Train driver

Train drivers move trains that carry passengers or freight. They drive trains along a rail network, use communication systems, and respond to signalling to safely reach their destination.
Also known as: Train operator, Shunter, Locomotive driver

Is this role right for you?

You’ll need to be punctual and reliable, and have excellent concentration and attention to detail. You will often work alone, and must adapt to changing situations and react quickly in an emergency. You’ll also be a great communicator, and able to accurately and clearly convey important information to passengers and network controllers.

What are some example projects or experiences?

Train drivers work in different environments: passenger networks, freight networks, and train yards.

Our passenger networks transport thousands of people every day. Passenger trains operate in cities, and connect dozens of towns to each other forming a network across the country. Passenger train drivers are responsible for the safety and comfort of their passengers. They communicate with them and work closely with network operations and guards to keep trains moving on time.

Freight train drivers cover vast distances to connect every Australian state and territory. New Zealand’s main islands are connected by a rail ferry that can carry 27 wagons. Freight trains can be incredibly long – sometimes more than 2km. They usually carry iron ore and coal from mines to ports, farm produce to markets, or consumer goods to cities and towns. A freight train driver can spend long periods of time alone, although support is just a radio call away.

Many train drivers work in rail yards and move wagons, carriages, and track equipment to support rail operations. These drivers have diverse roles. They plan train movements, secure loads and connections between carriages, perform maintenance, prepare trains for operation, and carry out shutdown procedures. No two days are the same for drivers in the yards.

What is the work environment like?

You’ll start your shift at a rail yard, driver depot or passenger station. Then you’ll spend much of your day in a cabin driving a train. You might haul resources from mines to ports, transport grain, or move passengers along suburban networks.

You will often work with a guard or secondary driver, but you may also drive alone and need to maintain concentration for long periods of time. On any journey, you’ll be in frequent communication with network operators and signalling operators.

You’ll become skilled in one or more types of train, usually specialising in passenger or freight train driving. Most rail networks operate multiple models and variations, with new trains entering service each year. So, you’ll always have more to learn and master.

You can find work as a train driver all around Australia. Most jobs are in cities and towns. Some are in remote areas.

Eligibility & pathways

You may not need to have any previous experience or qualifications for this role. Most employers provide you with all the training you’ll need.

You’ll complete a vocational training course and receive a certificate level qualification while you work. You’ll be trained in all aspects of safe and efficient train operations. As you learn, you may gain formal qualifications in transport and logistics up to a Certificate IV – Train Driving.

Current job vacancies

Avenues of Entry
Pay Range
Entry level
$62,500 - $96,500
$76,500 - $120,000

Salaries may vary outside of these ranges, based on company size and location, level of experience, competence and time in role.