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Train DriverAlternative titles

Kaitaraiwa Rerewhenua

This job is sometimes referred to as:

Locomotive Engineer

Train drivers drive passenger or freight trains.

Contact us

Call us on 0800 222 733

What are the chances of getting a job?


Job opportunities for train drivers are generally good due to increasing worker numbers and high retirement rates.

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment estimates show the number of train drivers increased by about 17% between September 2010 and September 2012.

People leaving the role creating opportunities for new train drivers

The average age of a train driver is over 50, and the retirement rate is more than double that of most occupations. Openings are also being created train drivers are moving to Australia for better pay.

Experience in the rail industry gives advantage to job hunters

KiwiRail, the biggest employer of train drivers, usually has four to six intakes of trainee drivers a year, with four trainees per intake. People with experience in the industry, such as railway shunters, are usually given preference.

Opportunities best in Auckland and Wellington

Opportunities to become a train driver tend to be best in Wellington and Auckland, which have major freight depots and the only urban commuter networks in the country. The expansion of the Auckland rail network may see more positions become available in Auckland in next five to 10 years.

KiwiRail is also recruiting train drivers in Hamilton, Palmerston North and Christchurch for their freight operation.

Only two employers for train drivers

Train drivers work for either:

  • KiwiRail, which runs freight and long distance passenger trains, owns TranzMetro and operates the Wellington urban rail network
  • Veolia, which runs the Auckland urban rail network.


  • Cheyne, J, human resources adviser, KiwiRail Freight, Careers New Zealand interview, April 2013.
  • Farrell, K, human resources adviser - passenger group, Kiwirail, Careers New Zealand interview, April 2013.
  • Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2003-2012 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2012.
  • Vickery, C, Westfield Rail Depot station manager, KiwiRail, Careers New Zealand interview, August 2009.

Current vacancies

Daytime Class 5 chemical driver (Immediate start!) Listed: 07 Jan 2015 Auckland

Other vacancy websites


Progression and specialisations

Train drivers usually specialise in either inter-city freight and passenger trains, or urban passenger trains. However, many of the skills needed are the same.

Experienced train drivers may move into trainer positions. They may also progress to become train controllers or station managers.

How many people are doing this job?

Year 2012
Year 2011
Year 2010
Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2003-2012 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2012.

Jim Featherstone climbing down from a locomotive

KiwiRail is the biggest employer of train drivers in the country

A view out of the front window of a locomotive as it approaches a tunnel

Increasing use of commuter trains has seen demand for train drivers grow

Updated 6 May 2013