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.

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37 comments on “No, London Underground tube drivers are NOT earning £100,000
  1. Andrew Gwilt says:

    Suppose that means tube drivers could go on strike.

  2. Watcherzero says:

    Just to point out the average wage for a pilot at a budget airline is £60,000 barely above the tube driver starting wage, its the premier airlines where pilots earn £100k.

  3. Roger Gann says:

    And who was Mayor of London in 2014? Cripes! It was Boris.

  4. Momentous1 says:

    Worth pointing out that the £55k basic is for a short working week and 8 weeks annual leave.

    Most normal jobs allow just 4 weeks annual leave and require 40 hours per week, and no opportunity to earn overtime.

    If you equalise working hours and holidays, tube drivers are on nearer £70k basic.

    And guaranteed 3.1% more next year, and can retire at 50. On a final salary pension.

    In the real world, the rest of us lose pay when we can’t get to work because of their disruption.

    The sooner trains are automated, and the money saved can be invested in real workers salaries, like cleaners, nurses and teachers, the better.

    • Clive fitzgerald says:

      8 weeks leave ??
      Final salary pension at 50 ??
      Please check your facts as you are obviously clueless ??

    • ASLEF shrugged says:

      We work 36 hours over 5 days but only get paid for 35.

      We get 42 days annual leave; 28 days statutory leave, 8 days for bank holidays and 8 days for working the extra hour every week. One day is used for Christmas Day, the rest are split into four two-week blocks and one spare day.

      The only overtime we get is when we finish late due to a signal failure or whatever, we cannot work rest days or volunteer for extra work before or after our shift.

      We aren’t guaranteed anything next year as 2018 was the last year of the four year pay deal so our union reps will start negotiations in the New Year.

    • Andy Ross says:

      ‘The sooner trains are automated, and the money saved can be invested in real workers salaries, like cleaners, nurses and teachers, the better’

      Ah…..London Underground no longer gets a grant from the Govt. and certainly doesn’t pay the wages of cleaners, nurses or teachers.
      They pay the wages of their staff. No one else.

      You also appear to be clueless on how pension schemes work. retire at 50? Sure……that’ll cost you 25% of your pension thanks.

    • kitcub says:

      Momentous1 if you think this will actually happen, you need sectioning.

    • Clare says:

      In this real world you could apply to be a night tube driver…work every weekend for 18mths then become a full time tube driver?
      Stop moaning about it and join the company and see how easy it is😉

    • JS says:

      Or, dare I say, We urge all workers to fight for decent pay. Somehow so many have been convinced that low pay is ok and the working class that have good pay must have it taken away. Ignorance is the problem. We are all real workers. You need to direct your anger at directors and corporations that work to drive wages and conditions into the ground.

      Your ignorance is significant but sadly common.

    • Doggle 1973 says:

      Why are all the haters so blind to what right wing papers and politicians are doing. Tube drivers are on a living wage because of strong union it’s every other profession that’s lagging behind on below par wages. Instead of doing the right wings bidding and attaching this profession people should be asking why they aren’t on a decent living wage !!!!

  5. Dar Kap says:

    I wouldn’t blame the strikers, but politicoidiots that allow the strikes on such ridiculous grounds as being opposed to the sacking of a driver who failed repeats drug tests.

    And of course, i look forward to automation and this increasingly redundant train-driving (or, more acuratelly, door open/closing) lot being let go. They won’t be missed.

    • Andy Ross says:

      Yet again, commenting without knowing the facts. If only it was as simple as a driver failing a drugs test, but it’s not. Without going into details of the case, all I will say is it’s not as black & white as the press makes out. Let’s just say a number of people have been sacked over the years for failing drug tests, without strike action being taken. This is not an open & shut case, and that’s all I’ll say on the matter.

      You will miss drivers as soon as one of the computerised trains which you seem to favour breaks down in the tunnel, or a serious incident occurs and there’s a long long wait for staff.

