Meet Sam, London Overground train driver

Woman standing alongside London Overground train

Find out what it’s like to drive a train and the interesting things drivers have to think about to keep you safe.

Q&A with Sam

What’s your role and how did you start the job?

I’m Samantha a 42-year-old mum of two. I’ve driven London Overground trains since 2018 when I joined as a trainee driver.

I was originally a driver on the North London line and now I’m on the West Anglia routes, so I drive between London Liverpool Street, Chingford, Cheshunt and Enfield. I’m also a Health and Safety rep for my depot in Chingford.

Woman train driver walking alongside London Overground train

What’s the best part of being a train driver?

That’s difficult to pin down! I have great colleagues, it makes all the difference in a job I think. Not just at my depot but across our network everyone is really friendly, so the people are a huge plus. The staff room is always a good place to be.

I also enjoy seeing the changing of the seasons. From watching the little fox cubs coming out in the spring and growing as I travel by, to driving in the snow (it’s strangely a very peaceful experience). You get to see it all! ☃️🌤🌞

Train driver standing smiling in cabin

What is the most challenging part of being a train driver?

Safety is always paramount in our role as a train driver. We have to ensure that we drive in the safest way and that every departure is as it should be. I think we have more of a head-down society nowadays, so people are often not looking at what they are doing or are messaging on their phone. I have to be even more aware of passengers on platforms than you might expect, both when I pull in but even more so when I leave. 💨

First, I make sure the gap between the platform edge and the yellow line is clear. Then I start the departure process which sounds the door closing alarms and closes the doors. However, people sometimes make a last-minute dash for the doors or try to hold them open for others, which comes with big risks like people getting hands or belongings trapped. 🤚🏽 ✊🏽 ⚠️

Everyone wants to reach their train on time and get home, but sometimes it’s safer to wait for the next train. The train doors may not automatically reopen if smaller items such as bag straps or umbrellas obstruct them, so us train drivers have to be extra vigilant for that. We are trained to deal with all situations, but you can never know what a person will do. I have to check and recheck the platform area alongside the train with my screen images. This pressure on me increases with the risk from ‘runners’, so I think for me the hardest part of the job is this.

Train driver using screen

Do you have any secret tips from your travels?

Secret tips…

Train drivers can close the doors up to 30 seconds before departure time, so to not get caught out, get on board in plenty of time! Little things can get trapped in our doors so really try to keep things away from the closing doors once the door closing alarm sounds as the train driver cannot stop the process!

Finally, Liverpool Street station has a rooftop garden next door (135 Bishopsgate) that you can visit! Not many people know it’s there. 🤗

Train driver's fingers pressing door release buttons

How will you prep for your next train driver shift?

Prep for work, that’s easy. I make sure my bag is prepared with all that I need which is surprisingly a lot. Being a train driver is quite a different role to what people think it is!

I also make sure I have my rest. To unwind I generally walk my dogs, essentially, preparation and rest are key. It’s really important in this job to manage your lifestyle, we run passenger services for 20 hours every day, so life runs around the railway.

Train driver entering cabin

Watch Sam on TikTok

@tfl

Sam’s job looks so interesting. Thanks for telling us about it. 🤓 Who knew there was so much involved in driving a train?! Did you know train doors don’t automatically reopen if someone sticks something small in them? The doors may close up to 30 seconds before departure so spare a bit of time and don’t rush. ✌🏻 #learnontiktok #traindriver #behindthescenes #bts #londontravel #railtravel #commuter #londonlife #londonoverground #london #tfl #transportforlondon

♬ nico – GHSTFKR & Slip.stream

Plus, if you prefer, Sam’s interview video is also on Instagram Reels.

@tfl

We like what Sam has to say 😜 Share this with a mate. Getting the train to do list: ✅ Keep things clear of closing doors. My oh my, don’t be that guy 🤦🏼‍♀️ ✅ Get on in plenty of time. Early bird catches the worm and all that! 👌🏼 ✅ Wait for the next train if the door alarm sounds. The sound is there for a reason 🥺 #traveltok #travelinlondon #gettingatrain #traininlondon #railinlondon #commuter #londonoverground #london #tfl #transportforlondon

♬ original sound – Jericho Johnson

Plus, if you prefer, Sam’s to-do video is also on Instagram Reels.

Plan your next trip

📱 Download our free app TfL Go, check next train times so you don’t need to rush

🤩 Browse our Experience London blog, get inspiration for things to do

Share your thoughts