Becoming a Train Driver

The Instruction Company receives many enquiries from people that are keen to know about becoming a train driver. To gain a qualification in the rail industry requires an assessment of competence against nationally recognised qualifications.

The Instruction Company is an RTO (Registered Training Organisation) providing extensive training and assessment services to the rail industry and most of that to the larger rail operators. Our focus is NOT on assisting individuals on becoming train drivers. We do however get many requests for information on this topic so we've prepared the following guide including some frequently asked suestions, helpful links and the train operations learning journey.

 

FAQ’s for Becoming a Train Driver

1. What qualifications a person needs to hold in order to get a job as a train driver?

It varies according to the specific rail transport operator requirements.

The nationally recognised qualification is TLI42615 – Certificate IV in Train Driving.  There are 12 core units of competency, and 11 elective units that can be chosen from the Freight, Urban Electric, Country Passenger, and general elective groups.

Each rail operator will choose different electives depending on their specific requirements.

You will also need your current drivers licence.

2. How long does it take to become a train driver?

As per answer in question 1, this will vary according to the specific rail transport operator requirements.

The training pathways and many other rail industry specific requirements each operator encounter will vary the training timeframes.

For example, the training and qualification requirements to become a train driver for a freight transport operator in Victoria is different to what is required in NSW.

This is because each state operates different safe working systems.

What this means is that if you are keen to enter the rail industry it is important to understand where you would like to be. The application of any training and qualification you may hold needs to reflect the area that you wish to work in.

3. Why is it important to be employed by a rail operator before doing any training?

An important aspect of becoming a train driver or indeed any of the various roles within the industry is practical experience.

The Instruction Company is not a rail operator, therefore has limited access to rail infrastructure and assets in order to complete the consolidation aspect of the practical training.

For Example: the types of locomotives, rolling stock, the rail corridors, track owners, etc.

Ideally it is better to try and seek employment with a rail operator and in most cases if they have employment opportunities the operators will arrange for you to complete the necessary training requirements along the way.

4. Can I do any training without being employed by a rail operator?

YES, you can.

While The Instruction Company is happy to train you, we want to know that some training activities will be limited due to limitations with access to the on job consolidated learning required. (see answers to Question 3 above).

If you are unable to gain employment in the rail industry, it is indeed possible to participate in certain aspects of the required training independently.

There is theory content training associated with most aspects of the rail industry, and this part of your training you can complete independently however we strongly recommend that you first examine the employment prospects that may be more opportune if you go down that path.

There are required medical standards and specific rail operator pre employment checks.

The important thing to remember is that just because you complete a course in rail, it does necessarily guarantee you employment, however there are some rail operators that will look more favourably on people that have undertaken rail training in their own regard.

If you wish to go down that path, then feel free to contact our office for details.

5. Why do I need my drivers licence to be employed as a trainee train driver?

Train drivers, Driver assistants, second persons, etc will spend more time or as much time in the crew car as they do to actually drive the train. This is because of the shift lengths and fatigue management.

 

Helpful links to assist career research

Rail Operator Links

Pacific National
Australia wide Freight company private

Australian Railroad Group
Private Freight Company

Queensland Railways
Passenger and Freight Queensland Government owned

Aurizon
Australia wide Freight company private

City Rail
Passenger only NSW Government owned

CountryLink
Passenger only NSW Government owned

VLine
Passenger only Victorian Government owned

Railpage Australia
The Australian railway

 

Train Operations Learning Journey

Becoming a Train Driver - Train Operations Learning Journey

Track Safety Awareness

SARC

Delivery is 1 day

  • Safely Access the Rail Corridor is the minimum industry standard for employees & contractors participating in work activity within the various rail corridors in Australia.
  • Please see our section on Rail Industry Worker
  • Please ask about funding opportunities in your State.

 

Safeworking Theory

Depending on where you intend on working, there are many programs to cover the Safeworking rules for rail operations within each state of Australia.  You will learn about the signalling, safeworking rules and operating procedures, train working procedures, and much more.

Please contact The Instruction Company for details on course content that suits you and costing options.

New Entrant

  • Delivery 3 to 10 days (dependant on job description, Rail Operator, track owner requirements, number of participants)
  • Includes class room delivery, workbooks as a reference, & theory assessment

Refresher

  • Delivery 1- 2 days (dependant on Rail Operator, track owner requirements, number of participants)
  • Refreshed every 2 years

 

Maintainer

A rail operations maintainer qualification will vary depending on the Rail Operator, the freight wagons, and other equipment.  Training can include rail awareness fundamentals, communications, train preparation, diagnosing and rectifying faults, testing brakes, roll by & full train inspections, basic wagon & bogie maintenance, and in some cases shunting of rolling stock.

Please contact The Instruction Company for details on course content that suits you and costing options.

A Maintainer training program may look like this: (example only – please work with your Rail Operator for your own training plan).

