• Feature: Do You Want to Become a Train Driver?

    Do You Want to Become a Train Driver? Here are Some Quick Tips

    As kids, most of us dreamed of becoming a doctor, pilot, soldier, or a train driver. Unfortunately, only a few people were able to pursue their life-long dream of driving these marvelous engines. According to an article published on UK's National Career Service web site, there are almost 159,000 people employed in the rail industry to date. The industry is also receiving over 300 applications per available position and qualified applicants can earn £30,000 annually. It goes to show how competitive and lucrative this job can be.

    If you really want to pursue your dreams of becoming a train driver, here are some tips you should consider:

    Train Driver's Role

    The first thing that you should ask yourself is "is this job for me?" Driving these behemoths entails a lot of responsibilities. Your passengers' safety is basically in your hands. Safety is the main concern of most railway operators. Below are the three things that you should be aware of:

    1. Safety is taken very seriously to avoid any railroad-related accidents.
    2. Most train drivers will be assigned to either electric or diesel-powered locomotives.
    3. Drivers must always follow the rules and regulations set by train operators and the government.

    Aside from the above-mentioned reminders, drivers are also required to double check their train's engines and equipment, coordinate with the control center regarding routes and destinations, and to make necessary passenger announcements before the journey starts. Richard McMunn of How2Become describes this job as a "high-pressure role, calling for you to be cool, calm and responsible." He also stressed the importance of flexibility and developing the necessary communication skills to develop rapport with the passengers.

    Qualities and Skills Needed

    Driving the train isn't just a driver's core responsibility; they also need to be well-organized and responsible. During emergency situations, drivers must remain calm while analyzing the situation. In an interview with the Guardian, Craig Puffett shared his experience as a train driver; "it is usually incident-free, although I did have a run in with a dozy pigeon once." The incident led to the power blowing out and he had to inform his passengers about the delay. For him, drivers need to be self-reliant and to follow rules to the letter. To qualify as a train driver, here are some of the qualities needed:

    • A good set of customer service skills
    • Calm, responsible, and willing to be flexible
    • The ability to concentrate over long periods of time
    • Must be able to understand the difference between emergency and normal situations

    Requirements for the Job

    Becoming a train driver doesn't have a specific set of requirements; however, candidates must have a General Certificate of Secondary Education. For people who have a background in mathematics and are well-versed in electrical and mechanical principles, they can take advantage of these technical skills to apply for a job. Also, applicants need to be at least 18 years old to be able to qualify. Once you've passed the initial screening, you should be ready for the tests the assessment center would administer. Test could include the following:

    • Reaction times
    • Knowledge of basic mechanical principles
    • Concentration and ability to remember information

    Aside from these tests, you will be required to undergo medical exams to check your current fitness level, hearing, eyesight, and color perception. Drug and alcohol screening may also be administered as a company requirement.

    Training and Development

    After passing a battery of tests and interviews, you're finally accepted as a trainee driver. Once you start training, it could usually last up to 18 months and receive between £18,000 to £22,000 pounds during training. However, the journey to realizing your dream doesn't end there; you still have to learn a couple of things:

    • Driving a train
    • Memorizing the routes
    • Basic knowledge of traction
    • The rails rules and regulations

    Modern-day training facilities now use computer simulators to let trainees re-enact real-life track situations. You need to pass certification courses to get your license. Throughout your career, a driving standards manager will always check if you're competent enough for the job.

    Becoming a train driver may not be for everyone, but it's definitely something anyone can try out for. It's an exciting, yet, demanding job to say the least. If you're really interested in this line of work, go for it.

    About the Author

    Dennis Redley is a freelance writer who collects toy trains and dreams of driving a train. On his spare time, he plays videogames including the Real Railway simulators. Feel free to follow him on Twitter: @dredleyone

    1 Comment
    1. straller's Avatar
      straller -
      Thank you for writing this!
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