£49k a year, four days a week: Southern rail's hiring drivers

Rebecca Smith
Fancy becoming a train driver? Well now's your chance
Fancy becoming a train driver? Well now's your chance (Source: Getty)

Want to earn £49,000 a year for a four-day week? Southern rail wants you: the company is ramping up its efforts to recruit more drivers to cut down on disruption on its network.

Southern owner Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) said earlier this week it was after new drivers as it seeks to cut down its reliance on rest-day working and has started a new advertising campaign from today for full and part-time roles.

The ad says drivers work 35 hours a week across four days, after a training period lasting 12-15 months.

"At Southern, we’re modernising our train service and the way we operate our services for our passengers," said the strike-hit company.

"We’re looking for people enthusiasts, not just train enthusiasts to drive our trains.

"We believe that delivering a high level of customer service is far more important than whether you can name every steam train that we ever operated."

Strike misery

Both the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) and Aslef unions have been embroiled in a dispute with the train operator over the role of the guard, which has led to significant industrial action over a series of months.

A GTR spokesperson said it was continuing with "the UK's biggest driver recruitment project so that we can cover today's service" and be ready for additional services that it'll run in the future.

Southern's drivers have an average 35 hour, four-day working week.

Read more: More Southern rail strike action has just been announced

Since January 2015, 138 drivers have passed their training on Southern and there are 87 Southern rail drivers currently in training. There are just under 1,000 drivers in total. GTR has an ongoing objective to maintain a pool of 200 trainee drivers across the franchise.

"Even recently qualified drivers need to learn different routes of the complex Sussex network to be fully conversant with all the work they will be asked to do from the depots they work in," the GTR spokesperson added.

It comes after transport secretary Chris Grayling sent a letter to MPs on 5 January, saying "a large part of our rail system depends on driver overtime to operate a full timetable - something which is not acceptable and which needs now to be addressed".

Grayling added that the Southern franchise needed "very significant remedial work", which it will get "as soon as the strikes are over".

Read more: Govia to take union Aslef to Supreme Court over Southern rail strikes

Train drivers' union Aslef is also in the midst of an overtime ban, having instructed its drivers not to do any overtime hours.

Mick Whelan, Aslef's general secretary, said: "Southern has never employed enough drivers to fulfil its franchise commitments; that's why the company is cancelling so many trains, after eroding the goodwill of its drivers, who are no longer working overtime. It is currently cancelling 25 per cent of its services on non-strike days, because of our overtime ban. So it would need to recruit 300 more train drivers just to deliver the service it promised to deliver when it won its franchise."

The union has more walkouts planned for the 24, 25 and 27 January, while the RMT is holding strike action on Monday 23 January.

GTR has launched another legal bid to stop Aslef - taking the union to the Supreme Court, after a High Court attempt failed.

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