EU rail experts, ETF and CER, call for safe and feasible Train Drivers Directive Revision

16 Mar 2023

European transport workers and railway companies, represented by the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) and the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER), have issued a joint recommendation for the revision of the Train Drivers Directive. The proposal outlines suggestions for a certification scheme and communication approach that ensure railway safety, operational efficiency, and workers’ health and safety.

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

The ETF and CER emphasise the importance of safe, feasible, and proportionate requirements in the revision of the Train Drivers Directive. They recommend developing a digitalised train driver certification system with a modular approach recognising three levels: European, national, and company-specific.

Additionally, they oppose lowering the current B1 language requirement and introducing a single or additional common language requirement for the rail sector. This would require significant retraining of staff and service providers, hindering the shift from road to rail. Safe rail operations can only work if communication between drivers and traffic controllers, emergency services, and other rail staff works flawlessly, particularly in disrupted/emergency situations. The rail communication arrangements in place already ensure this essential requirement. ETF and CER support keeping the general requirement of language level “B1”. Regarding exemptions, ETF states that the minimum of a “B1” level shall be required on the entire European rail network, whereas CER favours exemptions for countries with more than one official EU language and for border sections.

The joint recommendation highlights the importance of social dialogue and expertise from daily railway work, operations, and business.

ETF and CER urge European institutions to consider their proposals with the firm belief that their joint recommendation will promote open and transparent discussions on EU policies, ensuring safe and effective rail operations.



ETF-CER Joint recommendation for the revision of the Train Drivers Directive
Joint ETF – CER Statement: Revision of the Train Drivers Directive (December 2022

About the ETF

The European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) represents over 5 million transport workers from more than 200 transport unions across Europe, from the European Union, the European Economic Area, and Central and Eastern Europe, in over 30 countries.

ETF’s work is driven by its vision for Fair Transport: quality jobs with safe, reliable transport services for customers.

The ETF is also on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

More Information

Begüm Boynukalin, ETF Communications Officer

Mobile Phone: (+32) 478 79 40 53