London Transport: How to get a job as a London Underground, Bus, Tram or Train driver and earn up to £ 100k a year

London’s metro system is simply crucial to how the capital works.

Used by about two million people – yes two million – every day, if the subway was not there, London would be complete chaos.

Despite being used by millions every day, tube drivers are almost never seen as they whiz past you too fast to notice them, and therefore they are almost never thanked.

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As with trains, it is the one mode of transportation where the person taking you from A to B is not thanked, appreciated or even thought about.

Despite that, one of the most Googled Transport for London (TfL) -related questions is “How do you become a tube driver?”, Reports MyLondon.

The job is not only highly competitive, but can pay off incredibly well – and quite rightly so.

From an outsider’s point of view, it must be one of the most fascinating jobs in the world when you walk from station to station in minutes.

And understandably, it’s also many people’s dream job, so here’s how you can fulfill that dream, as well as how you can find jobs across other forms of London transport.

Pipe driver

A London Underground sign
Find out how to become a pipe driver

As already mentioned, the Tube network is the beating heart of the capital and not only gets people around during the day, but helps get people home safely at night.

Now the job as a tube driver is hard to get, mainly because vacancies are almost never advertised to the public, only to TfL colleagues. This is largely due to an agreement between TfL and trade unions entered into in 2008.

This means that it is practically impossible to get a job as a pipe driver if you are not already working in the industry or TfL.

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However, there is a process. Normally, you first need another vacancy for TfL as a security-critical or customer-facing person, such as a customer service assistant, and complete the probationary period.

Some tube driver roles may require a degree, and having a clean disciplinary record should allow you to enter an internal talent pool or apply for a tube driver position.

As expected, the process is very lengthy and the selection process to become a pipe driver is also tough and long.

The perfect candidate must have good eyesight and fitness standards, and tests that measure your written and oral communication are also part of the process.

Then there is a face-to-face interview. If successful, you will then be offered a position on a training course that takes an additional three to six months, if you fail an assessment during this period, you will need to return to your original role.

If you pass all the training, you can sit behind the ‘dead man’s handle’. Tube drivers earn around £ 60,000, although benefits such as free travel for you and another person, TfL-related discounts and healthcare services mean the final compensation package can be much higher. In 2018, a request for freedom of information revealed that eight tube drivers earned over £ 100,000 a year.

Train driver

Becoming a locomotive driver is much easier than becoming a tube driver, primarily because they are open to the public.

Positions can be found on a number of train companies’ websites, and again the process is much easier than for Tuben.

Usually, depending on where you are looking, you need to stay close to the depot – about 30 minutes transport.

This is perfectly normal as you should be able to get there at any time of the night or day. Candidates must also make a declaration that they are physically and mentally fit to work on the railway network.

This is where the job also differs from a normal locomotive driver and a Tube driver, as the Tube is constantly busy with drivers who frequently come in contact with other staff, train drivers on the main line often have to concentrate for hours on their own with little communication. This means that there is intensive psychometric testing.

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Unless you have previous experience on the railways or in an industry with a strong focus on operations or logistics such as defense or air travel, it is not easy to be accepted for the first time for a lead passenger train role.

You may find it easier to become a shunt driver who moves trains around depots and then moves on to mainline train driver as any experience is good and will help your chances of becoming a locomotive driver.

Like the Tube, there is a rigorous training process once you have been offered a position that involves getting a train license. Unlike a driver’s license, this must be periodically renewed and you will be regularly tested and inspected to ensure that you are competent.

Train drivers must also be ‘deregistered’ to run different types of trains and different railway lines, so it is not just a case of ‘getting in and out of you’.

The salaries are also very good, the longer you stay as a locomotive driver, ranging from £ 30k a year for trainees to as high as £ 120k a year for more experienced drivers.

Bus or tram driver

A person wearing a face mask is riding a bus in Piccadilly, London
Jobs as bus drivers in London are highly sought after

A bus or tram driver also pays quite well. To become one of these, you must have a valid UK driving license. Vacancies are public and are displayed on FirstGroup’s website.

There are some ways you can ensure that your application is one of the best, including professional qualifications you can take in bus and tram travel around the UK.

As London’s tram network operates from a base at Therapia Lane, you must be able to get to and from the depot at any time to be selected on the list.

In terms of bus service, there are London bus repair shops all over London plus a handful in the county of Hertfordshire to the north, which means it is generally more accessible.

To apply, do not go directly to TfL, but to one of the London bus operators operating services on their behalf.

Note that some of the bus companies operate both TfL and non-TfL (aka ‘commercial’) bus routes, so there can often be two available seats on the seats. TfL roles pay better, but the hours are almost always longer and more unsocial.

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