Renfe train driver

UK follows Europe to attract young train drivers

Renfe train driver Rosalina Reyes Ges. Image: Renfe. Miguel Ángel Patier.

A new UK Government proposal aims to attract more young train drivers. Thousands of opportunities could open up for young people, says the UK Department for Transport. They say it will help secure the skills needed to improve Britain’s railways in the long term. It is an issue that has been on the agenda in Europe for some time.

New regulations are being considered to lower the minimum age for train drivers from 20 to 18. The legislation could be in place as early as the summer. The Government says it could help set thousands of young people on track to a career in transport. The dream of being a train driver may just become a reality for many thousands of school leavers.

Retiring staff issues being addressed

Efforts are being made to open up more careers in the rail sector. Young people could improve the reliability of rail services under new proposals being put forward. If agreed, the proposals would build resilience across the railway. It would create a new pathway for school leavers to take up apprenticeships and study to join the profession. This is an issue being addressed across Europe, with many other operators actively seeking new talent.

Driver in cab looking towards bridge
DB train driver inside ICE4 cab. Image: © Deutsche Bahn.

The UK Government Department for Transport has issued a warning. It says that many train drivers are set to retire in the next five years. They also say that the average age of a train driver is 48 years old. The workforce is projected to shrink without opening up more opportunities for new recruits. Attracting more drivers would help the industry deliver better for customers, says the Department. It would provide a more reliable service when staff are off sick or on annual leave, says the DfT.

More diversity in the workforce consultation opened

“We want to open the door for young people considering transport as a career, and this proposal could give school leavers a clear path into the sector”, said Huw Merriman, the Rail Minister. “The number of young people entering the industry remains relatively low. Lowering the minimum age for people to start their train driving careers, from 20 to 18, would give more choices to people leaving school or college and looking for their next step, as well as encouraging more diversity in the workforce.”

Portrait of Huw Merriman
Huw Merriman, UK minister for Rail and HS2, has opened a public consultation on reducing the entry age for apprentice drivers. Perhaps he fancies a change of career. Image: © David Woolfall – UK Gov.

This initiative is part of a wider government plan to create more opportunities for young people. They claim this will help many young people to gain the skills needed by industry. “They need to succeed while generating more jobs leading to a productive, high-skilled economy”, said a government statement on the wider scheme.

If the proposals are introduced, all prospective train drivers will continue to be held to the same stringent training requirements as before, say the DfT. “To become a licensed train driver, trainees must pass mandatory medical, psychological, fitness and general professional competence examinations.” A public consultation on lowering the minimum age requirement for train drivers from 20 to 18 consultation is open now until 13 June.

Author: Simon Walton

Simon Walton is UK correspondent for RailTech.com and Railfreight.com

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UK follows Europe to attract young train drivers | RailTech.com
Renfe train driver

UK follows Europe to attract young train drivers

Renfe train driver Rosalina Reyes Ges. Image: Renfe. Miguel Ángel Patier.

A new UK Government proposal aims to attract more young train drivers. Thousands of opportunities could open up for young people, says the UK Department for Transport. They say it will help secure the skills needed to improve Britain’s railways in the long term. It is an issue that has been on the agenda in Europe for some time.

New regulations are being considered to lower the minimum age for train drivers from 20 to 18. The legislation could be in place as early as the summer. The Government says it could help set thousands of young people on track to a career in transport. The dream of being a train driver may just become a reality for many thousands of school leavers.

Retiring staff issues being addressed

Efforts are being made to open up more careers in the rail sector. Young people could improve the reliability of rail services under new proposals being put forward. If agreed, the proposals would build resilience across the railway. It would create a new pathway for school leavers to take up apprenticeships and study to join the profession. This is an issue being addressed across Europe, with many other operators actively seeking new talent.

Driver in cab looking towards bridge
DB train driver inside ICE4 cab. Image: © Deutsche Bahn.

The UK Government Department for Transport has issued a warning. It says that many train drivers are set to retire in the next five years. They also say that the average age of a train driver is 48 years old. The workforce is projected to shrink without opening up more opportunities for new recruits. Attracting more drivers would help the industry deliver better for customers, says the Department. It would provide a more reliable service when staff are off sick or on annual leave, says the DfT.

More diversity in the workforce consultation opened

“We want to open the door for young people considering transport as a career, and this proposal could give school leavers a clear path into the sector”, said Huw Merriman, the Rail Minister. “The number of young people entering the industry remains relatively low. Lowering the minimum age for people to start their train driving careers, from 20 to 18, would give more choices to people leaving school or college and looking for their next step, as well as encouraging more diversity in the workforce.”

Portrait of Huw Merriman
Huw Merriman, UK minister for Rail and HS2, has opened a public consultation on reducing the entry age for apprentice drivers. Perhaps he fancies a change of career. Image: © David Woolfall – UK Gov.

This initiative is part of a wider government plan to create more opportunities for young people. They claim this will help many young people to gain the skills needed by industry. “They need to succeed while generating more jobs leading to a productive, high-skilled economy”, said a government statement on the wider scheme.

If the proposals are introduced, all prospective train drivers will continue to be held to the same stringent training requirements as before, say the DfT. “To become a licensed train driver, trainees must pass mandatory medical, psychological, fitness and general professional competence examinations.” A public consultation on lowering the minimum age requirement for train drivers from 20 to 18 consultation is open now until 13 June.

Author: Simon Walton

Simon Walton is UK correspondent for RailTech.com and Railfreight.com

Add your comment

characters remaining.

Log in through one of the following social media partners to comment.