How to Become a Train Driver in New South Wales

The latest data from the tax office reveals train drivers earn an annual median income of around $114,000. This puts train drivers 58th on a salary rank of more than 1,000 occupations, outperforming school principals and dentists, and on par with GPs and pilots.k

Think you’re cut out for work on the railroads of NSW? Browse our range of courses online to help you get the necessary qualifications, and check out this guide on how to step onto the rail corridor and get in the driver’s seat.

Understand the Job

Before you put the wheels in motion, it’s important to understand the unique responsibilities of being a train driver. With the NSW train network moving more than 1.3 million passengers per hour, there’s an enormous amount of responsibility involved. Customer safety is at the heart of everything you do, whether you’re managing high-pressure situations or remaining focused during your shift.

You’re engaging with cutting-edge train technology daily, which means the training program is rigorous and hands-on. Benefits include travelling all over the state and of course, an excellent salary. Not to mention the reward of connecting passengers with work, school and loved ones across the state.

Gear up for Intensive Training

Like studying to become a doctor, lawyer or engineer, working as a train driver is preceded by an intensive training process. Expect classroom learning and on-the-job training, as well as home study and exams. Training schedules are tight, meaning you’ll need to free up time on evenings and weekends. This is good training for the job, as NSW runs a complex train network that operates around the clock.

The Certificate IV in Train Driving is a general qualification for a person engaged in driving a train. Achievement of this qualification requires the application of a broad range of specialised knowledge and skills to undertake skilled work within a train driving environment.

This includes:

  • Identifying, analysing, comparing and acting on information from a range of sources.
  • Applying and communicating technical solutions of a non-routine or contingency nature to a defined range of predictable and unpredictable problems.
  • Guiding activities and providing technical advice in the area of work.

As a train driver, whether passenger or freight, electric or diesel, you must be engaged in the rail industry by a rail operator, such as Pacific National, Aurizon, Sydney Trains or Qube or, enter via a program such as Street-to-Seat.

Rail operators recruit and sign drivers up into a Traineeship where they attain the Certificate IV in Train Driving. The process works similar to an apprenticeship.

Street-to-Seat is an education-to-employment Rail Career Path Program initiative hosted by Momentum Rail (an industry skills supplier).  As the rail industries most recognised training to employment driver program, Street-to-Seat develops Train Drivers and Train Drivers’s Assistants for rail industry operators. The Career Path Program requires you to successfully complete the relevant training to safely access Rail Operator worksites. Once qualified, you undertake hands-on-training before the option for employment is available.

You will need to respond to the recruitment strategies of the various rail companies who regularly recruit trainee drivers, guards and other rail-based callings. The industry is safety-critical and all drivers must be trained on a live network under supervision.

If you would like to pursue a career within the rail industry, you can start by completing one of the below required entry courses. This is the basic requirement employers necessitate for all workers in the industry, including train driving.

Entry Requirements: To participate in the Train Driver Course(s), you must have at least a Category 1 Rail Medical and have completed one of the following Rail Inductions:

Accessing the Rail Corridor Induction (NSW TFNSW SX52)

Designed for workers operating within the Sydney metropolitan area network, this course empowers learners with the skills and knowledge to safely navigate the rail corridor. The focus is on key generic hazards and safety regulations.

ARTC National Track Safety Awareness (NTSA)

People who want to become a train driver in New South Wales need to complete this course in safely entering and navigating around the rail corridor. The Nationally Recognised Training focuses on track protection requirements, responding to safety incidents and identifying electrical safety hazards.

You may also want to be better prepared for your career with:

Apply Safety Critical Communications in the Rail Environment

With a focus on leveraging communication and negotiation skills within the rail industry, this course is designed to teach safety critical behaviours. You’ll receive a nationally-recognised Statement of Attainment and leave with an in-depth understanding of safety crucial communications.

Ready to Take the Next Step?

Express your interest in the Street to Seat program here.

Get in touch with the friendly team at CERT Training NSW to find out more about the flexible, innovative and cost-effective solutions designed to help you step onto the New South Wales rail corridor.

Enrol in CERT Training now and kick start your career in rail infrastructure.

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