810 - Doğu Ekspresi - Onur

In which countries driver only operation is allowed?

Trains with single driver is not only discussed in Turkey, but whole around the world.

As security, tracking and controlling systems develop, both passenger and freight trains have fewer crew.

There’s a trend toward driverless trains in the world. In many contries, one loco driver, one conductor checking more than one train and dispatchers only in some stations have become a standard.

Some countries shifted to driver only operation (DOO) completely, some partially. In some others, having two loco drivers in a train is still a must.

In Turkey, one-man freight trains are now under discussion, since private operators start in freight.

Here are the status all around the world:


Canada is famous with 2-3 km long trains. DOO can only be allowed after a detailed examination by railway authority. Currently 2 operators are allowed. Recently a DOO train was derailed causing discussions about DOO. DOO is not allowed for trains carrying dangerous goods any more


In US, freight trains have one engineer and one conductor. However conductor is not a “must”. If an operator can meet all the conditions published by railway authority, DOO is accepted. But conditions are very hard to meet, thus trains with single driver are not very common. Railway authority prepared a legislation prohibiting DOO, but that is not accepted yet.


DOO had started 20 years ago for freight trains in Australia and is very common. ATP (automatic brake system when train is over speed limit) is prerequisite and there are some limitations about working time of single driver. There have been trials of unmanned freight trains since 2017.

Cover Photo: Onur Uysal ©

Written by Onur Uysal

Railway consultant. Owner of RT Media & Consultancy. Founder and editor of Rail Turkey.

One comment

  1. In Japan, All Freight trains are operated by one-man driver since about 20 years ago.
    Feel free to ask and contact us about efficiency train-operation.

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