      If only it was so straightforward

    • Ray says:

      So when then a day comes when a train carriage is filling with smoke and the lights have gone off because the power has been cut and all there is for the 1,000 passengers on board is a computer that can open and close doors. Good luck with that one mate.

  6. Bill Holtby says:

    All those complaining are missing one crucial point. High wages are frequently the result of unionisation. If you want to be paid fairly, join a union. Despite the onerous legal restrictions on union activity, it’s still worth exploring that as an option in this low-waged economy.

  7. Christopher says:

    So, the moral of this story is to join a Union and have them fight for better pay and conditions for you.

  8. Greg Tingey says:

    The reason for tube ( & other ) drivers’ wages being “high” is for when something goes wrong. ASSUMING everything works as it’s supposed to, then driving a modern train is really easy … but ….
    You’ve got an idiot passenger stuck in a door, or a wandering small child near a platform-edge, or a signal or power failure, Or violent/drunk passengers, etc ….
    OK, eventually, someone else will probably come along to help, but in the meantime, you, the driver are the only person on the spot & have to do your well-trained best to sort it out, safely.
    That’s where all the training & expense goes.
    Remember 7/7 ?

    • Robert Woolley says:

      Greg – the reason why wages are high is that there high barriers to entry (long training period), and strong unions.

      The training period means it’s hard to replace people so ASLEF and RMT are in a strong position.

      You have other jobs which are more difficult but are paid a lot less partially because there are lower barriers to entry and partially because unionisation doesn’t work for them

  9. Harold. S. Pearson says:

    Sir
    For those who feel train drivers are overpaid perhaps they should have a go at footballers, so called celebs, and others who get outrageous salaries for doing very little that’s useful.

  10. ChayD says:

    I can’t think of a more boring job. You’d have to pay me at least 55k to sit staring at either rows of passengers or dark tunnel walls all day (sometimes in sweltering heat), Due to the need to be vigilant at all times one couldn’t even “zone out” like you could in any other dull job.

    • ASLEF shrugged says:

      Only about a third of the Tube is in tunnels, we get to look at trees and houses too, the same trees and houses over and over again…

  11. D-Dub says:

    At the end of the day, people earning close to £100k are probably also working more overtime and rest day working.

    The Press fails to realise that if we did not have any overtime-hoovering staff on the railway then we would not be able to repair the tracks or driver the timetabled trains.

    • ASLEF shrugged says:

      Tube drivers can’t do voluntary overtime or rest day working, we only get overtime if we’re late finishing due to signal failure, etc.

  12. M. Morais says:

    I’m a senior nurse with more than 20 years experience, working in an Intensive Care Unit, with extremely sick patients struggling between life and death, with dozens of different machines and equipment, also accountable for a team of nurses. I provide education regarding safety and infection control, which means that you are responsible for others level of competence. I work 37.5 hours a week, weekends and Bank Holidays. I have 35 days annual leave. My salary doesn’t reach the 50K/year.
    Please have some respect and don’t demagogue when talking about responsabilities vs payrates.
    Have a nice day and stay healthy.

    • Ricky says:

      You should be paid more.

    • Darren W says:

      Everyone agrees that emergency service staff should be on much higher wages. You have my upmost gratitude for what people like you do.
      The problem isn’t the tube drivers who, by the way, earn a lot less than most drivers on national rail operating companies, but with the failings of successive governments to increase the wages of people like you to an acceptable level. Please see these articulates for what they are a consertive effort to turn people against unions. Decide and rule on a national scale to hide the inefficiency of government t

    • Sally Herbert says:

      All essential services should be paid more, that goes without saying. We would all be in a terrible state if nurses didn’t do what they do. You honestly can’t tell me that anyone goes into nursing for the great salary it pays, can you? The jobs are entirely different in every way and people should stop blaming tube drivers for the governments failings!
      If all those that whinge and moan about drivers did something about it, like join a decent union or apply to be a tube driver instead of just being full of hatred, it may be better for you all.

