Average Train Driver Salary in South Africa (2024)

The average Train Driver Salary in South Africa is R10,354 per month. An entry-level Train Driver earns a salary range of R5,304, a Mid-career level earns about R10,171, and a senior/experienced level earns R14,329 per month.

Average Train Driver Salary in South Africa

Job Title Approximate Monthly Salary (ZAR)
Entry-Level Train Driver 5,304
Mid-Career Train Driver 10,171
Experienced Train Driver 14,329

Types of Train Drivers and Their Functions in South Africa

In South Africa, the railway system plays a crucial role in transportation, and train drivers are key figures in ensuring the efficient operation of trains across the country. There are several types of train drivers, each with distinct functions that contribute to the smooth functioning of the railway network.

1. Passenger Train Drivers

These drivers operate trains that primarily transport passengers from one destination to another. Their responsibilities include ensuring the safety and comfort of passengers, adhering to schedules, and maintaining communication with control centres.

2. Freight Train Drivers

Freight train drivers are tasked with transporting goods and cargo across various regions. They must handle different types of freight, ranging from raw materials to finished products, and ensure that the cargo reaches its destination promptly.

3. Shunters

Shunters are responsible for moving train cars within rail yards, depots, or stations to organize and assemble trains. They play a vital role in the logistics of train operations, coupling and uncoupling cars, and positioning them for departure or storage.

4. High-Speed Train Drivers

With the development of high-speed rail infrastructure, there is a specialized category of train drivers responsible for operating high-speed trains. These drivers undergo specific training to handle the increased speed and advanced technology associated with high-speed rail travel.

5. Tourist Train Drivers

South Africa’s scenic landscapes attract tourist trains, and drivers in this category focus on providing passengers with a unique travel experience. They often share information about points of interest along the route and ensure passengers enjoy the journey.

6. Goods Yard Drivers

Operating in goods yards and freight terminals, these drivers facilitate the efficient movement of goods between trains and other modes of transportation. They work closely with shunters and logistics personnel to manage the flow of goods.

7. Metro or Commuter Train Drivers

Metro train drivers operate within urban areas, providing essential transportation for daily commuters. They navigate complex rail networks, ensuring the safety of passengers during frequent stops and starts.

8. Maintenance-of-Way Equipment Operators

Some train drivers operate specialized maintenance-of-way equipment, such as track inspection cars or rail grinders, to ensure the infrastructure’s integrity.

The diverse functions of train drivers in South Africa reflect the complexity and significance of the country’s railway system. Whether transporting passengers, or freight, or operating specialized trains, these professionals contribute to the efficient functioning and connectivity of the nation’s railways. Continuous training and adherence to safety standards are paramount in this dynamic and essential field.

Factors Affecting Train Driver Salaries in South Africa

The compensation of train drivers in South Africa is influenced by a multitude of factors that reflect the complexity and diversity of the railway industry. These professionals play a crucial role in ensuring the safe and efficient transportation of goods and passengers across the country. Understanding the various elements that contribute to train driver salaries is essential for both industry stakeholders and those considering a career in this field.

1. Experience and Seniority

One of the primary factors influencing train driver salaries is the level of experience and seniority. Generally, as train drivers accumulate more years of service and gain expertise in operating locomotives, their salaries tend to increase. Senior drivers with a wealth of experience may command higher compensation due to their proficiency in handling diverse situations on the rail network.

2. Qualifications and Training

Educational qualifications and specialized training are critical aspects that impact train driver salaries. Individuals with relevant certifications, such as a train driver’s license, and those who have undergone comprehensive training programs are likely to receive higher compensation. Additionally, ongoing professional development and adherence to safety protocols can further contribute to salary increments.

3. Type of Rail Operator

The nature of the rail operator also plays a role in determining train driver salaries. Different operators, whether state-owned or private, may have distinct salary structures based on their financial capabilities, organizational policies, and market dynamics. Collective bargaining agreements between operators and labour unions can also influence salary negotiations.

4. Union Agreements and Collective Bargaining

Train drivers in South Africa are often part of labour unions that negotiate employment terms and conditions on their behalf. Union agreements and collective bargaining play a significant role in establishing baseline salaries, benefits, and working conditions. The outcome of these negotiations can have a direct impact on the financial compensation received by train drivers.

5. Geographic Location

The geographic location of employment is another factor influencing train driver salaries. Urban areas with higher living costs may offer higher salaries to compensate for the increased expenses associated with city living. Remote or rural locations, on the other hand, might offer different compensation structures reflecting the local economic conditions.

6. Industry Demand and Supply

The demand for train drivers and the overall supply of skilled professionals in the industry can influence salary levels. Shortages of qualified train drivers may drive salaries higher as operators compete to attract and retain talent. Conversely, an oversupply of drivers may lead to more competitive compensation packages.

How to Become a Train Driver in South Africa

Becoming a train driver in South Africa involves a series of steps and qualifications. Here’s a detailed guide on how to pursue a career as a train driver in the country:

Educational Requirements

1. Matriculation (Grade 12): Ensure you have completed at least a Grade 12 education with subjects like Mathematics and Physical Science, as these are often prerequisites.

Skills and Prerequisites

2. Physical Fitness: Train driving requires good physical health. Applicants usually undergo medical examinations to ensure they meet the necessary health standards.

3. Communication Skills: Develop strong communication skills, as train drivers need to communicate effectively with control centres, other crew members, and sometimes passengers.

Training Programs

4. Technical Training: Enroll in a relevant technical training program or apprenticeship offered by institutions such as Transnet Freight Rail. These programs provide hands-on experience and theoretical knowledge about train operations.

5. Driver’s License: Obtain a valid driver’s license. This is often a prerequisite, as train drivers may need to drive vehicles on railway premises.

Gain Experience

6. Work as a Shunter: Consider starting as a shunter, which involves moving trains within railway yards. This provides practical experience and an opportunity to familiarize yourself with rail operations.

7. Apply for Entry-Level Positions: Monitor job openings for entry-level positions in the rail industry. These roles can include positions like assistant train driver or yard controller.

Licensing and Certification

8. National Certificate: Acquire the necessary national certificate for train driving, which may be offered through accredited training providers. This certification demonstrates your competence in operating trains.

9. Obtain a Train Driver’s License: Once you’ve completed the required training and gained experience, apply for a train driver’s license through the relevant regulatory authorities.

Application Process

10. Apply for Train Driver Positions: Keep an eye on job openings with railway companies and apply for train driver positions when available. Ensure your application highlights your relevant qualifications and experience.

Continuous Professional Development

11. Stay Informed: Keep yourself updated on industry developments, safety regulations, and technological advancements in rail transport.

12. Attend Refresher Courses: Periodically attend refresher courses to stay current with safety protocols and operational procedures.

Final Steps

13. Interview and Assessment: Prepare for interviews and assessments as part of the selection process. Be ready to demonstrate your knowledge, skills, and commitment to safety.

14. Security Clearances: Some positions may require security clearances, so be prepared to undergo background checks.

By following these steps, aspiring individuals can navigate the process of becoming a train driver in South Africa, combining education, practical experience, and the necessary certifications to embark on a rewarding career in rail transportation.



The average Train Driver Salary in South Africa is R10,354 per month. Train driver salaries in South Africa are influenced by a combination of factors, including experience, qualifications, the type of rail operator, union agreements, geographic location, and industry demand and supply dynamics. As the railway sector evolves and faces new challenges, understanding these factors becomes crucial for both employers and train drivers seeking fair and competitive compensation.