Follow Virgin Trains

Virgin Trains seeks out future train drivers in the UK’s first train driver apprenticeship scheme

Press Release   •   Feb 23, 2018 07:00 GMT

Samantha Jones, 24, trainee driver

Virgin Trains has opened applications for the UK’s first and only train driver apprenticeship scheme.

Working with train drivers’ union Aslef, the London to Glasgow operator is advertising for three people to join the year-long training course offering the unique opportunity to experience what it is like to be a train driver.

With many of their train drivers nearing retirement eligibility age, Virgin Trains on the lookout for fresh talent. The companyis hoping that the scheme will attract a diverse group of people including those who had previously not considered a career in rail.

During the programme, apprentices receive training in all aspects of the train driver role as well as additional learningbased on functional skills and English, Maths and ICT.  They shadow drivers, train managers and station staff so they can gain a full appreciation of how the driver's role fits within wider operations. Apprentices also benefit from experiencing other areas ofthe company including control and command, safety and fleet management andeven spend time with other Virgin companies, including Virgin Atlantic.  

Head of drivers for Virgin Trains, Nick Chadwick,said: “As someone who joined the rail industry to become a driver as an ambitious 19-year-old, I am keen to give the next generation the same opportunity. We're delighted that all three of the apprentices from the pilot have gone on to join our driver trainee scheme. We're looking forward to seeing the next three fortunate candidates come through the doors.'

Samantha Jones, 24, train driver apprentice graduate said of the scheme: "This apprenticeship has given me a chance to see what it's like to be a driver. I can't wait to start my official traineeship and eventually be responsible for getting thousands of customers to their destination every day. I hope the scheme will encourage more women to consider a career as a train driver – it's been such a rewarding experience for me."

Kevin Lindsay, District Organiser for Aslef said: “We welcome this joint initiative and look forward to continuing to develop the driver apprenticeship scheme with Virgin Trains as this is a great opportunity to bring young people into the rail industry and particularly the driving grade.”

The scheme follows last year's successful pilot which received over 1,200 applications for three places on the scheme. Thethreeplaces currently on offer will be based at Glasgow, Wolverhampton and London.Applications close02/03/18. For more information visit: 

About Virgin Trains:

Stagecoach and Virgin are working in partnership to operate the East Coast and West Coast inter-city routes under the Virgin Trains brand. Together, they are on track to revolutionise rail travel across the UK.

The combined network connects some of the nation’s most iconic destinations including Glasgow, Liverpool, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Leeds, York and London.

Virgin Trains is committed to delivering a high speed, high frequency service, offering shorter journey times, more comfortable travel and excellent customer service. Customers consistently rate Virgin Trains as one of the top long-distance rail franchise operators in the National Rail Passenger Survey (NRPS) commissioned by industry watchdog, Transport Focus.

On the East Coast route, £140m is being invested to create a more personalised travel experience. We have already invested over £40m in our existing fleet, including £21m refurbishing the interiors and £16m towards improving the engines of our trains. Customers can now benefit from 42 additional services between Edinburgh and London every week, and an extra 22 Saturday services between Leeds and London – a total of 1.74 million additional seats since May 2016. 2018 will see the introduction of completely new Azuma trains being built in the UK by Hitachi.

The West Coast route has a proud record of challenging the status quo - from introducing tilting Pendolino trains, to a pioneering automated delay repay scheme and becoming the first franchised rail operator to offer m-Tickets for all ticket types.

Working together, the partnership railway of the public and private sectors has published a long-term plan, called In Partnership for Britain’s Prosperity, to change and improve Britain’s railway. The plan will secure almost £85bn of additional economic benefits to the country and contains four commitments which will see rail companies: strengthen our economic contribution to the country; improve customers’ satisfaction; boost the communities we serve; and, create more and better jobs in rail. For more information go to Britain Runs on Rail.

Visit the Virgin Trains Media Room - - for the latest news, images and videos. Subscribe here for regular news from Virgin Trains.

Press Office: 0845 000 3333.