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Teenagers will soon be able to qualify as train drivers in effort to ease ­staffing shortages

TEENAGERS will be able to qualify as train drivers under plans to ease a ­staffing shortage.

The Department for Transport (DfT) aims to cut the minimum age from 20 to 18 by introducing an apprenticeship for school leavers.

Teenagers will soon be able to qualify as train drivers in an effort to ease ­staffing shortages

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Teenagers will soon be able to qualify as train drivers in an effort to ease ­staffing shortages

It says the average age is 48 and, with the workforce projected to shrink as staff retire, it wants to “build resilience” into the system.

The DfT is seeking views on how processes to select, train, monitor and supervise drivers can be adapted to support the age reduction.

The Rail Delivery Group, which represents operators, says training takes up to two years.

The average UK salary is £60,055, and it is hoped more young drivers would limit disruption as currently firms rely on staff working overtime and on rest days to run services.

Rail minister Huw Merriman said: “By boosting age diversity and attracting more drivers, we can help support reliable services while creating opportunities for more young people.”

Aslef union chief Mick Whelan said: “We believe there should be enough drivers to cover all available shifts and do not agree with the reliance on rest day working and overtime.

“We’ve always argued that lowering the age drivers can begin their training will help the industry

“Those at the pointy end of the train should reflect the communities they serve and that includes having young people in cabs.”

Andy Bagnall of Rail Partners, which represents private sector rail groups, said: “With driver shortages and an ageing workforce it’s critical to secure the skills we need for the long-term.”

The RDG said: “Working as a driver is an incredible career opportunity.”

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