Transport and logistics

Visitor Economy

Add to Bookmarks

Have you ever wanted to be a train driver? Perhaps when you were little this was your dream job. Perhaps it still is…

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Have you ever wanted to be a train driver? Perhaps when you were little this was your dream job. Perhaps it still is. Whether you are keen to get into the rail sector or simply curious we’re going to take a look at how to become a train driver.

It’s 3pm and Rachel is just leaving for the 15:35 from Liverpool Lime Street to Stockport. She’s not booked a ticket or getting ready to relax in a passenger seat. That’s because she’ll be front and centre in the driver’s seat of the locomotive, getting Merseyrail passengers to their destination on time again. No-doubt she’ll be bringing commuters back to their homes in Liverpool.

Two years earlier Rachel was just dreaming about being a train driver. She began by completing an application form on line and attaching her CV. She didn’t know at the time that the vast majority of applicants fail at this stage. Most applicants don’t realise that to pass this stage it’s vital to demonstrate the competencies, skills and qualities that are needed to be a successful train driver. For instance, including examples of how you have provided a high-level of customer service. Perhaps illustrating when you have previously concentrated for long periods of time. Sharing occasions when you have had to work under pressure and the results of that experience. Also, Rachel recognised that it was important to have an up-to-date and error-free CV. That shows an attention to detail. She remembered this is her sales document, so included her professional achievements, employment history, qualifications and education. 

Just when she was least expecting it, she recalled an invitation dropped through the letter box.  No, not that one for a pool party. The one to come to an assessment centre. On a wet Monday morning she found herself being mentally challenged. There were quite a few psychometric tests from concentration tests through to situational judgement tests and communications exercises. It’s a good job that her mate had experienced an assessment centre before and had suggested she looked for practice tests on the internet. She was prepared. She finished the assessment with an interview that she thought went quite well. They seemed to like her.

It’s a sunny Friday when she got an email inviting her to have a Manager’s Interview. Train Drivers are employed and trained by a Train Operating Company. Their managers want to know you have all the right qualities and will fit into their business culture. Impressing your potential manager is the key to success here. Rachel remembered looking at the requirements and qualities needed for the job and showing her future manager she had those, from being there on time to looking smart. 

It was a windy Tuesday when the next email came whistling into her inbox. Often there is a stage four of the recruitment process, so the letter asked Rachel to come for a final assessment where they checked she met the eligibility criteria and had a medical and fitness test to check she could drive a train safely. 

It’s a Thursday, Rachel always thinks Thursdays are lucky. The letter came in the post offering her a position as a trainee driver. Training was exciting. It involved 15 months of practical and classroom-based exercises, modular tests and train driving, both day and night, with an experienced train driver showing her the ropes. It included learning about traction, train handling, train driving rules and regulations, safety procedures and more. When she completed the course successfully after logging over 250 hours train driving experience, she gained a nationally recognised qualification and now holds the status of Qualified Train Driver.

It’s 15:25 when she climbs into the cab and begins pre-journey checks. Safety is everything when you’ve got a host of coaches behind you full of people. The 15:35 rolls out of Liverpool Lime Street on time. Rachel’s doing the job she loves.