Train Driver Careers

Driving a train might seem to be a thrilling experience. But it requires a lot of knowledge and training, and if you want to become a train driver you must be able to get through all of these stages to get the job you want.

Become a Train Driver

How do you get started?

The first stage is the application form. You must read this thoroughly and consider how to fill it in accurately and completely in order to increase your chances of reaching the next stage. The best way to do this is to write your answers out in rough first, rather than filling in the form. This is a challenging form to fill in and many people will be weeded out at this early stage. If you want to progress it makes sense to put as much work into your application form as you can.

Are there any tests to pass?

Yes there are. Since learning to become a train driver is a challenging process, those looking for recruits need to know they are putting the right people through the training. It is not enough to want to sit in a cab and drive a train all day.

You must have a certain degree of mechanical knowledge and ability to stand a chance of getting through the selection process. Thus you will be tested on this if your application form is accepted and you reach the testing stage. You won’t be expected to know everything there is to know about the railways, but you must be able to demonstrate you can understand information as it is given to you. You must also be good at concentration and spatial reasoning among other things.

The more you can find out about these tests before you take them, the more chance you have of passing them.

Will you still be interviewed for the job if you pass all these tests?

Yes  this is the final stage before you get to go for training. You can see that it is quite a long process; this is necessary because only a select portion of the population is suitable to be a train driver. The better and more rigorous the selection process is, the more chance there is of getting through to the training itself.

What happens if you are selected for training?

Congratulations  if you reach this stage of the process you are through the first stage to become a train driver. However this is where the real hard work begins you can now expect to take part in months of intensive training before you will be allowed to become a train driver for real. You must take and pass all the elements of training otherwise you will not be offered a job at the end of it. If you prove yourself during training and you get through it, you will be a fully fledged train driver.


What Should You Expect to Learn During Train Driver Training?

Train driver training is designed to prepare you for all the things you may experience when you actually become a qualified train driver. Many people think that driving a train is easy – after all, you often see the person in the cab of the train sitting there pulling into the station. It doesn’t look as though they are doing very much, does it?

However even though the actual process of driving a train is relatively straightforward – once you know how to do it – there is a lot of knowledge you need to have to back up that skill. This is where train driver training comes in. If you are lucky enough to get through the selection process and you have a chance to start your training, here is an idea of what you can expect.

Train Driver Training

How long does the training last for?

It depends on the company you have joined, but typically nine months is about the shortest period of time you will be in training for. This might sound like a long time, but some companies will train their new drivers for over a year before they actually begin the job proper. It just goes to show how much there is to learn in order to give you the skills and knowledge you need to get the job done.

What elements are there to the training programme?

Train driver training is comprised of two elements. The first is a theory element in which you will learn all the theory about the job. This relates to subjects including how the trains work, how you operate the trains, how to look for and understand various signals and much more besides.

You will also be expected to learn about the track and the environment you will be working in, since this is potentially a very dangerous environment.

There are many rules involved in any aspect of railway work. You must learn and know all of them in order to get through the training and be a train driver. You might now be getting an idea of just why the training is so long!

The other portion of the training is the practical side of things. You will get to drive a train on many occasions, although you will always have an instructor with you. The first time you drive a train alone will not be until you have successfully passed your training and you have got your job and your rota to begin work. This can be a nerve wracking part of the job, but by the time you get to this stage you will have earned the reward.

As you can see there is a lot involved with train driver training, which is why it makes sense to find out as much as you can about it before you apply for the job.


Whenever you board a train to go anywhere in the UK, you can take a look at the train as it pulls into the station. In the cab at the front there is a driver whose responsibility it is to get you and the other passengers to your destination safely and efficiently and on time.

You might look at a train driver sitting at the front of a train and think they have an easy job. Certainly, when things are going according to plan their job is relatively straightforward. But of course they are highly trained to be able to reach the position of operating a train on their own. If something goes wrong mechanically they need to know a certain amount of information about how the train works. They might be able to solve a simple mechanical problem on their own. So could you be the right person to succeed in getting one of the train driver jobs that are regularly advertised in the job market today?

Train Driver Jobs

Would you be happy working shifts?

Shift work is a necessary evil if you want to get train driver jobs. Trains run from early in the morning until very late at night, so you will have to cover all of these shifts over time. Every train driver will have a rota to stick to, and you will be given this when you start work. You will get odd days off here and there as well, so if you want to have every weekend off this is probably not the job for you.

Are you mechanically minded?

You will need some experience and insight in a technical sense to be considered for train driver jobs. Even if you don’t have these qualifications you should be able to demonstrate that you are mechanically minded. Indeed part of the selection process is designed to single out those people who have these skills. This is necessary because you will need to know how the train works in order to solve problems if they occur.

Are you able to focus your attention for long periods of time, even when you are performing the same actions constantly?

Most of the time, driving a train (once you have been trained to do so) is straightforward. But it is by its very nature a repetitive thing. It’s not like driving a car – in fact many people say the actual action of driving a train is far simpler! However this means there is room to lose concentration. You cannot do this because you have a train full of people you are responsible for.

You must be able to maintain concentration all the time and be alert for problems on the track and the signals ahead of you. This is perhaps one of the most important skills you must have if you want to go for train driver jobs.