How to become an Australian Train Driver
The selection process for becoming an Australian train driver is very difficult to pass. However, armed with this 100-page insider’s career guide, your chances of success will greatly increase. Read on to learn more about how to become a train driver and also how we can help you.
There’s always been something undeniably appealing about life on the rails – working as a train driver can be an amazing experience, giving you a job that offers shift variety, good pay potential and a job that can see you through to retirement in many cases.
The Australian railway is a vital part of the nation’s infrastructure, routinely carrying both passengers and freight from one end of the nation to the other, and all points in between.
As a train driver, you’ll be responsible for driving passenger and/or freight trains in a variety of conditions, from the heat of summer to the dead of winter.
You’ll be responsible for the safety of the entire train, and all that’s on it.
This job does involve a significant amount of responsibility, but it also involves a lot of rewards – you’ll have plenty of downtime to enjoy, and the pay is quite good and competitive.
There are many different paths you can take to get to this position and become a train driver.
For instance, you might choose to start out with a rail company working as stockman or yardman, or even a porter, and then move up as opportunities present themselves. However, that’s really the long way to go about it…
…With the right steps and the right training, you can apply directly for a driver position, pass the assessment centre examinations and ace the interview. From that point, it’s only a short step into the future; with learning the routes available and ultimately becoming a valued railway train driver.
The rest of this page will show you how you can apply directly to become a train driver and the process you will have to take.
Understanding the Selection Process for becoming an Australian train driver
Before you apply to become a train driver it is very important that you have a thorough understanding of what the process involves.
Understanding how train operating companies (TOCs) choose employees is important.
The selection process can be complex, but it’s not as difficult as you might think. In fact, with a little bit of understanding, you can ensure that you know exactly what happens from point A to point B and not have any surprises.
The first step in the selection process is on you – applying with a TOC or training company. Most of the time, you’ll be turning in your application or CV directly to the TOC, and they will then make a decision about whether or not you will make a good hire. Focus has increased lately on ensuring that only those candidates most likely to pass the assessment centre testing are chosen from the initial sifting of applications and CVs, so you might expect a rather lengthy wait on a response after your initial turn-in. As part of the initial sifting, you may face an initial online test. You may be tested on you maths, English, and abstract shape recognition (verbal reasoning). Other factors that can affect the length of time you have to wait for an answer include:
- The number of applicants relative to the number of positions;
- The availability of “sifters” who are responsible for going over applications and CV’s (obviously, more people vetting applicants will result in a shorter time);
- The date of the next assessment centre testing;
- The hiring process of the TOC in question (some companies wait until they have a specific number of applicants for the assessment centre).
A typical Australian train operating company’s job specification for train drivers my look like this:
The above job specification is just an example and may vary between different AU TOCs.
The assessment centre is probably the most worrisome step in the selection and hiring process. While assessment centres are utilised within a wide range of industries, their formality and the number of tests applicants must undergo can be somewhat unnerving.
Note: Your ability to work unsupervised and remain productive is tested in an interview.
Understanding what you’ll face in an assessment centre can help put your mind at ease. The railcar/train operating company with which you’re applying will have its own specific criteria for selection, and testing will occur based on each criterion.
It’s important to understand that there is some controversy over the continued use of assessment centres, particularly with the ability of training facilities to administer psychometric tests (sometimes just mechanical comprehension tests) to applicants directly.
Most operating companies continue to use assessment centres, though this may change over the coming years.
Once you have passed all the tests at the assessment centre, you’ll be dismissed. You will receive the results of your assessment in the post, via phone call or even via email.
Once you have received a passing score from the assessment centre, you’ll be invited for another interview.
While you’ll have undergone numerous interviews at the assessment centre, those were all part of the testing process. After attending the centre and receiving passing marks, you’ll be invited to another interview.
This one will mark the end of the hiring process. If the interview goes well, you’ll be offered a position as a trainee driver (if you have experience, you might be bumped up to Second Person).
Once you have successfully passed the selection process for becoming an Australian Trainee Railcar Driver you will undergo 23-weeks of training.
During the intensive training course as a trainee train driver you will cover:
- 9 weeks classroom training which covers customer service, ticket duties, working safely, electrical safety awareness, your fitness levels, disability awareness, dangerous goods transportation and fire extinguisher training to name just a few of the subjects.
- 14 weeks training working with other experienced railcar drivers. This type of work will be on-the-job training and it will be mainly shift work.
Shifts commence from early morning (0330 hours) until late at night, 7 days a week, including late shifts on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights ending at 0400 hours. Rosters are worked on a two week, 80 hour cycle with 4 rostered days off in any configuration.
If you want to learn exactly how to pass the selection process for becoming a Railcar driver then the following training guide will assist you.
Advice on preparing for the entire Australian train driver selection process, including:
- What the role of a railcar/train driver involves in Australia;
- Insider tips for preparing effectively for the tough selection process;
- How to pass the interview with high scores;
- Sample interview questions and tips on how to answer all of them;
- How and where to apply included great advice on completing the application form;
- What the assessors are looking for from candidates and how you can increase your chances of success.
Practice Train Driver tests and interview preparation, such as:
- Advice on what the train driver tests will involve
- Preparing effectively for the tests with lots of sample test questions
- Sample concentration testing tool;
- Plenty of sample psychometric test questions and answers;
- Sample interview questions and what the assessors will expect from you;
- How to answer each interview question effectively and how to focus on safety;
- How to respond to each of the interview questions;
- Insider tips on how to score high.
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