Tube Driver Spills The Beans On Salaries, Strikes And Scary Tunnels

Tube Driver Spills The Beans On Salaries, Strikes And Scary Tunnels

In the same way Kate Bush does a gig once every few decades, once in a blue moon, a tube driver pops up on Reddit for an Ask Me Anything (AMA) sesh. It happened back in October 2019, and it's happened again in June 2022. We've picked out a few of the juiciest Q&As from the latest appearance.

A long shot of an Elizabeth line train in a tunnel
Correct, pedants, this is not the tube, but the Elizabeth line. Nice pic though. Image: TfL

What is the min and max salary of being a tube driver?

Every tube driver earns the same which is 62k per annum. We have something called test train operators. They earn 75k, and can earn up to 100k with overtime. The media always use these guys to falsely claim tube drivers are on 100k. There's like only 30 of them.

Is it hard to make the train stop in the exact right place?

Once you get used to it, it is easy. Very easy... The difficulty is platform interface, which basically means, observing the platforms and ensuring it is safe to depart. During peak times, this can be challenging.

Do you listen to music while you work?

All electronic devices are forbidden, and being seen using one is a sackable offence.

A pair of black headphones with a bright yellow background
Music is strictly forbidden. Image: C D-X on Unsplash

What's the longest you've been stuck at a red light or broken down for?

Two hours and I eventually had to drive the train the wrong direction back to the previous station. Yes, I had to walk through very angry passengers.

What do you do if you need a wee whilst driving?

Every station is no more than two mins away. We'd just call for a toilet relief. But we're expected to control our diets to ensure we don't need to go toilet during driving hours.

Do you get tired being in the dark most of the day?

Most of the lines spend more time outside than in the tunnels. The Victoria line is the only one I believe that is completely underground. In terms of getting tired, that's not due to the darkness, it happens more due to the shift patterns.

A red light
"I eventually had to drive the train the wrong direction back to the previous station." Image: Erwan Hesry on Unsplash

Is it scary in the tunnel?

Its very very dark, there are many graveyards in the tunnels I wish I never knew were there.

How do tube drivers deal with the noise?

They've recently issued us with ear defenders after the unions pressurised the company.

Do you get people being annoyed with you about tube strikes when you tell them you're a tube driver?

We always get assaulted at work by members of the public. My colleagues have been stabbed or chased with machetes, punched etc. Many drivers have started to avoid wearing full uniform because of it.

The front of Wembley Park station
"Angry football fans at Wembley Park tried to throw me on the track."  Image: M@/Londonist

What's the scariest thing to happen when you was driving?

Group of angry football fans at Wembley Park trying to throw me on the track.

Have you witnessed or been in an accident on the London Underground?

I've seen a someone get hit by a train. Which happens quite frequently with overly intoxicated passengers.

What side of the bed do you sleep on?

The side my wife tells me to.

Read the rest over on Reddit.

Last Updated 12 July 2022

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