A Safe Revision of the Train Drivers Directive

The European Commission is revising the certification of train drivers operating locomotives and trains on the railway system in the EU – the Train Drivers Directive.

The current Train Drivers Directive (TDD) comes from a 2004 agreement between the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) and the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER).

Its aim is to make it easier for train drivers to move from one Member State to another and make it easier for them to move from one rail company to another.

Given the push for sustainable transport, the European Commission plans to revise the TDD to adapt to new developments in rail.

As the voice of railway workers across Europe, it is our duty to ensure that EU legislation does not harm workers and their passengers in revising the TDD.

Train drivers’ certification is essential to the safety of all, and while ETF agrees that it can be improved, we also believe that there are possible revisions that could pose safety risks.

ETF has issued a paper with key recommendations:

  • The current language requirement (B1) must be kept in place

Lowering the current language requirement would pose a huge safety risk.

An automated translation tool can support drivers but can NEVER replace direct communication with colleagues and emergency services in the local language.

The European Commission claims the current B1 requirement is an obstacle for cross-border operations – but that is false. Changing train drivers at borders takes only a few minutes.

The B1 language requirement needs to be maintained as the absolute minimum needed for the driver to communicate with the infrastructure manager, other railway staff and in the worst case emergency services.

  • Improving the license/certificate system       

ETF proposes a new structure for the licenses and certificates of train drivers that prevents duplication and makes it easier for a driver’s competencies to be recognised by companies and authorities.

  • Monitoring work, rest & driving time

A digital way of storing licenses and certificates can be a step toward better monitoring of drivers’ work, rest and driving time, which is needed to avoid abuses such as overtime and zero rest which also poses a huge safety risk.

  • Improved training standards

High minimum training standards are needed to guarantee safety on European railways, avoid a race to the bottom and prevent employers from competing on training costs and, thus safety.


ETF Position on the Train Drivers Directive

Joint ETF-CER Social Partner Statement on the Train Drivers Directive

Joint ETF-CER Recommendation for the revision of the Train Drivers Directive


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