We've created a range of guides to explain the different responsibilities within the Train Driving Licences and Certificates Regulations 2010 (TDLCR).
Our guides provide comprehensive information on all aspects of the TDLCR.
- Guide for train operators
- Guide to the medical and occupational psychological fitness requirements
- Guide to training and examination requirements
- Guide to the suspension and withdrawal of licences
- Guide to the certificate appeals process
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.
Post Implementation Review of the Train Driving Licences and Certificates Regulations 2010
The Train Driving Licences and Certificates Regulations 2010 (TDLCR) are subject to a post implementation review (PIR) every 5 years to assess whether the regulations remain fit for purpose and are achieving their original objectives.
During 2022 ORR carried out a survey of stakeholders for the PIR on behalf of the Department for Transport (DfT).
A PIR report has now been published by DfT. The report concludes that the regulations should remain in place but there is scope for reform of the regulations.
A more detailed review of areas highlighted for reform will be taken forward with industry stakeholders and there will be further consultation on any changes proposed to TDLCR.
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?
The ORR is the “competent authority” for train driving licencing 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 remain competent is through operator safety management systems. We usually issue licences 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.
What are the train driving licence and certificate?
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?
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).
Cross-border train driving guidance
The Train Driving Licences and Certificates (Amendment) Regulations 2022
A Statutory Instrument (SI) regarding the legal requirement to hold train driving licences to operate in the UK section of the Channel Tunnel zone came into force on 31 January 2022. This makes provisions for specific operations between the UK and France, in particular enabling some operators to revert to their train drivers being legally required to hold one train driving licence for travel through the concession/fixed link area of the Channel Tunnel. Further detail can be found at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/id/uksi/2022/85
Our cross-border train driving document provides guidance on meeting the requirements of The Train Driving Licences and Certificates Regulations 2010 (as amended) solely in relation to cross-border train driving from 1 February 2022.
Professional Qualifications Act 2022
ORR is required to conform with the requirements of Section 8 of the Professional Qualifications Act 2022 (the PQ Act). This includes publishing information on the qualifications and experience an individual must obtain to become entitled to practice train driving in Great Britain, among other areas.
In Great Britain, the requirements for obtaining a train driving licence are set out in the Train Driving Licences and Certificates Regulations 2010 (TDLCR 2010), and licences are issued by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR).
In Northern Ireland, the requirements are set out in the Train Driving Licences and Certificates Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010 (TDLCRNI 2010) and regulated by the Northern Ireland Department for Infrastructure (NIDFI).
These regulations are substantially derived from Directive 2007/59/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2007 on the certification of train drivers operating locomotives and trains on the railway system in the Community (as amended).
ORR publishes information on the requirements for obtaining a train driving licence.
The PQ Act also requires ORR to publish information on the number of people from overseas and Northern Ireland seeking to enter the profession in Britain. This information will be published periodically on ORR's website.
Professional Qualifications Act 2022 and UK Free Trade Agreements
The Professional Qualifications Act 2022
In accordance with section 8 of the Professional Qualifications Act 2022 (“the PQ Act”), the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) is required to publish information on the qualifications and experience an individual must obtain to become entitled to practice train driving in Great Britain. This can be found on this webpage. This will be accurately maintained and updated when required.
Every 12 months, by January, we will publish information regarding the number of people from overseas and Northern Ireland who have sought to enter the profession in Great Britain during the previous calendar year.
2022 data: We did not receive any overseas or Northern Ireland applications for GB train driving licences in the period 1 January 2022 to 31 December 2022. (This data is correct as of 1 December 2023).
Free Trade Agreements
Details of any Free Trade Agreements which include train driving licensing matters will be published below.
Free Trade Agreement with Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein
In July 2021, the UK signed a Free Trade Agreement (“the Agreement”) with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. These countries are members of both the European Economic Area (EEA) and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) so are collectively referred to as the ‘EEA EFTA states’. The Agreement establishes a system for the recognition of professional qualifications (RPQ) with the aim of enhancing existing trade and investment relationships with the EEA EFTA states.
In accordance with The Equality Act 2010, ORR will not discriminate against holders of a Train Driving Licence (TDL) from the agreement counties either directly or indirectly. Therefore, a train driver with an existing TDL from Norway, Lichtenstein or Iceland will be deemed to meet the conditions for holding a TDL in GB provided they have completed basic training equivalent to at least Level 3 (as defined on legislation.gov.uk) and passed a general professional competence examination which is set and approved by ORR.
ORR’s position is that basic training qualifications for a TDL from these EEA EFTA countries is likely to achieve the required standard in GB and that this can be evidenced by a Statement of Comparability provided by the applicant. As regards the general competence examination, it may be necessary for applicants from the agreement countries above to pass an examination or aptitude test that covers the objectives and requirements set out in Schedule 3 of the Train Driving Licences and Certificate Regulations 2010 which have not been demonstrated by any other recognised overseas professional qualification. This is because qualifications already obtained may not deal with UK-specific health and safety requirements. This will be assessed on a case-by-case basis by the operator who has employed the driver.
GB Train Operators – Please contact TDL.Applications@orr.gov.uk for further information as soon as you receive an application from an existing licenced train driver based in Norway, Lichtenstein, or Iceland.
Train drivers from Norway, Lichtenstein, or Iceland – To become a mainline train driver in GB you must apply directly to a train operator where your application will be assessed through their recruitment processes.
If your application is successful, the operator must advise ORR of your existing licence details including your TDL number and confirm whether the full conditions for holding a GB licence have been met.
As a mainline train driver, you will have to undertake the same route and traction training as GB licence holders and maintain your general competence in accordance with the operators Safety Management System.
Making a licence application
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.
Renewing train driving licences
The Train Driving Licences and Certificates Regulations (TDLCR) 2010 provide that licences are valid for a maximum of 10 years. Therefore, as a licence expiry date approaches, train operators should read our form and then submit it on behalf of the driver.
There is no limit in respect of how far in advance of expiry a licence can be renewed. We will process complete applications within one calendar month. However, we suggest applying in a timely manner as, in our experience, incomplete applications can affect processing times. A driver must be in possession of their licence at all times when driving a train.
Completed application forms and all attachments should be emailed to TDL.Applications@orr.gov.uk.
Licence suspension and withdrawal
The Office of Rail and Road (ORR), infrastructure managers / train operators and licensed train drivers each have legal obligations under the Train Driving Licences and Certificates Regulations 2010.
In April 2023, ORR produced updated guidance on the suspension and withdrawal of licences, which focusses on these obligations as they apply to issues about the validity of a train driving licence. We set out our expectations for the actions infrastructure managers, train operators and drivers can take, and ORR’s role in suspending or withdrawing a licence, if required.
Whenever infrastructure managers and train operators’ monitoring systems raise any issue relevant to the continuing validity of a train driving licence, they should firstly contact ORR using the Suspension and Withdrawal Information Form.
Train driver certificate appeals
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
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
ORR is required by the Train Driving Licences and Certificates Regulations 2010 to hold and keep up to date a register of persons we have recognised as competent to carry out the medical and occupational psychological fitness examinations for train drivers.
Our guidance on the Train Driving Licences and Certificates Regulations 2010: A guide to the occupational psychological fitness and medical requirements (paragraphs 4.2 and 4.4) set out the criteria for recognition and these must continue to be met in order to remain on our registers (see para 4.12 of our guidance document).
ORR maintains registers of recognised persons as required by the TDLCR and you can find out who is recognised from these registers.