Railway train conductors may also be known as train managers, guards or ticket inspectors. They work on passenger trains, making sure that travellers are safe, comfortable and have paid for their journey.
Throughout a train journey passengers are getting on and off trains, so much of the conductor's time is spent walking through the carriages checking tickets and carrying out other duties. Their work varies depending on the route they are working on, but responsibilities generally include customer service work such as:
At the end of a journey, conductors write a report, including any delays, problems, incidents, hazards or difficulties they encountered.
Railway conductors normally work 35 to 37 hours a week. Daily hours vary depending on the route they are assigned to. Overtime is common. Trains run through the day and night, so conductors work shifts covering days, evenings, nights, weekends and bank holidays. Conductors on long-distance routes may be required to stay overnight at the end of a journey before they start their next shift.
Conductors usually have a small compartment/office on the train, from where they can talk to the driver and make announcements. The office may be fitted out with a computer terminal and CCTV. Most of a conductor's time is spent moving around the train and talking to passengers.
They wear a uniform, which is provided by the employer.
Conductors' starting salaries may be around £13,000 a year.
Railway train conductors are mainly employed by train operating companies (TOCs) who run rail passenger services throughout the UK. There are currently 24 rail franchises in Great Britain. A full list is available on the National Rail website, www.nationalrail.co.uk.
There is currently an increase in the number of driver-only trains on short suburban routes, with job opportunities for conductors being mainly concentrated on the longer-distance routes. There are job opportunities for conductors across the country.
Vacancies are advertised on the websites of individual train companies and may also appear at Jobcentre Plus offices and in local newspapers. Some TOCs recruit conductors from their existing train or station staff.
There are no set qualifications to become a railway train conductor. However, TOCs typically look for a good standard of education, such as some GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3), preferably including English and maths.
Applicants also need to pass a series of assessment tests and a full medical for fitness, eyesight, colour vision and hearing. There is a rigid safety policy on drug and alcohol abuse, and random alcohol and drug tests may be conducted at any time.
The minimum age for this job is 18 years, and most companies look for people who have experience in other customer service work. It may be possible to start work with a TOC at a younger age as a member of station staff and apply for the job of conductor at a later date.
There are a limited number of Apprenticeships available for passenger service roles, which can include work on-board trains.
Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.
Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.
There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Laboratory technicians carry out routine laboratory tests and perform a variety of technical support functions to help scientists, technologists and others with their work. They can work in research and development, scientific analysis and testing, education and manufacturing.
They are employed in a wide range of scientific fields which affect almost every aspect of our lives.
Training for new entrants normally lasts up to six months. It includes sessions both in the classroom and on-board trains. The training includes information on the rules of the TOC, health and safety, the skills and knowledge needed to follow and interpret timetables, and issue and price tickets, and customer service skills. These are updated from time to time as regulations or routes change.
Conductors may work towards NVQ/SVQ at Level 2 in Rail Transport Operations (Passenger Services).
Railway train conductors need:
Railway train conductors may be promoted to senior conductor or train crew team leader, and then train crew manager or train manager.
Conductors can also move into revenue protection jobs and general management posts. They are also in a good position to be considered for training as a driver.
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