New member, My son wants to be a train driver.

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The 375 King

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Hello to all, I am new to the forum. Could someone tell me how much work is involved to become a train driver as it is my son's dream to become one, thank you
 
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sonic2009

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Nice Girl welcome to the forum :)

Were a friendly bunch, and we will be pleased to help you. We do have some users who are train drivers, and they would be happy to offer advice.
 

deltic1989

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Firstly welcome to the forum.
This question comes up a lot and if memory serves someone posted a thread on the process of becoming a driver so if you type it into the search function it should come up (or maybe one of our members on a computer could help i would but im on my phone) alternatively google becoming a train driver and someone has written a detailed site with the whole process.
 

michael769

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You may find This sticky useful.

It might also help folks to give advice if you could confirm the approximate age group of your son.
 

The 375 King

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You may find This sticky useful.

It might also help folks to give advice if you could confirm the approximate age group of your son.



Thanks everyone for your assistance, my son is fifteen so he will have to wait a couple of years before he can start training, he has been useing some simulator which looks very realistic on the pc and he has yet to crash. Sorry for posting in wrong section, moderator I will be more carefull in future.
 

cuccir

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Although I'm not directly in the industry, as a mid-20 something still trying to forge a proper career, I think the following two comments hold for job-hunting/career planning very broadly:

1. He should look at the person specification for current train driver jobs when they are advertised. What skills/experience do they ask for? He should start to look towards part-time jobs or volunteering options which would bring him this experience

2. Consider A-Level choices, if he is studying for them. AFAIK skills such as problem solving, ability to work on your own and high levels of concentration are all valued. Science and maths topics stand out for these, but he might also consider others which show analytical thinking such as languages
 

E&W Lucas

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I am a driver, so I will do my best to offer a few pointers.

Firstly, get him off that computer, and put the simulator game in the bin. It has nothing whatever to do with our job. He needs to be getting out in the real world, and engaging in activities that develop maturity, communication skills and develop a sense of responsibility. Worth finding out if he has any aptitude for machinery too.

There is no career path that leads school levers to driving. The minimum age for driving is 21, but that is theoretical only. Most are 30+. It is a second career for people who have already held a responsible job. Experience in other roles within the rail industry confers no advantage.

Be slightly wary of this site. A lot of the contributors are enthusiasts saying what they THINK is the case, rather than people who actually do the job.

Difficult to offer much more, without knowing more about your son. If I can assist further please get in touch
 

Kneedown

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I am a Driver Mentor with over 25 years service.
My advice would be for your son to get his foot in the door by applying for any available position at a Train Operating Company (TOC) It is easier, certainly on East Midlands Trains where i am employed, to progress to Driver from a position within the Company. When applying he needs to do his research on the TOC in question, for example where they serve, parent company etc. The more information he is armed with at the interview the better. Application forms should be completed great attention to detail with good grammar and no spelling mistakes. There is a lot of competion out there for all vacancies and anything that will give him an edge will be beneficial. When he establishes himself as reliable hard worker who takes a pride in his appearance and the service he gives, he will have a great springboard from which to apply for any Driver vacancies which arise.
There are several Psychometric tests which must be passed before an application for Driver can be progressed. The company will normally pay for these, though you can pay for these yourself. Some are available for download online, google "Group Bourden test". I'm afraid i can't elaborate further with these as i qualified before they were introduced and have never had a go at them. I believe that, once passed, that pass remains valid for 12 or 24 months, so if unsuccessful first time around, he can always apply again within that timescale before having to retake the tests.
This will be followed by a structured interview, and in some cases a secon interview. Same rules apply, do as much research as possible, and by then he will have formed some friendships with traincrews and Drivers, so there is a great resource of knowledge and information to draw upon.

This is just a brief overview of what i consider to be the best way to get driving. Should you require any more detailed info please feel free to PM, and if i can't answer your particular question, will ask someone who can.
Good luck to your son, for all our moaning sometimes, it really is the best career in the world!

regards,
K'down.
 

E&W Lucas

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It is so hard to give a definitive answer to this. Two experienced drivers have just given you a totally different one!

I too work for one of the big inter - city outfits, and I would agree that you would have a better chance of getting a trainee vac with us as an internal candidate. HOWEVER, our typical number of trainees is in the low single figures a year. That absolutely does not represent your best chance of making it as a driver.

Take a look at this thread, which may help give an idea where some of us have come from previously. Please note that the method of recruiting drivers has changed over time. The "start at 16 and work up as a secondman" option no longer exists.

http://www.railforums.co.uk/showthread.php?t=53918
 

By 'eck

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I am a driver, so I will do my best to offer a few pointers.

