Train driver

UK: Industry bodies and drivers’ union ASLEF have welcomed the start of consultation on a government proposal to lower the minimum age to become a train driver in Great Britain from 20 to 18.

The consultation runs from May 16 to June 13. If given the go-ahead, the change could be in place from this summer.

The Department for Transport said the average age of a train driver is 48, many are set to retire in the next five years and the workforce is projected to shrink unless there are more opportunities for new recruits, including school leavers.

Rail Minister Huw Merriman said ’by boosting age diversity in the sector and attracting more drivers, we can help support reliable services while creating opportunities for more young people’.

Rail Delivery Group CEO Jaqueline Starr said ’working as a train driver is an incredible career opportunity, and we want to open the door to encourage a wider pool of young people to apply’.

Andy Bagnall, CEO of train operator owning company association Rail Partners, said ’with driver shortages and an ageing workforce, it is critical to secure the skills we need for the long-term to help improve reliability for the customer’.

ASLEF General Secretary Mick Whelan said lowering the age that drivers can begin their training would help the industry. ‘Before Covid, we were working with the train operating companies on a joint campaign to lobby the government to reduce the age from 21 to 18’, he said.

‘We have always believed, and told anyone who would listen, in and out of the rail industry, that those in the driver’s cab at the pointy end of the train should reflect the communities they serve. We want to see more women drivers, more BAME drivers, and, of course, more young drivers.’