Engine driver, London Underground driver, Eurostar driver, tube driver
Train drivers operate trains on the rail network, carrying passengers and freight around the country.
Salary range: £20,000 to £60,000
How to become a train driver
You can get into this job through:
- an apprenticeship
- working towards this role
- applying directly
You can apply to a train operating company and begin a train driver advanced apprenticeship.
You’ll usually need:
- GCSEs grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, in English and maths
You can start as a rail passenger assistant or train conductor, then apply for a trainee driver post. This is also a common way to become a London Underground driver.
You can apply directly to a train operating company to become a trainee driver.
Employers usually expect you to have GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) in English and maths, or equivalent qualifications.
Training can last between 12 and 24 months.
A good way to find out about trainee driver vacancies is to sign up for job alerts with train operating companies.
You can find out more about how to become a train driver from The Train Drivers Academy.
You’ll find train operating companies through the Rail Delivery Group.
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- concentration skills
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
- the ability to operate and control equipment
- knowledge of public safety and security
- observation and recording skills
- the ability to work well with others and on your own
- knowledge of transport methods, costs and benefits
- to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
Restrictions and requirements
You’ll need to:
- be over 20 years of age
- live within 1 hour’s travel of the depot you’re applying to
- pass enhanced background checks
- pass a medical check
What you’ll do
In this role you’ll:
- check controls and equipment before a journey
- drive the train between stations or freight depots
- speak with control centres along the route about any issues
- follow track signalling, safety and speed instructions
- leave platforms and pull into stations safely
- make passenger announcements
- control automatic doors
- position and hand over engines to drivers on the next shift
- record incidents like equipment problems, onboard issues or delays
Your working environment may be noisy and you may spend nights away from home.
You may need to wear a uniform.
Career path and progression
Once you’re qualified, you could work on passenger, freight or engineering trains.
With experience, you could combine your job with instructing trainee drivers, who are learning new routes and cab controls. You could also become a driver trainer, teaching new starters in the classroom, working with driver simulators and accompanying trainees on journeys.
You could move into management, supervising drivers and making sure trains and crew are where they need to be on the rail network. Operations management is another possibility, planning future rail developments.