Chief conductor

A chief conductor


Chief conductors are responsible for the safe performance of all operational tasks on board of passenger trains outside the drivers cab, such as supervising safe opening and closing of the train’s doors. They supervise and ensure the continuous care for the safety of passengers, especially in the case of technical incidents and emergency situations. They ensure the operational communication to the driver and to traffic control staff as defined in operational regulations. In case of several staff members attending the train, they supervise the team of conductors. They also provide commercial activities such as ticket control and selling, and provide support and information to passengers, and provide gastronomic services.

The duties of a chief conductor include, but are not limited to:

  • Coordinating with other railroad employees including conductors, engineers, dispatchers, and maintenance staff
  • Inspecting equipment for defects and performing basic maintenance tasks such as lubricating machinery or changing oil filters
  • Maintaining records of cargo weight, volume, and type for all shipments handled by the train
  • Coordinating with train crews and dispatchers to ensure that all trains are running on time
  • Examining tickets to determine whether passengers have valid tickets for their trip
  • Communicate with other railroad employees regarding upcoming arrivals and departures of trains
  • Communicating with engineers about track conditions, obstacles, and other information that may affect the train’s route
  • Reporting accidents and other emergencies to the dispatcher or train crew, as needed
  • Monitoring the condition of track switches and signals to ensure that they are working properly

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to chief conductor:

train crew supervisor
conductor crew supervisor
train chief conductor
chief guard
train conductor
train conductors supervisor
chief train conductor

Working conditions

Train conductors work in the cab of the locomotive, in the passenger cars, or in both. They work long hours, often 10 to 12 hours a day, and may work weekends and holidays. They are on their feet most of the time and must be able to lift and carry heavy luggage. Train conductors must be able to work in all types of weather conditions. They must be able to hear train signals and announcements and to see signals along the track.

Minimum qualifications

To become a chief conductor, it is necessary to have an extensive experience as a train conductor.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Chief conductor is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Chief conductor career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to chief conductor.

train conductor
passenger fare controller
train dispatcher
bus driver
railway sales agent

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of chief conductor. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of chief conductor with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

deck officer
non-vessel operating common carrier
aeronautical information specialist
aviation safety officer
executive assistant

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of chief conductor.

  • Tramway regulations: Know the regulations governing tramways and apply these regulations in the daily operations of tram transportation. Ensure that standards are met in relation to safeguarding the well-being of passengers and the tramway company.
  • Railway framework legislation: Know and apply railway framework legislation where requirements for railways in the EU are established. Know legislation that applies to the field of cross-border freight transit.
  • Passenger transport regulations: Have knowledge of passenger transport conventions and regulations.
  • Train routes: Know principal train routes and quickly search for relevant information to respond to customer questions. Provide advice on potential shortcuts and itinerary options.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of chief conductor.

  • Check carriages: Check train carriages to ensure cleanliness before the start of a train journey. Ensure that on-board services and entertainment (if any) are functioning as required.
  • Communicate with customers: Respond to and communicate with customers in the most efficient and appropriate manner to enable them to access the desired products or services, or any other help they may require.
  • Operate electronic payment terminals: Operate electronic payment terminals to collect credit or debit card payments from the travellers.
  • Help to control passenger behaviour during emergency situations: Know how to use life-saving equipment in emergency situations. Provide assistance if leakages, collisions or fires should occur, and support the evacuation of passengers. Know crisis and crowd management, and administer first aid on board.
  • Ensure implementation of safe driving practices: Establish principles and standards of safe driving among staff. Impart information on safe driving practices to staff and ensure that they utilise these in the performance of transport operations.
  • Sell train tickets: Sell train tickets to railway travellers, taking into account destinations, schedules, and discounts available. Accurately check the validity of a range of tickets.
  • Monitor train schedules: Ensure train schedules are followed; trains should not leave the station too late or too early. Monitor and regulate train dispatch and arrival in order to avoid trains arriving either too late or too early.
  • Speak different languages: Master foreign languages to be able to communicate in one or more foreign languages.
  • Assist passengers in emergency situations: Assist train passengers in emergency situations, following specific procedures to ensure their safety; minimise the damage that unexpected situations may cause.
  • Communicate clearly with passengers: Speak clearly in addressing travellers; communicate information related to their itinerary. Make announcements to passengers upon approaching the prescribed destination.
  • Communicate reports provided by passengers: Transmit information provided by passengers to superiors. Interpret passenger claims and follow up requests.
  • Ensure passenger comfort: Ensure the safety and comfort of train passengers; help passengers to get on and off the train using any mechanical aids as necessary. Respond to passengers requests and pursue maximum customer satisfaction.
  • Handle petty cash: Handle petty cash for minor expenses and transactions required for the daily running of a business.
  • Provide information to passengers: Provide passengers with correct information in a polite and efficient manner; use proper etiquette to assist physically challenged travellers.
  • Tend to passenger belongings: Handle passenger belongings; assist elderly or physically challenged travellers by carrying their luggage.
  • Handle stressful situations: Deal with and manage highly stressful situations in the workplace by following adequate procedures, communicating in a quiet and effective manner, and remaining level-headed when taking decisions.
  • Operate railway communication systems: Operate railway communication systems; make announcements over the public address system or communicate with central train administration.
  • Control the opening and closing of train doors: Control the opening and closing of train doors during stops. Ensure and enforce security measures for passengers entering and leaving the train. Ensure that equipment, train doors and controls are functioning properly.
  • Check tickets throughout carriages: Check tickets and travel documents while walking through carriages during the journey. Maintain physical stability and service attitude during inspections.
  • Answer questions about the train transport service: Respond to all questions customers may have about the transportation services on a train. The conductor should posses a broad range of knowledge on fares, schedules, train services, passwords or web services, etc.
  • Assist disabled passengers: Use appropriate safety procedures to operate lifts and secure wheelchairs and other assistive devices while assisting physically disabled travellers.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of chief conductor. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Act reliably: Proceed in a way that one can be relied on or depended on.
  • Use different communication channels: Make use of various types of communication channels such as verbal, handwritten, digital and telephonic communication with the purpose of constructing and sharing ideas or information.

ISCO group and title

5112 – Transport conductors

  1. Chief conductor – ESCO
  2. Train Conductor Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More – Climb the Ladder
  3. Featured image: By N509FZ – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0
Last updated on November 6, 2022

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