Consultation launched to lower age of train drivers - CILT(UK)
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Consultation launched to lower age of train drivers

20 May 2024/Categories: Industry News, Freight Forwarding, Logistics & Supply Chain, Rail


The Department for Transport (DfT) has announced a consultation on lowering the age to become a train driver from 20 to 18.

The proposal is said to encourage thousands of young people to look at a career in transport after they leave school and new regulations could be in place by the summer.

According to the Government, the workforce is expected to shrink with many train drivers likely to retire within the next five years.

With the average age of train drivers being 48, attracting younger drivers could help to open up the sector, generating jobs and more opportunities for new recruits.

Rail Minister, Huw Merriman, said: “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.

“By boosting age diversity in the sector and attracting more drivers, we can help support reliable services while creating opportunities for more young people.”

Responding to the consultation, trade association Logistics UK highlighted that the entire sector is facing a significant skills shortage with 120,000 people required by 2030 and the skills demand is expected to peak in 2025.

Logistics UK say 50,000 people are expected to retire by 2030 and with the Government’s target of growing 75% of rail freight by 2050, inevitably more drivers are needed to achieve this.  

Ellis Shelton, Senior Policy Advisor at business group Logistics UK, said: “Only 5% of the rail industry’s workforce are under 25 so lowering the minimum age for train drivers to 18 is a practical step to encourage younger people into the industry and address the ageing workforce, but an efficient rail network needs more than just drivers.”

“There are numerous critical roles alongside drivers, such as engineers and technicians, where there are also skills shortages and Logistics UK has been pressing government for some time for a clear national strategy to help address the skills gap in this vital sector,” he added.  

If proposals are introduced, train drivers will continue to be held to the same strict training requirements as before, ensuring safe use of our railways.

This includes passing mandatory medical, psychological, fitness and general professional competence examinations to become a licensed train driver.

Additionally, their employer will train them on infrastructure and rolling stock they will be deployed on.

While all train drivers must undergo ongoing training, monitoring, and supervision to maintain their licenses and certifications, an upcoming consultation will solicit opinions on how to adapt those processes for selecting, training, and overseeing younger drivers if the minimum age requirement is reduced.

Jaqueline Starr, Chief Executive Officer at Rail Delivery Group, said: “Our railways play a vital role connecting people and communities.

“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.”

The DfT said they will continue to work closely with industry and the Office of Rail and Road to improve recruitment, resilience and passenger experience.

The consultation opened on May 16 and will close on June 13, for further information and to respond to the consultation click here.

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