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.
A train driver, also called a locomotive driver (may also be designated as engine driver) sits at the front of the train and steers locomotives/traction units as well as railcars in short and long distance passenger transport or haulage. A train driver may also have to operate so-called auxiliary vehicles e.g. two-way excavators in track building, and he may also be employed in special infrastructure projects such as mining or industrial rail.
Before departure the train driver must ensure that his traction unit/train is fit for driving, load up on equipment e.g. sand, carry out technical inspections and brake tests, study timetable documents and drive the traction unit safely
The coupling e.g. of locomotives and wagons to a train and the shunting of vehicles as well as communication with other railway operators such as operations controllers, wagon technicians, shunters and dispatchers belong to a train driver's typical list of duties.
When transporting passengers additional duties include controlling tasks in the train itself and regular contact with passengers, e.g. announcing stations.
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.
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.
There are various ways to gain employment as a train 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 train 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.
Various development opportunities are open to train drivers 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.