  13. Rudee Brunel says:

    The article did specify how few people were on wages of 100k+. It also detailed how many were on lower bands of pay, none of which dipped lower than 60k.
    It is hard to empathise with anyone who works less than 40 hours a week that is on a wage that is so much higher than the government average let alone the government minimum when the strikes directly impact the infrastructure of the countries capital in the way they do.

  14. ASLEF shrugged says:

    Tube drivers are on £55,011, if they hold an instructors licence they’re on £57,376, the Times has boosted that to over £60k by adding in TfL’s pension contributions.

    Every time we go on strike we lose a days pay, we’d rather not go on strike but management keep ignoring agreements or breaking their own rules leaving us little option.

    • Smithy la says:

      What about the driver that failed the drugs test multiple times?

    • ASLEF shrugged says:

      “Multiple times”? The procedure is a second test is carried out immediately after a positive result, the driver then requested a third test because he couldn’t believe he’d produced two positives.

  15. Ricky says:

    It astonishes time and time again, when I read these forums, the common theme is train drivers are paid too much and they should be in bought in line with nurses, policemen, fire services etc…
    Anyone who can’t see that a politicians tactic is to keep your eyes of them and look at someone else with less favourable conditions than themselves has unfortunately fallen for the bait.
    Yes tube drivers are paid well, yes they can probably take thier families on holiday, yes they may be able to afford a nice car, yes they may be able to acquire a mortgage.
    Shouldn’t a nurse be able to do the same, shouldn’t our fire services be able to do the same, shouldn’t our police officers and indeed all workers be able to afford the luxuries that our politicians and senior managers enjoy?
    Let’s be honest here guys train drivers are envied because they have protected thier terms and conditions and done it very well, they are envied because they enjoy the perks that government and senior mamagement in business have taken away from the rest of us and managed to keep themselves.
    Stop hating the train drivers and start fighting for better conditions for the rest of us.

    • Alex says:

      People are incapable of fighting for good things. It’s much easier for them to moan at those who have it already. And people boast about how good they are (as a society) at complaining…

  16. Damon says:

    Lowering the wage of Tube drivers won’t put more money in the pockets of our Military, Nurses, Firefighters, Police Officers or Teachers.
    The News Papers and Government always attack those on a decent wage rather than dealing with the ridiculously low wages of our Emergency Services. They are quick to thank them when it pleases but quicker to forget them when it’s time to talk money or terms and conditions. As an ex Soldier of 10 years (£17,000 a year) and ex Whole time Firefighter of 13.5 years (£29,500 a year), Government cuts and changes to pensions forced my hand into changing careers in 2015 and I’m now a Tube driver earning £55,011 a year.
    This isn’t a case of your jobs more important than mine or vise versa, it is simply the case that our Government just undervalues what you do for a living, the sacrifices you make and the fact that you put your life in harms way on a daily basis. Don’t do this Governments job for them by knocking what others earn, fight for what you deserve as no one else will.

  17. M. Morais says:

    I live well with other’s fortune and definitely don’t think that if I’m poorly paid as a senior nurse, so others should have the same medicine. The problem is not unions, or their power. The problem is accountability. Tube drivers go for strike, the underground stops and do they care about the impact in people’s lifes? They are defending their cause.
    Can nurses go for strike and abandon hospitals? No, they’ll be accountable for people’s deaths and harm. The first ones can strike. Health care workers strikes are pure joke. That doesn’t exist. All essential care will be provided as in any other day. What kind of negotiation is possible in those terms?

  18. Kris says:

    You need to all come together and think of a way your voice can be heard.

    You have a very important job, I can imagine that with the strain the NHS is under there must be overtime a plenty flying around, all the nurses need to band together and agree to not cover it.

    As militant as it may seem, the powers that be will soon listen. Fighting for yourselves isn’t easy, and the amount of times I have seen a tube drivers wage compared to a nurse is ridiculous.

    Stop feeling sorry for yourselves and stand tall shoulders back and take matters into your own hands.

    I don’t think nurse’s realise just how much power they have.

  19. No-one has mentioned the free travel perk. Employee and one nominated family member I think. That’s an extra £5000 household income pa surely.

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