Is train driving considered a skilled or semi skilled profession?

Is train driving considered a skilled or semi skilled profession?

  • Skilled

  • Semi Skilled


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seagull

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I believe the official designation is semi-skilled. And I think that's probably accurate: much of the role requirement is not so much "skill" but that of knowledge retention, calmness under pressure, ability to cope with antisocial hours and shifts, ability to follow set procedures, multi-task and avoid distraction.
 

Starmill

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Perhaps it would be worth posting some definitions?
 

RightAwayGuy

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I would place myself in the skilled camp actually. If you have a look online at some definitions then it could be either though as it is open to interpretation.

https://work.chron.com/difference-between-skilled-semi-skilled-22806.html
A semi-skilled worker does not have specialized skills or advanced training, according to eSub. However, the work a semi-skilled employee performs requires three to six months to learn
Learning to drive trains takes a lot longer than 6 months from starting to signing all routes and traction.

According to Labor for Hire, you will need to have specialized education and training in order to do a skilled job. This means that you may need a college or university degree or diploma in your field, in addition to certification. Skilled labor requires using your own judgment, critical thinking, time management and people management.
The level 3 apprenticeship that pretty much all TOCs require now could be considered additional specialised education.
 

Socanxdis

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The level 3 apprenticeship that pretty much all TOCs require now could be considered additional specialised education.
That's a very great point. Never thought of that. I thought skilled means you need prior qualifications to enter the profession.
 

Gloster

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Labor for hire (I can’t find the original post) appears to be a US site. It may well be written to comply with different laws.
 

Class800

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I find it difficult to believe that any job where the postholder has other people's lives literally in their hands can be anything but skilled. Pilots, boat captain, bus drivers, train drivers - all are surely skilled roles?
 

Mills444

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I find it difficult to believe that any job where the postholder has other people's lives literally in their hands can be anything but skilled. Pilots, boat captain, bus drivers, train drivers - all are surely skilled roles?
What about waiters and shop workers in terms of food safety and allergens ?
 

Stigy

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I guess given the training involved in becoming a train driver, that alone makes it more on the skilled side of the spectrum. Not everybody can be a train driver, but a lot of people could probably drive a train. What I mean is, the physical driving of the train in normal conditions is frankly a doddle (obviously adverse weather and degraded working etc would require a certain aptitude though), but everything else we need to know is where the “skilled” part comes in to it (route knowledge, degraded working, rules knowledge, traction knowledge and what to do if it really goes wrong to name a few).
 

Vespa

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A professional driver could be considered skilled with constantly changing road circumstances, awkward drops, thinking on your feet.

Train drivers is skilled but in a more controlled enviroment, you follow the rails, knowing your route and most importantly stopping when you need to.

I used to drive vintage tramcars in a museum setting, that is fairly skilled watching the tracks, checking your facing points, stopping distance, checking your overhead wires for problem, multitasking and constantly thinking on your feet, all this while carrying up to 60 passengers.
 

alf

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ASLEF lobbied PM Tony Blair to have train driving counted as skilled.

Before then it was presumably registered as semi skilled or even unskilled.
( I have been told that London Transport called its train drivers “train operators” because it did not want them equated with skilled main line steam train drivers.)

Did Blair have train drivers re classified as skilled?

I don’t know. But he would have been a fool not to as ASLEF regularly funded the Labour Party.

Maybe older ASLEF members know if Blair took notice of ASLEF’s
Lobbying.
 

D6968

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I have to say skilled, from route knowledge, to different types of traction and then the foibles of those individuals in the same class. For example I have a friend who drives on the big railway, on one of the Heritage Railway he drives on he’s always rated one Class 50 as a stronger loco than another so uses different techniques when rostered to drive them.
To know the difference on a heritage railway let alone the big railway is something I would say is rather skilful.
 

bramling

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Would like to get your thoughts on this.

I’d say train driving itself is semi-skilled, but the overall package of being a train driver is skilled - in particular the considerably bank of knowledge one is required to amass, and more importantly know when and how to apply, and also the fact that 100.0% performance is nowadays essentially the expected benchmark.

The selection process, length of training and failure rates would also appear to support this.

I’d say it’s an easy job for the right person, but that person isn’t always readily easy to find.
 

guard1

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I guess given the training involved in becoming a train driver, that alone makes it more on the skilled side of the spectrum. Not everybody can be a train driver, but a lot of people could probably drive a train. What I mean is, the physical driving of the train in normal conditions is frankly a doddle (obviously adverse weather and degraded working etc would require a certain aptitude though), but everything else we need to know is where the “skilled” part comes in to it (route knowledge, degraded working, rules knowledge, traction knowledge and what to do if it really goes wrong to name a few).
I'm not sure I agree that train driving is an absolute doddle, even in good conditions. Where I work I'm taught to have plenty of redundancy in how I brake and every unit I drive behaves differently, whether it is braking strength, brake type, whether wheels have been turned or brake blocks are new/old, gradients, impact of passenger loadings, different traction formations (including tread brake/disc brakes in formation). Furthermore, normal conditions for my job mean pretty much running under restrictive signals all the time and stopping up to 100 times a day which is certainly not a cake walk. Nevertheless, different drivers have varied approaches to driving e.g. liberal braking techniques such as unnecessary heavy braking late into stations (my opinion).
 

Chester1

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A level 3 apprenticeship is at an equivalent level to two A-level passes.

