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Training more drivers

We know that cancellations due to driver shortages are a major inconvenience. We’re tackling the problem head on with the UK’s biggest driver recruitment and training programme.

Why driver shortages happen

Sometimes you may see that a service has been cancelled due to a member of train crew being unavailable. We know how frustrating it can be and would like to apologise.

There may be various reasons for a member of train crew being unavailable.

For example, sometimes a service disruption will leave a train’s scheduled crew out of place.

Taking drivers out of service for training is another major factor. Even our veteran drivers need to undergo training on new routes around the on-going London Bridge works. And when we upgrade our trains, drivers need time to learn the new equipment.

However, the underlying truth is that sometimes we do not have enough drivers to carry out both day-to-day operations and our necessary training programmes. We do ask drivers to work on their rest days. But sometimes even that is not quite enough.

What we’re doing

We’re looking to steadily reduce our reliance on rest day working and deliver a more consistent service for our passengers. To do this, we’ve launched the biggest driver recruitment and training programme in the UK.

Our efforts are starting to pay off:

  • Double the number of driver trainers with more to follow
  • Triple the number of courses being run annually with more to follow
  • New training rooms at Letchworth and Bedford
  • Between the start of 2015 and 7 January 2017 we brought 78 more trained drivers on to Thameslink

When will the new training programme be complete?

It takes over a year to train a driver to our high safety standards – a minimum of 240 hours in practical training and an additional 840 hours spent learning theory. Since we cannot train the large number of drivers we need all at once, we’re running a rolling programme.

In addition, although we are recruiting and training, existing drivers do retire or leave for personal reasons. There are also new fleets of trains coming to Thameslink, which we will be training drivers to use.

As a result, the risk of cancellations will continue, especially during periods of high annual leave. But we are making steady progress. In the meantime we will continue to keep you informed of any possible cancellations via our station screens, app and website.

Thank you for bearing with us.