Firstly, get him off that computer, and put the simulator game in the bin. It has nothing whatever to do with our job. He needs to be getting out in the real world, and engaging in activities that develop maturity, communication skills and develop a sense of responsibility. Worth finding out if he has any aptitude for machinery too.

There is no career path that leads school levers to driving. The minimum age for driving is 21, but that is theoretical only. Most are 30+. It is a second career for people who have already held a responsible job. Experience in other roles within the rail industry confers no advantage.

Be slightly wary of this site. A lot of the contributors are enthusiasts saying what they THINK is the case, rather than people who actually do the job.

Difficult to offer much more, without knowing more about your son. If I can assist further please get in touch

Hi
I agree, my son has just secured a college placement, at his interview the teacher commented on his CV, he joined the army cadets at 14 and has done loads of training, first aid, leadership, discipline etc with them, much better than spending time on a computer
 

TaysideTrainz

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Ok then, if your son wants to be a passenger driver, I was told when I was at Cupar you have lots of training to do. First you go to the training centre, then start bulding up (guard, porter, then driver). So thats what i was told anyway :) Hope this helps :)

Regards
Ross
 

Yew

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Perhaps He could do some voulenteering on a heritage railway? Not only is it a bit of fun, it could provide useful experience and insights to how a railway is (sort of) run
 

Kneedown

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It is so hard to give a definitive answer to this. Two experienced drivers have just given you a totally different one!

I too work for one of the big inter - city outfits, and I would agree that you would have a better chance of getting a trainee vac with us as an internal candidate. HOWEVER, our typical number of trainees is in the low single figures a year. That absolutely does not represent your best chance of making it as a driver.

Take a look at this thread, which may help give an idea where some of us have come from previously. Please note that the method of recruiting drivers has changed over time. The "start at 16 and work up as a secondman" option no longer exists.

http://www.railforums.co.uk/showthread.php?t=53918

You're advice carries a lot of weight too though, and if i hadn't been i a rush (was on at 16:00ish!) i would have said so. Apologies for that.

I first got on the railway as a YTS trainee in 1985. I knew then that i wanted to be a Driver. I applied for a messenger lad's position six months into the course and was successful. That was my foot in the door. From that point on i was pro-active and personally wrote to every Area Manager in the Country that i could think of, enquiring about Traction Trainee positions. Some didn't reply, some replied abruptly, but SOME seemed pleased to hear from me and promised to keep my letter on file. Time went on and i eventually applied for a Guards job, was successful and completed my training. After about three months Guarding i found a letter in my pigeonhole from the Traincrew manager at Derby who had indeed kept my letter and now had some positions available.
That taught me that the job you want won't find you, you have to go and seek it out yourself, and to learn, be keen and a hard worker, so you are best equipped to be successful when you find what you are looking for.
Above all, never give up when things don't go your way for a while. It's easy to lose heart, but keep trying and you will get there.
 

BestWestern

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Ok then, if your son wants to be a passenger driver, I was told when I was at Cupar you have lots of training to do. First you go to the training centre, then start bulding up (guard, porter, then driver). So thats what i was told anyway :) Hope this helps :)

Regards
Ross

Sorry to be dismissive, but the 'advice' you were given certainly doesn't relate to the UK railway as it is now. Porters no longer exist, but if they did going from Guard to Porter would most certainly be a retrograde career move, though Guard to Driver is a well-trodden path.

To address the OP, I would politely suggest concentrating your attentions on the posts from our qualified, currently-serving Drivers, particularly those who have entered the industry since privatisation. It is a VERY difficult position to get into, as there is masses of competition, but well worth the effort for all of those who are successful.
 

HST Power

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East Coast are advertising vaccancies for summer jobs at London King's Cross. You would work as a Platform Assistant helping passengers and train crew. Would 16 be old enough for this? (I know the OPs son is 16)
 

The Snap

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East Coast are advertising vaccancies for summer jobs at London King's Cross. You would work as a Platform Assistant helping passengers and train crew. Would 16 be old enough for this? (I know the OPs son is 16)

My limited knowledge of this side of the rail industry (operations as opposed to infrastructure) would suggest not. 18 is usually the benchmark throughout the industry, but I may be wrong? It depends what/who the placements are aimed at.
 

E&W Lucas

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As has been said above, by myself and others, it would be enormously helpful if replies to questions such as this was confined to those with first hand knowledge.

