How To Become A Train Driver

Train Driver

The Job

Train drivers are responsible for operating trains along set routes and maintaining appropriate speeds. Drivers need to be alert, attentive and cautious, paying close attention to signals and keeping an eye out for obstructions.

In addition, train drivers are responsible for keeping passengers informed if problems arise on the journey. They also need to maintain regular contact with the team monitoring the movement of the train.

Drivers should have an understanding of mechanics and a thorough knowledge of signaling and route systems.

Annual Salary

Train Driver Salary

Minimum Education Level

Level: Level - Entry

Minimum Qualifications

No formal qualifications are required, although it will help you to have a minimum of five GCSEs (A*-C), including English and maths.

Recommended Qualifications

The application process to become a train driver is extremely competitive. You are more likely to be accepted on to a training programme if you have good grades at Level 3.

Other Qualifications Needed

The first step to becoming a train driver is to find a train operator advertising for vacancies. If you are successful with your application you will be asked to come in for a rigorous assessment, which includes a mechanical comprehension test, ‘trainability’ for rules and procedures and a concentration and accuracy test. You will then have to undergo an interview and, if successful, a medical test. If you pass the assessment, interview and medical you will be offered a salaried position as a trainee. A 9-18 month training period then follows, including theory and knowledge-based learning about things like railway rules and regulations and practical training, including at least 250 hours of driving, of which 50 should be in darkness. Regular assessments must be passed at every stage of this process.

Once qualified, you will work like any other train driver, but will be classified as newly qualified for two years and be regularly assessed and observed to ensure you continue to meet competency and safety standards.

Average Working Hours Per Week = 35 hours a week


Common Working Pattern

Common Working Pattern

Time Taken To Qualify

9-18 months

What Next/Career Development

Experienced train drivers who wish to develop their career might progress to roles such as driving instructor, driving safety managers or operations management.

Related Courses

Facts And Figures

There are about 160,000 people working in the UK rail industry.
(Source: Office for National Statistics)

Over 70% of all train journeys start or finish in London.
(Source: ASLEF)

In 2012/13 rail passengers made 1.5 billion journeys with franchised operators, travelling 36 billion miles.
(Source: Department for Transport)