Southeastern to recruit 600 staff this summer amid boost to Kent and Dreamland train services

A general view of Dreamland amusement park in Margate, Kent (Rob Stothard/Getty Images)
A general view of Dreamland amusement park in Margate, Kent (Rob Stothard/Getty Images)

One of London’s main commuter railways is looking to recruit 600 staff this summer alongside an increase in services.

Southeastern, which carries about half a million passengers a day, is launching a recruitment drive next month for an additional 150 trainee drivers, 100 station staff and 50 revenue protection officers.

This is on top of the 300 staff a year it normally recruits each year to replace departing employees and keep its total staffing at around 4,500 employees.

It comes as Department for Transport aims to reduce the minimum age to become a train driver from 20 to 18, potentially opening up job opportunities for school leavers from this summer.

The average age of a train driver is 48 and there are concerns of a shrinking workforce as drivers retire over the next five years.

Southeastern managing director Steve White said: “Southeastern is going to hire 600 people this year. That is a fabulous opportunity.

“We want to attract more women. We want to attract more people from black and ethnic minority communities. We want to attract people with neurodiversity. This is a brilliant opportunity to increase the diversity of our organisation at all levels.”

Trainee driver salaries at Southeastern start at around £24,000 and rise to £54,575, rising to £57,000 for its high-speed trains in and out of St Pancras.

Southeastern is also planning to increase services as part of a nationwide timetable change on June 2, and again in December.

This will include extra capacity on high-speed services to Kent seaside towns and a late-night returning service at the weekend from Margate for visitors to the town’s Dreamland amusement park.

Passengers should see more capacity and a “better spacing” of Southeastern and Thameslink trains on the Greenwich line, creating more of a “turn up and go” service.

There will also be a “better spread” of trains between Abbey Wood and Dartford, benefiting passengers also using the Elizabeth line.

Cannon Street to Gravesend trains will terminate at Dartford, with passengers requiring stations beyond Dartford having to wait for a connecting train from Victoria.

Further changes in December will add almost 200 more trains a week, including 12 “Sidcup rounders” each day – six in the morning and six in the evening on the loop route.

Network Rail’s closure of the 175-year-old Blackheath tunnel for 10 weeks for £10million of repairs will see Dartford to Cannon Street trains diverted via Greenwich from June 1 to August 11.