Just because it is a job with a TOC, it does not make it a magical springboard to a driving career. Those are temp, short term posts; those employed will be on duties like putting luggage in DVT's or pouring cups of coffee. Please employ a bit of common sense, before you offer "advice" to others. These jobs are a half decent Uni vac job; nothing else.
 

221129

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I am 14 (Nearly 15) and am interested in working in the rail industry. To get a brief taster of railway life I am doing work experience for a week in July with FGW at Exeter St Davids.
 

142094

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As has been said above, by myself and others, it would be enormously helpful if replies to questions such as this was confined to those with first hand knowledge.

Just because it is a job with a TOC, it does not make it a magical springboard to a driving career. Those are temp, short term posts; those employed will be on duties like putting luggage in DVT's or pouring cups of coffee. Please employ a bit of common sense, before you offer "advice" to others. These jobs are a half decent Uni vac job; nothing else.

The problem is that this forum is not only confined to staff, so if a non-staff member wants to post a reply they are perfectly entitled to, accurate or not.
 

HST Power

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As has been said above, by myself and others, it would be enormously helpful if replies to questions such as this was confined to those with first hand knowledge.

Just because it is a job with a TOC, it does not make it a magical springboard to a driving career. Those are temp, short term posts; those employed will be on duties like putting luggage in DVT's or pouring cups of coffee. Please employ a bit of common sense, before you offer "advice" to others. These jobs are a half decent Uni vac job; nothing else.

For goodness sake, come off your high horse, I was asking a question for my benefit, not giving advice. Did you see me say 'hey, go become a PA at East Coast and you're straight in with the driving crew?'

Did it cross your mind that I might be the one thinking of applying?

I thought that was a very rude post. Considering you are a driver it would be nice to see a little bit more courtesy and mannerism in your conduct. I sincerley hope that you do not drive the trains in my area if this is the way in which you respond to posts.
 

E&W Lucas

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For goodness sake, come off your high horse, I was asking a question for my benefit, not giving advice. Did you see me say 'hey, go become a PA at East Coast and you're straight in with the driving crew?'

Did it cross your mind that I might be the one thinking of applying?

I thought that was a very rude post. Considering you are a driver it would be nice to see a little bit more courtesy and mannerism in your conduct. I sincerley hope that you do not drive the trains in my area if this is the way in which you respond to posts.

Dear me, if you are that sensitive, don't consider a career on the railway!
You would be entering a very plain speaking environment, and if you have any dealings with drivers, you will find that most of us don't suffer fools - probably because our job doesn't. If you think I'm sharp tongued, you should meet some of the older generation!
 

HST Power

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Dear me, if you are that sensitive, don't consider a career on the railway!
You would be entering a very plain speaking environment, and if you have any dealings with drivers, you will find that most of us don't suffer fools - probably because our job doesn't. If you think I'm sharp tongued, you should meet some of the older generation!

Who gave you the notion that I was going into the industry for a career?

After all....

These jobs are a half decent Uni vac job; nothing else.

For the record, I have several friends and family who worked and are working in the railway.
 

ChrisTheRef

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Dear me, if you are that sensitive, don't consider a career on the railway!
You would be entering a very plain speaking environment, and if you have any dealings with drivers, you will find that most of us don't suffer fools - probably because our job doesn't. If you think I'm sharp tongued, you should meet some of the older generation!

Just to point out that most rail staff ARE nice people who actually enjoy working with the public.

Any railway job is going to be useful experience in terms of gaining full time employment with a TOC. Whilst I agree that East Coast's 'Job For The Games' isn't going to rocket you to Managing Director within 6 months, it would be very handy to mention at an interview.
 

GB

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Just because it is a job with a TOC, it does not make it a magical springboard to a driving career.

I don't think that has been suggested at all. I know quite a few people who have worked up to become drivers and equally I know some who have gone straight in as a second career.

There is no right or wrong answer and while you maybe a driver, you are not an absolute authoritative on the recruitment practices on all the different TOCs and FOCs so I suggest you cut others a little bit of slack.
 
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Nym

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Can I make a small suggestion before people start getting the hopes up of those who want to apply or those who's sons or daughters want to apply and make one tiny (yes massively important suggestion):

Get a full medical and optical assessment carried out, paying particular attention to the latter of these two, as this usually cannot be changed.

Network Rail who I believe set the standards for all NR metals, and TOCs will tend to follow for medical standards have strict standards for eyesight, both near and far sighted, and colour deficiency.

