Become a Train Driver in the UK

Train driving is a lucrative and rewarding career, and you must be able to work alone and follow safety procedures. To be a train driver in the UK, get your train license, apply for entry-level train driver jobs, and complete the required training courses through your employer. With some patience and perseverance, you can easily become a train driver.


Meeting the Basic Requirements

  1. Be at least 21 years of age. To apply for your train driving license, you must have photo identification showing you are at least 21 years old.[1]
    • Acceptable identification includes UK photo card or passport.
  2. Complete at least 9 years of education. A college education is not required to become a train driver in the UK. Year 9 refers to the 10th consecutive year of required education in the UK, and children are usually 14-15 years old at this time. "Reception" is the first year of schooling. You must have evidence of the highest education level you completed, such as a transcript or report card.[2]
    • This proves your competency with basic math and reading skills.
  3. Get a medical fitness examination by a doctor. A medical evaluation is required in order to get a train driving license in the UK. To schedule your medical examination, search online for “train driving license approved physicians,” and browse doctors in your area of the UK.[3]
    • The medical examination tests your eyesight, color accuracy, and hearing.
    • Ensure the doctor you choose is on the ORR (Office of Rail and Road) recognized physician register.
  4. Pass the psychometric assessment conducted by a psychologist. In addition to the medical examination, a psychological evaluation is also required in order to get your train driving license. To find a psychologist, search online for “train driving license approved psychologists.” Make your decision based on reviews and distance from your location.[4]
    • The psychologist must be registered with the ORR recognized psychologist register, and you need their registration number when completing the application.

Getting Your Train Driving License

  1. Complete the application online for an easy and direct option. After you have your medical and psychological evaluations, you are ready to complete the train driving application with the Office of Rail and Road.[5]
  2. Print the application if you want to submit a physical copy. Locate the application on the ORR website. Then, click on “application form” under the “License application” heading.[6]
  3. Complete the application entirely and attach your evaluations. First, complete the safety organization/authority contact information. Then, select “First issue” under the license and applicants details. Fill in things like your name, address, birthday, and reference number, and include a photo of yourself. Sign and date the application when you are finished.[7]
    • You also must attach the results of your medical and psychological evaluation, proving you are fit to drive the train.
    • You can ignore the “Update,” “Amendment,” “Duplicate,” and “Renewal” sections.
  4. Submit your application form when you are finished. If you are applying online, press the “Submit” button after you complete all of the required fields. If you are completing a hard copy, mail your form and supplemental documents to Railway Safety Directorate, Administration Team, Office of Rail and Road, One Kemble Street, London, WC2B 4AN.[8]
  5. Receive your approved train driving license in the mail. Once you complete the application and it is approved, the ORR will print out your identification card and mail it to your residence. Your application is registered in an online license record with the ORR, and you can check your application status online while you wait.[9]
    • To check your status, log into your account you created when submitting the application.

Obtaining a Train Driver Job

  1. Search online to find trainee driver jobs. Once you get your train driver license, you’re ready to find your train driver job! Go online and search for “trainee” or “entry-level” driving jobs, and browse the options based on your location. Without any previous train experience, this is the only role you are qualified for. Trainee drivers learn how to drive the train from a veteran staff member, and you'll get a taste of what shift work is like.[10]
    • Most trainee jobs require you to live within 1 hour’s commute of the job site.
  2. Apply for the jobs you are interested in and interview when requested. When you find jobs that fit your interests, location, schedule, and salary, you must submit an application to be considered for the role. Complete the job application based on the particular site you use. When you hear back from the employer, schedule an interview either in person or over the phone. The employer asks you questions about your experience and interests to gauge if you are right for the job. At this point, the employer will cover all next steps and preliminary paperwork.[11]
    • Some applications require you to complete an assignment upon submitting.
    • Some sites have you upload a resume and create a job profile, while others allow you to submit your resume directly.[12]
    • To write your resume, list your education, work experience, and related certifications.
    • If you do not hear back within a week or so, call and check on the status of your application.
  3. Complete the training certification from your employer. Before you are able to drive the train, you must complete the required driving certification. Your employer will provide you with explicit details and instructions after you are hired. Typically, you must complete the training certification before you start the job.[13]
    • The training certification includes proper safety and emergency procedures.
    • You must carry the certification with you when you drive the train.
    • If you find a new job, you must get recertified with the new employer before you begin.
  4. Perform the job of a trainee driver after you pass the certification. As a trainee, you may have to work long late hours or early morning hours as part of your shift work. In this role, you'll check equipment and engines, contact control centers, follow signal instructions, make passenger announcements, and report problems. Typically, you'll work 4 or 5 shifts for a total of 35 hours a week, and you often work weekends, evenings, and holidays.[14]
    • More often than not, your shifts will be in the evening if you drive freight or engineering trains.
    • If you work a long-distance route, you may have overnight stays.
  5. Apply for a train driver job after you gain relevant experience. Typically, you must have adequate experience to get hired as a train driver. "Adequate experience" is defined differently from company to company, but on average you need 1-2 years of experience as a trainee to successfully get a train driver job. As you learn the ropes, update your resume and search for train driver jobs to find your next career steps.[15]
    • For example, you may be qualified to drive a Freight liner after 6 months or longer.
    • Some train jobs require extensive trainee experience before promoting drivers to drivers.


  • If you do not get hired as a train driver right away, that’s okay! It takes time to find the right opportunity. Don’t let that discourage you from pursuing this career path if it is truly what you want.
  • Know that train drivers often have varied schedules with very early and very late hours.
  • To be a great train driver, you must be safety-conscious, aware, focused, and flexible.