Trainee Maintainer - Initial Training

Delivery 1 week to 4 weeks (dependant on job description, Rail Operator, track owner requirements, number of participants)

  • Includes class room delivery, workbooks as a reference, & theory assessment.  This would also include On Job facilitation, and practice

On Job Consolidation

Up to 12 weeks (dependant on Rail Operator, track owner requirements, number of participants)

  • Performing Trainee Maintainer duties under supervision.  Log books & work books will be filled in during this time. When trainee is ready a final competency assessment will be performed.

 

Shunter

A rail shunter qualification will vary depending on the Rail Operator, location of the yard, track owner requirements, and equipment used.  Training can include rail awareness fundamentals, communications, train preparation, general train examinations, testing brakes, safeworking and shunting practices.

Shunter - Initial Training

Delivery 1 week to 5 weeks (dependant on job description, Rail Operator, track owner requirements, number of participants) Safeworking training may be limited to within the confines of the Rail Operators yard.

  • Includes class room delivery, workbooks as a reference, & theory assessment.  This would also include On Job facilitation, and practice

On Job Consolidation

Up to 12 weeks (dependant on Rail Operator, track owner requirements, number of participants)

  • Performing Shunting duties under supervision.  Log books & work books will be filled in during this time.  When trainee is ready a final competency assessment will be performed

 

Terminal Driver

A rail Terminal Driver qualification will vary and may include some qualifications from the Maintainer & Shunter sections, depending on the Rail Operator, location of the yard, track owner requirements, and equipment used.  Training can include all training activities from maintainer & shunter areas, as well as load and secure freight, prepare locomotives & wagons, drive train within defined limits.

Terminal Driver- Initial Training

Delivery 1 week to 8 weeks (dependant on job description, Rail Operator, track owner requirements, number of participants) Safeworking training may be limited to within the confines of the Rail Operators yard.

  • Includes class room delivery, workbooks as a reference, & theory assessment.  This would also include On Job facilitation, and practice.

On Job Consolidation

Up to 12 weeks (dependant on Rail Operator, track owner requirements, number of participants)

  • Performing terminal driving, maintenance & shunting duties under supervision.  Log books & work books will be filled in during this time.  When trainee is ready a final competency assessment will be performed.

 

Drivers Assistant / Second Person

A Train Driver Assistant is often called a Second Person in the rail.  The qualification required to be a second person will vary depending on the Rail Operator, locations, track owner requirements, and equipment used.  Training will often include some qualifications from the Maintainer & Shunter sections, depending on the Rail Operator, location of the yard, track owner requirements, and equipment used. Safeworking training is more comprehensive for Second Persons

Second Person - Training

OVERALL Training can be up to 4 to 12 months including consolidation periods
SAFEWORKING - Delivery 1 week to 3 weeks (dependant on job description, Rail Operator, track owner requirements, number of participants) Safeworking training will be comprehensive & consist of all Networks safeworking features for the state/area you are working in, see Safeworking Theory.

  • Includes class room delivery, workbooks as a reference, & theory assessment.  This would also include On Job facilitation, often called freelance, and practice with a Driver Trainer for at least 3 to 5 trips.
  • SHUNT Training - see Shunting section

On Job Consolidation

Up to 12 to 24 weeks(dependant on Rail Operator, track owner requirements, number of participants)

  • Performing Second person duties under the supervision of a Driver Trainer or a senior train driver.  Log books & work books will be filled in during this time.  When trainee is ready a final competency assessment will be performed.

 

 

Driver Under Instruction (DUI)

A Train Driver Under Instruction qualification is commonly called the “Engine & Air School” or “Block School”.  This will usually only vary slightly between the Rail Operators depending on the locomotives & braking systems used.  In order to participate in the E&A Schools, a participant must have been a Second Person for a nominal period of time (usually 6 to 12 months) before progressing.  Training will include set up, shut down, prepare, locomotives, drive to operational requirements, route conditions, among other to work effectively in a train driving environment.

DUI - Training

OVERALL Training can be up to 6 months to 2 years including consolidation periods
E&A - Delivery 2 week to 4 weeks (dependant on job description, Rail Operator, track owner requirements, number of participants) Engine & Air training will be comprehensive & consist of all locomotive mechanical features, a deeper theory of safeworking from a driver perspective, for train handling techniques.
Includes class room delivery, workbooks as a reference, & theory assessment.  This would also include On Job facilitation, often called freelance, and practice with a Driver Trainer for at least 3 to 5 trips.

  • See also SHUNT Training
  • See also Second Person Training

On Job Consolidation

6 months to 2 years (dependant on Rail Operator, track owner requirements, number of participants)

  • Performing Driver under Instruction duties under the supervision of a Driver Trainer for at least 2 weeks, then a senior train driver.  Log books & work books will be filled in during this time.  When trainee is ready a final competency assessment will be performed.

 

Qualified Train Driver

To become a fully qualified Train Driver in the Australian Rail industry can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years.
The qualified train driver will have driven the train over a variety of routes in a variety of conditions to be able to progress from being under instruction.  These parameters will vary depending on the Rail Operator.