In India, the train drivers/locomotive drivers or loco drivers, work exclusively with either the Indian Railways or the Metro services. The aspirants are selected based on their aptitude for the job and trained by the Indian Railways according to their Regional Railway Board (RRB) results. The role is similar to that of an airline pilot and the driver is responsible for steering safely the lives of thousands of passengers daily. It is not just people that the loco pilot ferries, but freight and goods also. Hence, a train driver’s job is not just about aptitude but is one that is challenging since they work shifts that are 24/7. They are also responsible for the safe passage of both passengers and goods.
While the drivers get an attractive Central Government train driver salary in India gets a lot of benefits. This job has till recently been a male bastion, being now overturned with gender equality being the followed norm. The job location is dependent on the RRB or Regional Railway Board requirements that also impact the salary. Places like Bangalore, Hyderabad, Gurgaon, Pune, Mumbai, Chennai etc., are preferred for slightly better salaries.
Did you know? The train drivers in India are tasked with moving a daily average of 25 million commuters, 2.8 million tons of freight using 59,713 coaches, 2,29,381 wagons, and 9,213 loco diesel or electric engines!
Key Responsibilities of a Train Driver:
A train driver’s responsibilities include and are not limited to driving alone. They must:
- Check the coaches and engine maintenance, cleanliness, safety alarms etc., of the train before every journey.
- They should be aware of the track issues, maintenance conditions and requirements, weather conditions, route maps, travel schedule etc.
- Tracks typically have signals every 1.5 meters apart, and hence, they should adhere to the signalling procedures and operations.
- Be aware of the precautions, safety, first-aid, medical and emergency protocols.
- Maintain a safe speed and utmost caution at all times.
- Check the instruments emergency and brake equipment before every journey.
- Stop at every scheduled stop on the route map.
- Record all problems they face, logs, time maps etc.
- Pay Income tax on the train driver salary.
Train driver career growth pattern:
Train drivers in the Indian Railways start as assistant train loco pilots or drivers and then get promoted to the higher levels by the Ministry of Railways.
- The Assistant Train Loco Drivers move into the next level of a Senior Assistant Train Loco Pilot and finally to the Train or Loco Pilot levels.
- An experienced loco pilot doesn’t just repeat his job but has opportunities to grow his or her career and train driver salary India as a Crew Controller, Loco Supervisor, Power Controller, Loco Fireman, etc.
- Nowadays, some drivers are being trained in Artificial Intelligence simulations, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality development, Customer Retention Development and more.
Hence, based on interest and skilling, the train driver can evolve their career and salary.
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Salary Progression: What is the salary of train drivers in India?
- The average railway engine driver salary per year is around ₹3,60,000 with a range of ₹2,21,800 to ₹10 Lakhs.
- This is lower than the average salary in India, which is around ₹3,87,500 per annum (pa) or ₹32,840 per month (pm).
- On average, you can expect to start your train driver job at the Indian railway driver salary of ₹2,21,800.
- With experience and skill improvements, you can expect a growth in the salary of railway drivers to reach ₹10L. Experienced drivers draw an average payout of ₹6,22,100.
Salary Based on Experience:
- You can expect to draw a train driver salary that would fall in the bracket of a starter with 0 to 3 years experience and an average salary of ₹2,21,800.
- A mid-career driver with 4 to 9 years of experience may draw an average salary of ₹3,48,700.
- An experienced driver with 10 to 20 years of experience could draw a salary of train driver in India of ₹6,22,100.
- Those with more than 20 years of experience would be termed late-career drivers and earn approximately an average of ₹8,10,300.
Here’s a quick table of the salaries:
Experience in years
Average Salary drawn in ₹ pa
None to 3
4 to 9
10 to 20
The experienced drawers show an increase in salaries of about 73% while the late-career driver's salaries increase close to 125% when they make the best use of their experience and skills. Mid-career and entry-level drivers lack experience, which can affect their salaries and promotions.
Selection and Eligibility Requirements:
The silently working 24/7 Railway Loco-Pilots are by far the most critical persons in executing a huge freight and passenger transportation task. To become a Train Pilot or Driver and earn the railway driver salary in India, you must have the following eligibility criteria:
You must be in the 18-30 age group. The OBC, SC, ST candidates are provided age relaxation following the government and RRB norms.
To get selected as a Train/Loco Driver or an ALP- Asst Loco Pilot (ALP), you should have:
- A pass in Class X or equivalent exams.
