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  • any train drivers on here? job advice
  • meeeee

    Thinking of changing career and have seen a train driver job which i’m thinking of applying for. It’ll be a pay cut while i’m training but then hopefully about the same as what im on now in a few years (according to the job advert anyway).

    Any drivers on here?

    Says average 35 hours a week, what sort of shift patterns do you end up working generally. Got a wife and 2 young kids so haveing a reasonable amount of family time would be good but i appreciate trains run outside 9-5 hours so i’d be working outsiede these hours too, just wondered how shifts worked.

    Whats holiday allowance and pension like, and do you enjoy the job or are there lots of things creeping in that make in not enjoyable (like my current job!)

    Also at 44 would i be abit old to be considered? (happy working past 60 if its a job i enjoy)

    Just after a bit more info before i fill application form in!



    essels son was a train driver.

    Alot depends on the company and if you pass all the tests, interviews etc, its hard to get in.


    My Cousin’s husband does it. Really likes it. Decent money. The family get very cheap train travel which they use a lot (wife and two young kids, too). He must have mid to late 40s when he applied. There were loads applicants apparently, but they did select him.


    Usually massively over subscribed so don’t build your hopes up too much! Strict on drink, drugs and regular medicals.

    Premier Icon njee20

    Stanfree is/was a freight driver. Is it a freight operator or passenger? Likely to have an impact on shifts I’d think.

    Premier Icon P-Jay

    My mate drives for Arriva Trains Wales and has done for must be 10 years now.

    The money is good considering entry requirements are fairly low – low-40s I think inc shift allowances etc so it’s a very competitive job to get. He was a aircraft engineer with modest education, not many transferable skills I’d guess.

    With his job the new lads were expected to take the crap shifts, so very early starts or more likely very late shifts and 3 weekends in 4, shift pattern is set a year in advance which included holidays and can’t be changed, not easily anyway. It took 5 years or more to get more social shifts but he’s still not on the easiest ones, it’s a case of waiting for someone more senior to retire.

    If you hit someone committing suicide (happens few times a year across the network) you do get a months compassionate leave, which is nice I suppose.

    The working conditions are like the 80’s never happened, the shop steward rules the roost and they never speak to “management” directly.

    He loves it, I was tempted myself, but I didn’t fancy the shifts so never appied.

    He says Virgin is the company to work for, they get fancy uniform like pilots but they’re really full of themselves.

    Freight and inter-city driving pays more but it needed extra training and it’s as competitive as getting to be a driver in the first place.


    Watch some YouTube cab ride videos to get an idea of whats involved. I’m not sure I’d want to do it day in day out. You can’t just drive any train over any route, you have to learn the route first so you are restricted to driving those routes you are signed off for. It must get very tedious after a while.


    There is quite a lot of required knowledge in terms of the routes you’ll driving over. Signal locations, speed restrictions, gradients. ITs possibly a LOT more involved that you think.
    Then there is the train knowledge, fault solving, each type of train and the differences in performance.


    It must get very tedious after a while.

    So like 99.9% of any other job out there?

    Ive been a driver for 11 years. Started on commuter services, then freight and now I work high speed services Between Paddington and Swansea.
    Its a job like no ever. Its different every single day.
    You’ll learn the routes inside out… Depending on where you work you could be expected to be able to drive in the pitch black at 125mph in 50 yard fog and still know exactly where you are.
    You’ll be taught all of the mechanical aspects (traction) and fault finding procedures. You cant just pull over and wait for the AA when it goers wrong…your expected to muck in and diagnose faults and rectify if possible.

    Its a 35hour week on average, but in reality at my depot, its 40-44hrs. But…… that’s a 5 day week plus you get every 5th week off – paid. 32 days leave on top of that.
    Pension is probably as good as it gets now. Final salary, company usually match way above whatever you pay into it.

    Shifts are a bit of a culture shock. Our earliest start is 02.16am. But Im home at 09.30. Latest finish is 3am from a 17.30 start.
    Its a fantastic job though, I wouldnt do anything else now. Its quite tough to get into these days though.
    Have a look at the forums at RailUK for application advice

    Age wont be an issue. There were lad in their late 50s on my trainin course

    Premier Icon Trailrider Jim

    Virgin is the company to work for, they get fancy uniform like pilots but they’re really full of themselves

    . Bless 🙂

    Premier Icon epicyclo

    plyphon – Member
    ‘It must get very tedious after a while.’
    So like 99.9% of any other job out there?

