EU Train Drivers’ Directive revision should focus on safety of workers and passengers

2 Sep 2022

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

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.

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

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.

  • 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.



The Directive originates from an agreement signed by ETF and EU Social Partner CER on the “European licence for drivers carrying out a cross-border interoperability service”.

The aim of this agreement was:

  • Facilitating driver interoperability as a means to increase international rail transport.
  • Maintaining and even increasing the level of safety and, to this end, guaranteeing the quality level of the performance of the train crew by ensuring and verifying compliance with levels of competence adapted to the respective European railroad systems.
  • Contributing to the efficiency of the management of train drivers in the interoperability service by railway undertakings.
  • Reducing the risks of social dumping.

ETF’s position on the revision of the Directive can be downloaded at your right.