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Train driver Engine driver, underground driver, Eurostar driver

Train drivers operate trains on rail networks, making sure that passengers and freight get to where they're going safely and on time.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £20,000 to £60,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 35 to 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

There are no set requirements, but some employers prefer you to have GCSEs (A* to C) in subjects like maths and English, or equivalent qualifications.

Some mechanical or electrical knowledge may be useful. You'll also need to pass a series of medical checks.

You'll usually have to be 21 or over to work as a train driver on the national rail network. If you are aged between 18 and 21, you may be able to train and work in yards and depots.

You must be at least 18 to work on the London Underground.

Train companies usually recruit trainee drivers directly, but you could start by doing another job, like passenger assistant, conductor, station staff or maintenance crew. You could then apply for trainee driver posts when they become available.

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • the ability to concentrate over long periods
  • customer service skills
  • the ability to react quickly, calmly and safely to unexpected problems
  • a responsible attitude and a high level of safety awareness
  • a willingness to work flexibly

3. What you'll do

You'll drive trains on local and national rail networks, stopping along your route to pick up and drop off passengers or freight.

Your day-to-day tasks may include:

  • checking equipment and engines
  • contacting control centres for information about routes and any problems
  • following signalling instructions during the journey
  • making passenger announcements
  • controlling automatic doors
  • positioning and handing over engines to drivers on the next shift

You'd also record any incidents during your shift, like equipment problems or dangers and delays.

4. Salary

Starter: £20,000 to £30,000

Experienced: £35,000 to £45,000

Highly Experienced: £45,000 to £60,000

Free or reduced-rate travel is usually offered as an extra benefit.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You'll usually work a 35-hour week. This could be spread over 4 or 5 shifts (known as turns) including weekends, evenings and nights.

On freight or engineering trains, you'll usually do more night shifts. On long-distance routes, you may have overnight stays.

6. Career path and progression

After training you could work for a rail engineering company, driving on-track machines used in maintenance work.

You could also move into a more senior position, like instructing drivers or managing people and performance.

Last updated: 07 December 2016