Any form of the latter and any serious deficiency in the former of these optical standards will land you with an instant no for any driving or vehicle operating position; so before anyone gets their hopes up, I'd say visit an opticians and get tested, properly (not like they do in primary school) for colour deficiency and n/f sighted standard.

NR uses the Ishihara test as their de-facto standard and this is not likely to change, even though 10% of non colour deficient sighted persons will fail this test and it gives no indication of severity of deficiency. Indeed those with marginal colour deficiency in the R/G scale will always fail the Ishihara test due to the marginalised nature of shading used resulting in being unable to distinguish anything, rather than the desired pass or fail numerical or pictorial sighting.

The only fair and complete test I know to be in use is that of TfL (who have commissioned their own system), as a distinguishment and matching test is not appropriate for vehicle operators.

I'm rather surprised no-one has mentioned this yet as there is a 1:8 chance that the OP's son will fail the colour deficiency tests anyway.
 

Pugland53

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Hello to all, I am new to the forum. Could someone tell me how much work is involved to become a train driver as it is my son's dream to become one, thank you


Hi, I joined the railway 4 years ago and have been driving for just over 3 years. My TOC has taken on quite a large number of new drivers in the last 6 years or so. One thing I can say is there are very few young train drivers. I can only think of one or two who work with me who are under 30. A large number of the new drivers taken on are ex-forces as they are proven to be hard working, reliable and most importantly calm under pressure. Around 2 or 3 in each driver course of 8 are ex guards. This is the way I would suggest your son tries to get into the railway. Start on the station barriers for example, and after he has proven himself mature and reliable he could apply for a guard post. He can then apply for a driver vacancy when one arises. I definately feel it is easier to get into a driving job if you already work on the railway. Any other questions feel free to ask.
 

BestWestern

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Hi, I joined the railway 4 years ago and have been driving for just over 3 years. My TOC has taken on quite a large number of new drivers in the last 6 years or so. One thing I can say is there are very few young train drivers. I can only think of one or two who work with me who are under 30. A large number of the new drivers taken on are ex-forces as they are proven to be hard working, reliable and most importantly calm under pressure. Around 2 or 3 in each driver course of 8 are ex guards. This is the way I would suggest your son tries to get into the railway. Start on the station barriers for example, and after he has proven himself mature and reliable he could apply for a guard post. He can then apply for a driver vacancy when one arises. I definately feel it is easier to get into a driving job if you already work on the railway. Any other questions feel free to ask.

Welcome to the forum, that's two new members in one thread, not bad! You're likely to be shot down in flames for offering that advice, but actually I would suggest that it is probably quite a sensible suggestion. Due to the young age of the potential applicant, climbing the ladder is perhaps the most practical way of heading towards the more desirable jobs. Though it's worth pointing out that it would be a long old road.
 

221129

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Hi, I joined the railway 4 years ago and have been driving for just over 3 years. My TOC has taken on quite a large number of new drivers in the last 6 years or so. One thing I can say is there are very few young train drivers. I can only think of one or two who work with me who are under 30. A large number of the new drivers taken on are ex-forces as they are proven to be hard working, reliable and most importantly calm under pressure. Around 2 or 3 in each driver course of 8 are ex guards. This is the way I would suggest your son tries to get into the railway. Start on the station barriers for example, and after he has proven himself mature and reliable he could apply for a guard post. He can then apply for a driver vacancy when one arises. I definately feel it is easier to get into a driving job if you already work on the railway. Any other questions feel free to ask.

That is exactly my intended path!!
 

E&W Lucas

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I definately feel it is easier to get into a driving job if you already work on the railway. Any other questions feel free to ask.

I must admit that I am slightly bewildered by this, when you've just pointed out that the majority of each course with your TOC are external?

There will be a lot of ex - forces types in the market at the moment, as sadly so many of them are being made redundant.

Thinking of those drivers that I know, who have got the job seriously young (and the number is in single figures), the majority were internal, but in most cases the defining characteristic was their outstanding maturity. These were bright, articulate young people, who would have stood out in any workplace. In some cases, they were just "filling in" on the railway, but saw an opportunity and grabbed it. We aren't talking about "teenage veg" getting lucky here!

See comments above about the importance of young people engaging in character building activities.

Don't forget, even if you don't start working on the railway, you can still be building up your CV elsewhere. That Saturday job flipping burgers for Mc D's, might just lead to a managers job, and all of a sudden, you'll find you external driver application gets noticed, and the questions on the structured interview very easy to answer.... I know someone that happend for, so remember opportunities are all around you!
 
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