    Not quite. You have the capability of killing more people than a suicide bomber….


    My mate is, well for a few days more anyway (35 years man and boy). He’s sick of it now and happy to be taking redundancy. The shift patterns were to my eyes, bonkers, so be prepared for starting at 02:41 and finishing at 10:52 etc. He got lots of rest days but really messed up planning things for him as he was never sure when he’d get called in. It was freight rather than passenger, so that might make a difference.

    Having worked both pass and freight, they are poles apart. Freight drivers usually find out there shifts on the friday before. Pass drivers will know at least 6 months in advance.

    Premier Icon RDL-82

    Yep, me!

    Echo pretty much what allymcmurdo says apart for is it pretty much is 35hrs a week. Some slightly more some slightly less where I am.

    Earliest start here is 0345. Latest finish 0225.

    Who’s it’s for? Some companies have Sunday’s as part of the working week some don’t. Lots of little contractual differences.

    Virgin = big £’s but imo the worst t&c’s

    I enjoy it. The shifts are a pain but the time off makes up for it.

    Only thing I don’t like is the current push towards widespread DOO (driver only operation).


    Thanks for the replies lots of useful info there. Will have to have a chat with the wife see how she feels about me doing weird shifts. Think I’ll still apply though!


    Who’s it’s for? Some companies have Sunday’s as part of the working week some don’t. Lots of little contractual differences.

    Its Northern Rail, job just says train driver, Barrow in Furness. Doesnt state if its passenger or freight.

    One issue at the moment is that the application site says you must be within 45 min commute, i’m currently about 53mins away but would be prepared to relocate if successful. Dont know if this will get my application rejected fromt the start though as one if the first few questions is ‘are you less then 45 minutes away’ 🙁

    Great timing this topic , my mate is interested in this but has a colour blindness thing going on …would he be tested for this as part of the selection process ?

    Great timing this topic , my mate is interested in this but has a colour blindness thing going on …would he be tested for this as part of the selection process ?

    Yeah it’s tested during the medical. It’s usually tested via ishihara plates. Obviously each person is different but usually its no go if they’re colour blind…. Laser eye surgery is also banned but there on-going trials within the industry

    My mate is going through training with Northern Rail at the minute. It sounds great but:
    – he’s been training (excuse the pun) for about a year now and still has another few months to go. Thats on massively reduced pay vs what he was used to be on (he’s in his mid 30s and had a really good job in the police and quit to do this).
    – he has a load of exams to do in September which he has to pass. If he doesn’t then he’s unemployed with a wife, kids and mortgage.
    – when he does pass he’s restricted to really local routes

    Still sounds amazing – I’d love to do it but it still doesn’t pay as much as it does to sit in an office in a swivel chair, drinking as much Earl Grey as I can stomach and being on STW now and then 😉

    Premier Icon RDL-82

    As for the colour blindness yeah it’s tested for but contrary to allymcmurdo post. Some companies will allow laser eye surgery but it changes the medical aspect. It did however used to be a big no no. It’s a company specific thing though it seems.

    Ta ally ,I’ll pass it on

    I’m a Train Driver for Northern. If you apply the process to get through is hard, 1 in 400 I think it is. You do all sorts of tests, interviews etc. Once through they put you through a 16 week intense course with regular exams before you even get near a train, then if you pass that you get 6 months with an instructor and if you keep up to standards you then get a final pass out week. Which is 35 hours of exams pretty much.
    The knowledge you have to acquire is unreal, I worked on the railway before becoming a driver a year or so ago and I didn’t realise how much there was to it.
    Also, be prepared for £19k a year for the first 12 months which hurts a lot. A lot of people, and I mean a lot have had relationships end during that first year, mine wobbled.
    If I could advise you, I’d say go for it, best and hardest thing I’ve ever done. My office window is a scene from Peaks, Pennines and never boring.

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