In Brief

Virgin Trains receives 15,000 applications for 78 jobs

Successful candidates will net a salary of £57,000 a year, say industry insiders

Virgin Azuma train

"Spare a thought for the Virgin Trains talent team," says City AM. These are the people who have to sift through 15,000 applications for 78 train drivers' jobs "after the closing date (mercifully) arrived last Friday".

Virgin are searching for staff to drive its 65 new Azuma trains, made by Japanese supplier Hitachi, on the East Coast main line, which stretches from London to Edinburgh. 

The Guardian says the trains will add "an extra 12,200 seats for an expanded timetable", increasing capacity into King's Cross "by 28 per cent during peak time".

They'll go into service at the beginning of 2018, while the new recruits will start a one-year training programme in January 2017. They "will take part in a mix of classroom-based and on-the-job learning at different locations on the east coast route", says the paper.

However, the drivers will first have to beat off competition from 199 rivals. The application process begins with written submissions, with selected candidates facing a "selection day, which will include a variety of assessments and exercises".

Applicants had to be over 21 and "living, or willing to relocate to, within an hour's travel from the five depots – Edinburgh, Newcastle, Leeds, Doncaster or London King's Cross", says the Guardian.

It is highly likely that the huge demand for roles is related to the salaries on offer: industry sources told the paper the successful applicants can "expect to earn around £57,000 once qualified". That's more than double the average annual UK wage, which the Office for National Statistics estimated last year at £26,700.

This is not the first time a train company has seen massive demand for train driver vacancies. Last year, 23,000 people applied for 100 vacancies at ScotRail, each paying £43,000.

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