Train conductor

A train conductor


Train conductors assist passengers in the boarding and leaving of the train. They answer questions from passengers concerning train rules, stations, and provide timetable information. They collect tickets, fares, and passes from passengers and support the chief conductor in performing his operational tasks e.g in regard to door closing or certain operational communication. They ensure the safety of passengers respond to technical incidents and emergency situations.

Train conductors typically do the following:

  • check the carriages are clean before the start of a journey
  • make sure equipment, doors and controls are working properly
  • communicate with engineers or other dispatch staff to determine the trains route, timetable, and cargo before departure; review alerts and documentation regarding track, equipment, or route difficulties.
  • greet customers and create a welcoming atmosphere
  • walk through carriages during the journey to check tickets and travel documents
  • answer passengers’ questions about routes, arrival times and connections
  • make announcements over the public address system
  • make sure passengers get on and off the train safely
  • deal with unexpected delays or emergencies, for example a passenger falling ill

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to train conductor:

railway conductor
conductor on trains
train attendant
train guard
rail 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

A high school diploma is often a minimum requirement for train conductors. However, some employers may prefer a post-secondary education in transportation or logistics.

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.

Train conductor is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Train conductor career path

Similar occupations

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

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

Long term prospects

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

aviation safety officer
air traffic controller
deck officer
aeronautical information service officer

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

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

  • Customs regulations for passengers: Understand passenger customs regulations; know which official documents or declaration forms are required from different kinds of passenger.
  • 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.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of train 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.
  • Focus on passengers: Transport passengers to their destination in a safe and timely fashion. Provide appropriate customer service; inform passengers in the event of unexpected situations or other incidents.
  • Assist passengers with timetable information: Listen to railway travellers and respond to their enquiries related to train times; read timetables to assist travellers with the planning of a trip. Identify in a timetable when a particular train service is scheduled to depart and arrive at its destination.
  • 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.
  • Speak different languages: Master foreign languages to be able to communicate in one or more foreign languages.
  • Supervise movement of passengers: Oversee embarking and disembarking of travellers; ensure that safety regulations are followed according to specifications.
  • Manage the customer experience: Monitor, create and oversee customer experience and perception of brand and service. Ensure pleasant customer experience, treat customers in a cordial and courteous manner.
  • 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.
  • Research passenger needs: Conduct research and investigations in order to identify and classify the needs and desires of passengers; enhance non-aviation related revenues from restaurant and retail offerings in the airport.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Monitor customer inquiries: Process questions and requests from customers; provide clear information about imported and exported products.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of train conductor. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of train 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. Train conductor – ESCO
  2. Train conductor | Explore careers – National Careers Service
  3. Railroad Conductor – SHRM
  4. Train Conductor Job Description: Salary, Duties & More – Climb the Ladder
  5. Featured image: By Dquai – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0
Last updated on November 6, 2022

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