Train driving licences and certificates

The Train Driving Licences and Certificates Regulations 2010 (TDLCR) give duties to different organisations and people and we have produced a series of separate guides to explain the duties and responsibilities arising from the TDLCR. Together these guides form a complete set of guidance for all aspects of the TDLCR.

There are separate guides for:

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 which are relevant to the TDLCR and these are referred to in our guides above.

The Rail Delivery Group has also published guidance on meeting the requirements of the TDLCR for its members.

Why do we have a licensing and certification requirement for train drivers?

TDLCR (as amended) is legislation that brought into force the requirements of European Directives 2007/59/EC (on the certification of train drivers) (the Directive) and 2014/82/EU (the amending Directive) in Great Britain. It introduced a licensing and certification system for mainline train drivers in Great Britain. The two Directives form part of the European Commission’s plan to make Europe’s railways more efficient and competitive.

The purpose of the TDLCR is 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; and
  • increase public confidence in the rail system through the requirement for certain groups of train drivers to hold a licence.

Who issues and enforces train driving licences?

The Directive requires that each Member State’s national safety authority should act as the ‘competent authority’ for train driver licensing and certification. ORR is the National Safety Authority in Great Britain. Separate arrangements exist for train drivers in Northern Ireland.

We believe that the best way of ensuring the fitness and competence of drivers is through safety management systems. As such, we will generally be content to issue licences on the basis of evidence supplied by train operators in support of driver licence applications. We will ensure through our separate safety certification and inspection of safety management systems that train operators’ arrangements for competence and fitness are adequate.

Our approach to enforcing the TDLCR is in line with the approach set out in our health and safety enforcement policy statement.

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.

  • Template certificate (available later in June 2019)
  • Template certified copy of a certificate (available later in June 2019)

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).

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.

Licence suspension and withdrawal

ORR may suspend or withdraw a train driving licence if it has sufficient evidence that the train driver no longer meets the general competence and medical requirements set out in the TDLCR. A train driver may decide to appeal to the Secretary of State for Transport against our decision to suspend or withdraw a licence. For more information on this process, please contact the Department for Transport.

We have published a pro-forma for employers of train drivers to submitting information to us that may affect the validity of a licence.

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 maintains registers of recognised persons as required by the TDLCR and you can find out who is recognised from these registers below:

TDLCR and the UK’s exit from the EU

The Train Driving Licences and Certificates (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 have been prepared to provide a regulatory framework for the licensing and certification of train drivers on the mainline railway in Great Britain if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. The regulations will only come into force if and when the UK leaves the EU without an exit deal in place. ORR has published guidance to the regulations which explains:

  • the changes that have been made
  • what stays the same
  • the implications for mutual recognition of licences and certificates in Great Britain and the EU
  • transitional arrangements

Train driving licences and data protection

Please see our privacy notice about data protection and train driving licences.

Publications and updates