Last week, tens of thousands of rail workers in the United Kingdom went on strike to demand better pay and working conditions. For those who were hoping to travel before Christmas, this has caused chaos. Through January 2023, train strikes will continue.

Discussions about the wages of rail workers, including train drivers, have arisen as a result of industrial actions. So, which European nations pay train drivers the most and least? Additionally, how have rail worker salaries in the UK changed?

The EU’s statistical office, Eurostat, provides insight. It gives an overview of wages in the railway industry using data from 2021 and is based on estimates from the EU Structure of Earnings Survey (SES).

Train drivers’ estimated monthly gross wages in 2021 ranged from €5,542 in the UK to €632 in Bulgaria. Denmark was the only EU member state where train drivers earned more than €4,000 (€4,463).

In 16 EU Part States, train drivers got a normal gross month-to-month profit of under €2,000 in 2021. Romania (€901) and Hungary (€922) had the lowest salaries, followed by Bulgaria.

When living expenses are taken into account, how do train driver salaries compare?

Eurostat defines the Purchasing Power Standard (PPS) as “an artificial currency unit” based on price level differences between nations.

A closer look at the wages of UK train drivers With the ONS’s more comprehensive dataset, it is possible to examine the wages of UK train drivers and other rail workers more closely. The data also show how salaries for rail workers have changed over the past ten years.

In the UK, train and tram driver compensation was £59,031 (€68,673) in 2021, up from £42,484 (€48,951) in 2011.

The median gross annual Salary for train drivers of employees working in rail transportation rose by 38% from £34,816 (€40,116) in 2011 to £47,993 (€55,832) in 2021.

When compared to drivers, the shift in rail travel assistants’ and rail construction and maintenance workers’ median gross annual pay from 2011 to 2021 was significantly smaller. Rail travel assistants now earn £33,203 (€38,626), up from £29,914 (€34,468). All in all, it just expanded by 11% ostensibly.

In a similar vein, rail construction and maintenance workers’ compensation only increased by 14%. Their median Salary for train drivers in 2021 was £34,953 (€40,622).

How do the wages of train drivers in the UK compare to those of nurses?

On 11 July 2022, Award Shapps, who was then filling in as Secretary of State for Transport, tweeted, “Associations connected to Work have reported train driver strikes. It is unfair that train drivers, who make nearly £60,000 per year, harm those who make less money by going on more walkouts.

Shapps stated on June 15, 2018, in Parliament, ” A train driver earns $59,000 on average, while a nurse earns £31,000 and a care worker earns £21,000.

In 2021, the middle gross yearly compensation for expert medical caretakers was £33,946 (€39,490) and that of attendant professionals was £36,818 (€42,832) as per the ONS.

Gender pay disparities among train drivers The figures also show that there are pay disparities among train drivers based on gender. In most countries, men earn more than women do.

Based on 40 hours of full-time work per week under an indefinite contract for 35-year-old male employees with lower-level tertiary education (bachelor’s degree or higher vocational training), Eurostat estimates the average gross monthly earnings.

According to the ONS’s definition, the average pay for “train and tram drivers” is shown in the UK data.

Why are rail workers in the UK going on strike?

Workers at UK rail companies have made it clear that the strikes aren’t just about to pay. So far, pay offers have not kept up with inflation.

They are also protesting a number of Network Rail’s proposed changes, such as reducing maintenance, introducing driver-only services, closing booking offices, and mandating unsociable work hours.


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