Train driver

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Rebecca, 28

What does a train driver do?

This seems like a fairly obvious question to Rebecca, who gives me an odd look and replies "I drive a train". But besides driving a train, Rebecca is also a wife and soon-to-be-mother who enjoys the fact that she doesn't need to bring work home.

How do you become a train driver?

Prior to becoming a train driver, Rebecca worked in accounts, first with Ansett and later with Connex. She was looking for a change, and as she had heard great things about being a train driver through working for Connex, she decided to investigate the possibilities. Jobs as train drivers are often advertised through The Age newspaper, however there may be an age criteria give the responsibility the job entails. You can have hundreds of passengers on board your train at one time, so the selection process is quite rigorous.

Once her application process was accepted, Rebecca completed a course organized by Connex in Melbourne. The course was "very full-on but enjoyable" she says. It involves completing blocks (of anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks) of theory training and then blocks of practical training, where the theory is put into practice. The course is paid, and runs for 72 weeks.

What does a typical working day involve?

"There are 3 main components to my job", Rebecca explains. Before she can actually begin driving a train, Rebecca must prepare the train for service. This involves checking for faults or problems and cleanliness, and can take around an hour. When this is completed, she can put the train into service.

Each shift can be different, as the drivers are rostered on to do various routes, rather than always doing the same one. Shifts, which include preparation, can last up to 8½ hours including a break, which Rebecca describes as "really important" in order to stay focused and concentrate.

The last part of the job involves parking and storing the train ready for use, usually the following day.

What are some of the pros and cons of the job?

The pros and cons depend on the person. Rebecca considers shift work a pro because it means that her days are never dull and repetitive. However, she recognizes that some may see shift work as a con. A big pro for her is that she doesn't ever need to take work home. She can relax more because she doesn't have deadlines and work to prepare for the next day running through her head. She also earns around what she was earning working in accounts but she enjoys the job much more.

Train-driving is a male-dominated occupation, and people often look at her oddly when she tells them what she does. However, Rebecca has never had any problems working with so many men. As a female, you just have to "give back as good as you get," she says with a giggle.

Are there any tips for getting a job as a train driver?

Rebecca's advice is to:

  • Be prepared to study consistently
  • Remember that the job involves a lot of responsibility
  • For females, be aware that it is a male-dominated occupation

But despite this she says, "if you're really interested in doing this job then go for it, and don't let anyone put you off."

Find out more about this career path at myfuture.edu.au (new window) (Note: free registration is required to access the myfuture site).