Level 3 or A Level equivalent is the minimum standard for eligibility for a skilled worker visa (what replaced tier 2 visas in January). The salary threshold for a job that is not on skills shortage list is £25,600. Therefore a ToC would have very few problems sponsoring a migrant for a train drivers job. Its unlikely they would want to because of the level of interest from Brits but the job meets the criteria for skilled for purposes of immigration.
 

Stigy

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I'm not sure I agree that train driving is an absolute doddle, even in good conditions. Where I work I'm taught to have plenty of redundancy in how I brake and every unit I drive behaves differently, whether it is braking strength, brake type, whether wheels have been turned or brake blocks are new/old, gradients, impact of passenger loadings, different traction formations (including tread brake/disc brakes in formation). Furthermore, normal conditions for my job mean pretty much running under restrictive signals all the time and stopping up to 100 times a day which is certainly not a cake walk. Nevertheless, different drivers have varied approaches to driving e.g. liberal braking techniques such as unnecessary heavy braking late into stations (my opinion).
I fully agree. I meant the actual physical aspect of driving a train. The items you mentioned are I’d say attribute it to more of a skilled role. The fundamentals of powering up, slowing down, stopping and operating/reacting to in-cab alerts are what I meant was easier. Knowing what traction brakes differently, powers you differently and generally getting a feel for it, is what makes a professional driver, and to an extent, that can’t be taught.
 

D6968

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I'm not sure I agree that train driving is an absolute doddle, even in good conditions. Where I work I'm taught to have plenty of redundancy in how I brake and every unit I drive behaves differently, whether it is braking strength, brake type, whether wheels have been turned or brake blocks are new/old, gradients, impact of passenger loadings, different traction formations (including tread brake/disc brakes in formation). Furthermore, normal conditions for my job mean pretty much running under restrictive signals all the time and stopping up to 100 times a day which is certainly not a cake walk. Nevertheless, different drivers have varied approaches to driving e.g. liberal braking techniques such as unnecessary heavy braking late into stations (my opinion).
My friend, you’ve put what I was trying to say far more eloquently.
 

Sweetjesus

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I believe the definition of skilled worker more relates to degree of autonomy does the one have in their role.

A software developer will have a bigger autonomy on how a software application can be designed and programmed as opposed to a train driver who have limited autonomy in their decisions.

Looking through "Skilled Worker" visa eligible occupations list seems mostly confirm this view (with some exceptions).
 

notadriver

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A professional driver could be considered skilled with constantly changing road circumstances, awkward drops, thinking on your feet.

Train drivers is skilled but in a more controlled enviroment, you follow the rails, knowing your route and most importantly stopping when you need to.

I used to drive vintage tramcars in a museum setting, that is fairly skilled watching the tracks, checking your facing points, stopping distance, checking your overhead wires for problem, multitasking and constantly thinking on your feet, all this while carrying up to 60 passengers.

typically one can be trained to drive a bus in a few weeks and a tram in maybe 2 months. Given the definition of semi skilled is a job of 3-6 months with a train driver taking over a year of intense training, is a professional (bus) or even a tram driver skilled under this definition?
 

Chester1

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I believe the definition of skilled worker more relates to degree of autonomy does the one have in their role.

A software developer will have a bigger autonomy on how a software application can be designed and programmed as opposed to a train driver who have limited autonomy in their decisions.

Looking through "Skilled Worker" visa eligible occupations list seems mostly confirm this view (with some exceptions).

Another factor in the classification of jobs as skilled for the purposes of immigration is training time / level of experience required to do the job. Its not designed to be a definitive list of skilled jobs. Its jobs that are both skilled and have a fairly lengthy training period. Its why HGV drivers aren't on the list despite being skilled.

I can't find train drivers on the list but the following are under category 6215:

Retail service manager (railways)
Station assistant (underground railway)
Ticket inspector (railways)
Train conductor
Train manager

All of those are either safety critical, require making subjective decisions without support or have substantial time to become fully competent or a mix of the three.

Not sure what category train drivers are on the list but they will be under a category somewhere.

typically one can be trained to drive a bus in a few weeks and a tram in maybe 2 months. Given the definition of semi skilled is a job of 3-6 months with a train driver taking over a year of intense training, is a professional (bus) or even a tram driver skilled under this definition?

Don't know about tram drivers but bus drivers are not skilled for the purposes of immigration. That is not to say they are not, just that the time from never having driven a bus to fully independent working is too short.
 

Vespa

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typically one can be trained to drive a bus in a few weeks and a tram in maybe 2 months. Given the definition of semi skilled is a job of 3-6 months with a train driver taking over a year of intense training, is a professional (bus) or even a tram driver skilled under this definition?
Vintage tramcar drivers certainly have autonomy and is essentially the "Captain" of his ship, passengers and conductors would look to him for guidance if something went wrong especially where electricity is concerned.

Modern tramcar drivers have more to consider, modern signalling, familiarisation with light rail regulations and if sharing with NR tracks or in proximity, relevant railway regulations, route knowledge....

Certainly miles ahead of the traditional "in sight" driving of vintage tramcars.
 

notadriver

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I believe the definition of skilled worker more relates to degree of autonomy does the one have in their role.

A software developer will have a bigger autonomy on how a software application can be designed and programmed as opposed to a train driver who have limited autonomy in their decisions.

Looking through "Skilled Worker" visa eligible occupations list seems mostly confirm this view (with some exceptions).

if we are talking about autonomy, then someone self employed such as a taxi driver would have freedom to make decisions.
 

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