£33,800 Average salary at age 20
£51,480 Average Salary
44 Average hours per week


Rail transport operatives assist drivers in the operation of passenger and goods trains, drive locomotive engines in coal mines, guide wagons and coaches in marshalling yards and sidings to make up trains, operate signals and points to control the movement of rail traffic, and monitor the operation of surface and underground railways.

Main Tasks

  • Provides crews for breakdown trains, allocates relief and replacement crews as necessary, keeps crews informed of any line repairs or restrictions, and checks train running times for punctuality;
  • Examines schedules and decides priority of movement of trains, monitors movement of trains and issues instructions to drivers, signal operatives and level crossing keepers;
  • Operates signals and opens and closes barriers at level crossings as required;
  • Examines shunting instructions, uncouples wagons and coaches, guides movement of carriages using manual points and wagon breaks, links-up carriages, ensures security of couplings and reconnects brake and heating systems;
  • Assists drivers in the operation of diesel, diesel-electric, electric and steam locomotives;
  • Checks loading of tubs and carriages, and informs driver of load distribution and any special features of route.


There are no formal academic entry requirements. Candidates may be required to have good hearing, eyesight, and normal colour vision and pass a medical examination for entry to some posts. Training is initially undertaken in training centres, followed by practical experience on-the-job. NVQs/ SVQs in Rail Transport Operations are available at Level 2.

UK Prospects

19500 Workforce Size
0.18% Predicted growth 2024 - 2027
1821 Predicted Replacement 2024 - 2027

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