- Have completed the Diploma recognised by All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) or Industrial Training Institute (ITI) exams recognised under the Apprentices Act.
How to become a loco pilot/train driver- Selection Procedure:
The Regional Railway Recruitment Boards (RRB) are tasked with conducting the exams and selection procedure for the post of Assistant Train/Loco Pilot (RRB-ALPs). The ALP posts are advertised from time to time by the RRBs and Metro Rail Corporations.
The selection and exam have four stages described below:
- The CBT or Computer Based First Stage is a short-listing and elimination round for candidates taking the next CBT exam. The marks scored here are not added to the final ranking merit list.
- In the second stage, a computer-based knowledge test CBAT-2 or Part-A is conducted and the marks scored here are used to form a merit list for the RRB-ALP posts.
- The aspirants must also qualify in the knowledge qualifying test in CBT-2 or Part-B. The final score uses a weighted system with 70% marks weightage for the knowledge section, and 30% marks weightage for the CBAT to form the final merit list.
- The fourth stage is Document Verification. The selected aspirants are issued call letters based on the final merit list drawn up and attend a document verification and counselling session. Note that only CBAT scores are used to shortlist candidates called for document verification.
After selection and recruitment to an Assistant loco pilot or train driver, the aspirant train drivers are trained for 12 months at the Zonal Railway Training Centre (ZRTC). The training covers all operational, technical and safety aspects of driving a diesel and electric locomotive engines. Even during your training, you will earn the salary of a train driver in India.
A train driver in Indian railways commences their career as an Assistant Driver of the diesel or electric locomotives, being responsible for signalling, checking the functioning of the engines, tracks, etc.
With about two years of service as the Electric/Diesel Asst Driver working and 60k km of driving experience, they are eligible for promotions to the next grade.
Starting with goods trains, drivers are upgraded to passenger trains and finally the express trains taking about 10 years of experience.
The various driver grades linked to the train driver salary in India are Asst Driver ALP, Passenger Driver PD, Senior Passenger Driver SPD, Goods Driver GD, Senior Goods Driver SGD, Shunter, Sr Shunter, Diesel Asst DA, Sr Diesel Asst SDA, and Electric Asst EA.
- The driver’s salary immaterial of the post or train type is the same.
According to the 6th CPC or Central Pay Commission, the Indian railway's driver had a basic pay of ₹5830 pm besides a grade pay of ₹1900 pm.This salary was the same for all the drivers/Loco Pilots/Assistant Loco Pilots under Indian Railways. Along with the various allowances, the starting salary is a total of ₹26,750 pm.
The 7th CPC increased the basic by 23.46% from ₹5830 to ₹9300 pm and the grade-pay from ₹1900 to ₹4200. Thus the Loco Pilot now gets a gross salary of ₹33,000 to ₹34,980 pm depending on the allowances.
The salary of Indian railway drivers begin in the range of ₹30,000 to ₹34,980 per month if you are a fresher and is as per the 7th Pay Commission implemented in 2016 January. Perks and benefits include gratuity, CPF- contributory provident fund, RRB hospital network medical facilities for driver and family, concessional or free pass on trains and more. They also benefit from allotments of housing facilities in railway colonies, out-station and overtime pay, HRA or House Rent Allowance, DA (112% of the Basic) or Dearness Allowance, TA or Travel Assistance, RA or Running Allowance, which is km-based.
Train Drivers are eligible for several perks over and above the railway driver salary, such as:
- Medical leave: In any career year, the medical leave applicable is 10 days (full pay) followed by 20 (half-pay) and further periods if sanctioned without pay. If a driver rejoins duty after a break of 6 months, a medical exam is mandatory and, if found unsuitable, is reallocated to other posts.
- Paternity leave: This can be availed twice in your career, is a maximum of 15 days and generally not refused. However, leave even when clubbed should not exceed 5 continuous years.
- Medical Expense Reimbursements: If the R ailway Medical/Hospital Authorities refer the driver or family members to an external hospital, such medical expenses are reimbursed on the production of receipts, bills etc., and need to be certified by the Hospital superintendent of the external hospital.
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Train drivers are responsible and hardworking professionals. The job can get arduous since they sometimes need to work long hours, stay overnight at remote locations, and work shifts that change and have a 24/7 pattern. Therefore, we hope you have gained an insight into the train driver salary in India and how it has evolved over the years.
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