Provision of driver training services market study


Our study to understand the processes and procedures needed to become a qualified train driver on the UK network and how route specific training fits into this.

During the course of our exchanges with the industry we had been made aware of a number of difficulties encountered by new operators when trying to obtain route specific driver training, which we understood to be only available from incumbent operators, and which we also understood to be an integral part of achieving qualified driving status in the UK. The inference being that lack of access to such training could prove to be a barrier to entry for prospective passenger and freight train operators.

Our study, therefore, set out to understand better the processes and procedures necessary to become a qualified train operator on the UK network and how route specific training fitted into that process; what part incumbents played in the provision of training and the existence of alternative sources of supply; and finally the extent to which the Access to Training Services Regulations 2006 had remedied any existing 'barriers', by, for example, providing an appeal route to the ORR for entrants wishing to access the training services necessary to obtain a safety certificate.

The study used information and data already available to ORR either because it existed in the public domain or had been received as part of our normal regulatory exchanges with the industry.


Driver training is made up of the following four main stages:

  1. General company induction and basic safety
  2. Railway rules and regulations
  3. Traction training (the train itself)
  4. In-cab training (practical driving and route learning)

We understand that existing train operators largely conduct their own driver training, often within dedicated facilities. Our research indicated that third parties, such as Rail Training International and CCL Training, provide outsourced packages for the earlier stages of the training process and a number of training partnerships exist, whereby incumbent operators use the specialist skills of training firms/consultants to design and deliver training with them, for example as offered by Rail Training International.

Stages three and four, of the training process, appeared to pose the greatest potential to be difficult to obtain for a new entrant, as the stages are dependent on having access to the type of rolling stock that drivers would use, and require access to the routes over which the drivers would operate once qualified. If new operators could not gain access to these facilities or services, driver training could theoretically represent a barrier to market entry. We could find no evidence, however, that entry had been prevented by lack of access to these stages. We understand that access had previously been achieved by agreement between the parties, without the need for regulatory intervention.

The Railways (Access to Training Services) Regulations 2006 (which in part, implement article 13 of Council Directive 2004/49/EC dated 29 April 2004 on safety on the Community's railways ('the Safety Directive')) entitles applicants to "fair and non-discriminatory" access to the training services necessary to obtain a safety certificate, which any company seeking to operate trains on the UK network must have.

Safety certificates are, however, issued on the basis of management processes, rather than the achievement of the end result of those processes. It is, therefore, possible for an entrant to obtain a safety certificate prior to completing the training of its drivers and then be unable to benefit from the protections offered by the Regulations.

Our recommendation

In recognition of this potential gap in the protection offered to new entrants, we raised awareness of this matter with the Department for Transport and at European level, including as part of our contribution to the European Commission's consideration on recasting of the First Package (a work stream which we were aware was focusing on initiatives required to facilitate new entry to rail markets). We have also made efforts to increase the awareness of new entrants, to the protections available to them. This includes highlighting rights under the Regulations in our guidance document Starting mainline rail operations: a guide to the regulatory framework.

On the basis of the information available to us currently we do not consider the issue of driver training merits further more detailed investigation. We, therefore, do not intend to devote any further resource to this subject at this time. We continue to keep the situation under review, however, and would consider re-opening this subject area either in the light of complaints made to us or should participants in the market provide us with evidence which would lead us to re-consider our findings.