The job of train driver can be done by people of both sexes. For ease of reading only the male pronoun has been used in the following text. No disrespect to either sex is intended.

Activity profile

A shunting locomotive driver is responsible for the moving of railway vehicles in shunting operations using radio remote control to steer the traction units from outside. In doing this he stands next to the train so as to be able to observe all of it and bypass the need for further help, e.g. from a shunter. Particular safety precautions are to be observed when shunting using radio remote control while route locomotive drivers driving on tracks usually only wear a safety vest, shunting locomotive drivers are dressed in orange from head to foot.

In contrast to the route locomotive driver, who is mainly responsible for pure train operation, the shunting locomotive driver has many different operative and customer service duties, including train inspections, production of wagon lists and brake dockets, the IT-supported documentation of wagon itineraries, operation of rail sidings as well as contact with other rail operatives and end customers. The shunting locomotive driver's activity profile can thus include the activities of various rail careers (including train driver, escort shunting staff and train preparer).

Train drivers work shifts and must be able at to assume responsibility at weekends, and holidays and at night for the smooth, punctual and safe running of train services.


The shunting locomotive driver's job description builds on that of the train driver and, along with interest in the train system, a career as a train driver demands exceptional physical and mental resilience, which must be attested by doctors and psychologists approved for the purpose by the Federal Railway Office within the framework of medical examinations in accordance with the Traction Unit Driving Licence Regulation (TfV).

Willingness to work shifts and irregular hours, travelling long distances and being away from home for several days at a time, is today just as important for a train driver as the ability to work independently and readiness to work in a team.

The operation of modern traction units, the editing of timetables and other documents and communication with the railway company responsible for the trains as well as other involved parties demands a high degree of affinity with technology and the ability to adapt quickly to the use of devices such as tablets, smartphones and on-board computers.


A shunting locomotive driver is usually a train driver with additional training for shunting with radio remote control. With many railway companies a job as shunting locomotive driver is a step on the road to being a route locomotive driver. Others look for experienced train drivers who enjoy shunting work.

There are various ways of becoming a shunting locomotive driver:

Initial training (with IHK approval) begins immediately after leaving school, requires an intermediate school-leaving certificate and generally lasts three years. Along with special training topics including railway operation, vehicle technology, signalling etc. this training also includes general subjects such as social studies.

We offer opportunities for further training as a train driver over several months for lateral entrants who have already completed vocational training and are looking for career opportunities, e.g. at the MEV Driver Training School. Here the training is focused on the role of railway operative as such. Experienced train drivers with additional education as trainers and qualified training locomotive drivers share their knowledge in theoretical and practical modules.

Pay and development opportunities

The Federal Framework Train Driver Pay Agreement (BuRa-LfTV) initiated by the Union of German Train Drivers (GDL) prescribes the basic rate of a shunting locomotive driver's income. It varies according to experience and operations e.g. whether the driver is employed only in shunting operations, on national routes or even in international rail transport. Years of work are also taken into account.

Individual company pay agreements such as the pay agreement between MEV and the GDL govern add-ons for night, Sunday and holiday work, remuneration for overtime, special payments, holiday allowance etc.

Regular further training and attractive social security are a given.

Various development opportunities are open to train drivers with additional training as a shunting locomotive driver e.g. training locomotive driver or trainer, team leader or - in-service training such as master school or degree required - rail traffic master or technician.

Everybody is different. And so is every development opportunity.