Train driver

What they do

Train drivers operate passenger and freight trains that transport people and goods through our cities, across the state, or interstate. They operate the train's controls in order to adhere to scheduled running times. They observe speed limits and other signals, and stop at stations to collect or drop off either passengers or freight. They also undertake routine inspections of the vessels they drive before they undertake a scheduled journey, identify faults, and liaise with other railway staff in rectifying them. Train drivers work all over the state, from controlling regular Transperth services to long-distance freight trains used in the mining industry, to interstate trips via the Indian Pacific.

Working conditions

Train drivers work mostly inside the cabins of trains, which can be driven at up to approximately 100 kilometres per hour. The driver's cab is generally a confined space and can also be noisy. Train drivers usually work in shifts, which may include weekends, public holidays, early mornings and late nights. Some train drivers may also be required to work long shifts travelling across remote locations, and may sometimes be required to stay away from home for various periods. They drive in most weather conditions.

Tools and technologies

Train drivers drive diesel, electric or diesel-electric trains. They often use two-way radios to communicate with other railway staff. They often deal with the couplings that link wagons together, and may be required to use some tools in the case of breakdowns and other emergencies. They are usually required to wear a uniform, which may incorporate some protective clothing such as earmuffs.

How do I become one?

Education and training

To become a train driver, you usually need to undertake a train driver traineeship (level 4). The traineeship usually takes 36 months to complete.

Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer, enabling you to complete training towards a nationally recognised qualification. You spend  time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider.

You can do an apprenticeship or traineeship if you are a school-leaver, re-entering the workforce or as an adult or mature-aged person wishing to change careers. You can even begin your apprenticeship or traineeship while you're still at school.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Required registration and licensing

To work as a train driver in Western Australia, you will need to obtain a Rail Industry Worker Card from the Australasian Railway Association.