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Train crew recruitment

Press Release   •   Dec 21, 2015 11:49 GMT

Sometimes you may see that a service has been cancelled due to a member of train crew being unavailable. We know how frustrating it can be and would like to apologise.

There may be various reasons for a member of train crew being unavailable, for example when the service is disrupted this can lead to train crews being displaced and unable to crew their next scheduled service.

However, one of the underlying factors is that sometimes we do not have enough train crew to carry out both day-to-day operations and the large amount of training required to enable long-term passenger service improvements, without asking train crew to work rest days.

We have been working flat out to address this with the UK’s biggest driver recruitment and training programme.

What are the pressures?

We, like the rest of the rail industry, rely on a degree of rest day working. The amount of rest day working we need fluctuates, depending on factors such as labour turnover and sickness levels, as well as covering for holiday leave.

What are we doing?

We have under way the biggest driver recruitment programme in the UK, alongside on-going conductor training. This will result in a more consistent service for our passengers.


For Southern/Gatwick Express, the total number of drivers who have been recruited, trained and brought into service since January 2015 is 98 with a further 78 in training.

How long will this take

It takes over a year to train a driver to the high safety standards expected in the industry – that’s a minimum of 240 hours in practical training and an additional 840 hours learning theory – and we cannot train the large number of drivers we need all at once so there is a rolling programme.

Also, while we are recruiting and training, existing train crew retire and leave for personal reasons.

As a result, there continues to be a risk of cancellations, in particular during periods of high annual leave – but we are steadily overcoming this. In the meantime we will continue to keep you informed of any possible cancellations via our station screens, app and website.

Thank you for bearing with us.