Despite fevered headlines today, the average London Underground tube driver is not earning over £100,000 per year.
The Sunday Times excitedly reported that London’s tube drivers now earn more than an aircraft pilot. However, the figure that newspapers are reporting applies to just a handful of specialists, who are test drivers and instructors.
They are as far from being an ordinary tube train driver as an aircraft test pilot is from the person flying an Easyjet plane.
Of the nearly 4,000 tube drivers on the payroll, just nine were paid over £100,000 in the past year.
Just nine people out of 4,000 drivers in total — and the nine are doing more specialised work than the average tube driver.
So how much does the average tube driver earn?
The base salary for a tube driver is £55,011 plus benefits.
While tube driver salaries are indeed generous, they’re not much more than could be earned driving trains on the national rail network either. For example, GWR pays experienced train drivers around £51,000, plus benefits and overtime on top.
The majority of London Underground train drivers, approximately 3,000 of them, made £70,000-£80,000 last year when overtime and benefits is included.
In a statement, TfL said: “The average base pay of a Tube driver is £55,011. The overwhelming majority earned total remuneration – including base pay, overtime, employer pension contributions and certain allowances – of £70,000 or considerably less.”
“Just over three per cent of drivers earned total remuneration over this, largely because they are highly skilled test drivers and instructors who have additional responsibilities to train drivers in the safe operation of trains using new, advanced signalling systems.”
Some 900 other drivers earned less, due to being part-time or leaving London Underground during the year and skewing the annual average. Night tube drivers are also usually part time and have a base salary of £24,214.
The salary terms were agreed back in 2014.
If you’re wondering if we could get rid of tube train drivers, then read this article.