Train driving licences and certificates

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We've created a range of guides to explain the different responsibilities within the Train Driving Licences and Certificates Regulations 2010 (TDLCR). 

Together these guides provide comprehensive information on all aspects of the TDLCR.

We have also published a key facts leaflet for train drivers.

The Railway Safety and Standards Board has published a number of Railway Industry Standards that are relevant to the TDLCR and these are referred to in our guides above.

The Rail Delivery Group has also published guidance on meeting the requirements of the TDLCR for its members.

Why do we have licensing and certification for train drivers?

TDLCR (as amended) introduced the requirements of European Directives 2007/59/EC on the certification of train drivers and 2014/82/EU (the amending directive) in Great Britain. It also brought in a licensing and certification system for mainline train drivers. Together these Directives are part of the European Commission’s plan to make Europe’s railways more efficient and competitive.

The TDLCR aims to:

  • make it easier to operate cross-border rail services
  • create a more flexible job market for train drivers
  • introduce consistent standards for drivers across Europe
  • increase public confidence in the rail system

Who issues and enforces train driving licences?

Each Member State's safety authority must act as the 'competent authority' for train driver licensing and certification. We are the National Safety Authority in Great Britain, although there's a separate system in Northern Ireland.

We believe that the best way of making sure drivers are competent is through safety management systems. We usually issue licenses based on evidence supplied by train operators. However, we will still use our own safety certification and inspection systems to assure that train operators' arrangements for competence and fitness are good enough.

See our health and safety enforcement policy statement.

What are the train driving licence and certificate?
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The train driving licence is a document issued by us to the train driver once the train driver has passed the necessary general professional competence, medical and occupational psychological fitness examinations. The licence is valid for 10 years and is the personal property of the train driver until it expires or is suspended or withdrawn. A valid train driving licence remains valid even when the train driver changes employer.

The certificate is issued to the train driver by their employer and details the types of rolling stock which the driver may drive, and the infrastructure which the driver can drive trains over. Although the train driver holds the certificate, the certificate is the property of the employer. We have produced model copies of the certificate and the certified copy to download for when a train driver leaves employment.

Does the TDLCR apply to all railway undertakings and infrastructure managers?
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The TDLCR apply to railway undertakings and infrastructure managers who are required to hold a safety certificate or a safety authorisation under ROGS. If this is the case, you must make sure that the drivers who you employ to drive on the mainline railway meet the requirements of TDLCR.

TDLCR do not apply to drivers employed to work only:

  • in engineering possessions;
  • on metros (for example, London Underground), tramways or other light rail systems;
  • for heritage operations (as classified under ROGS); and
  • in depots (see the operator guide for more information).

Making a licence application
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Train Operators generally apply for licences on behalf of their drivers. These applications should be submitted via ORR’s online Train Driving Licence application system as this will speed up the process of issuing the licence. We have published guidance on using this system.

If you need more information on the application process, please email TDL Applications.

Licence suspension and withdrawal
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ORR may suspend or withdraw a train driving licence if it has sufficient evidence that the train driver no longer meets the general competence and medical requirements set out in the TDLCR. A train driver may decide to appeal to the Secretary of State for Transport against our decision to suspend or withdraw a licence. For more information on this process, please contact the Department for Transport.

We have published a pro-forma for employers of train drivers to submitting information to us that may affect the validity of a licence.

Train driver certificate appeals
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Drivers can appeal against the decision of a railway undertaking or infrastructure manager (under Regulation 36 of TDLCR) not to issue a train driver certificate, or to update or renew it. The appeal can also be made if the certificate is suspended or withdrawn. The company's internal appeal procedure must be used before ORR would consider any appeal. We have published guidance on the ORR appeal process which includes an application form. Applications should be emailed to TDL Applications or sent to the address in the guide.

Recognition of recognised persons – doctors, psychologists and training & examination centres
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Under the TDLCR, persons carrying out:

  • medical fitness examinations of train drivers;
  • occupational psychological fitness examinations of train drivers; or
  • training and examinations for  professional knowledge and competence of train drivers;
    must apply to be recognised by ORR for entry on to our registers..

We have produced application forms for doctors or psychologists who wish to be included on  ORR’s registers and these will help you provide the evidence to support a recognition application. See our separate guides above for more information.

Registers of recognised persons – doctors, psychologists and training & examination centres
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ORR maintains registers of recognised persons as required by the TDLCR and you can find out who is recognised from these registers below:

TDLCR and Brexit
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Following the UK's exit from the EU on 31 January 2020, the UK has entered a transition period until 31 December 2020 during which the UK and the EU will mutually recognise each other's train driving licences. Arrangements that may apply after the transition period are subject to the current negotiations between the EU and the UK and we will update this webpage accordingly once these are completed.

The TDLCR will apply during the transition period and, in amended form if necessary, after this transition period ends.

Train driving licences and data protection
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Please see our privacy notice about data protection and train driving licences.