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Helen Maclean, Eurostar driver
Andy Parsons

Things you only know if you’re a Eurostar driver

Danielle Goldstein

…according to Helen Maclean, 30.

It takes at least half a decade to become a Eurostar train driver

‘The absolute minimum is five-and-a-half years, and that’s if everything went in your favour: if you completed three years of high-speed driving then went straight in and didn’t have to wait for recruitment. Eurostar only takes on highly qualified drivers.’ 

All Eurostar drivers are bilingual

‘When a driver comes to Eurostar with no French experience, they do nine months of French before anything else. The French drivers do the same in English. You spend three months just doing the technical terms, going through all the emergency scenarios – stuff that you hope you’ll never have to do in any language, but you have to know it.’

Working cross-Channel has its perks

‘We get a certain number of free trips every year which you can either use yourself or give to friends and family. The longer you’re here, the more it goes up. It’s a really generous package.’

Drivers used to lug suitcases full of manuals everywhere

‘We have to have our rule books and track diagrams with us at all times on the train, so drivers used to carry a suitcase just for rule books. Now we get iPads, which has really helped.’

St Pancras can be a confusing place

‘Once, when I was on the information desk in the departure lounge, an American passenger came up and asked when the train would arrive and why it was taking so long. They’d actually missed their train but were absolutely convinced that they were on board! It was quite bizarre.’

Eurostar driver recruitment is open until Aug 31 at

Now discover the things you only know if you’re a hotel concierge.

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