New train drivers?

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Mickey
LNER A3 4-6-2
Posts: 1235
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2019 7:27 am
Location: London

New train drivers?

Post by Mickey »

It was reported on BBC radio last week that currently the age to become a train driver on the national railways is going to be lowered from the current age of 20 down to 18 years of age. Obviously times and working practices change down the years but when I was a secondman at Kings Cross between the ages of 17-18 between 1974-75 from memory at that time a secondman had to do at the very least 2-years as a secondman on the loco first before the applicant was considered for going up for driver training. From memory and at a guess I would say most of the secondmen at Kings Cross during the 1974-75 period when I was at Kings Cross were aged anywhere between about 17 and 18 through into their early 20s and I am guessing that most of those blokes normally did around 4 or 5 years as a secondmen on the loco first before 'going up for driver' training on British Rail at that time.

Back in the 'steam days' it was even longer a cleaner starting on the railway at a loco shed possibly took about 40-45 years before they made it into the 'top drivers link' and driving main line expresses.
Original start date of 2010 on the LNER forum and previously posted 4500+ posts.
Hatfield Shed
LNER A4 4-6-2 'Streak'
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Re: New train drivers?

Post by Hatfield Shed »

Totally different job now as you recognise, the equipment is effectively a 'black box' that works predictably in response to input. If it fails in service, the driver can only 'phone it in'; there's not the equipment and skills to enable anything useful to be done out on the line.

That's what so much of the experience previously acquired in the 'time served' practise was about; dealing with traction and rolling stock problems as they arose, to keep the service running at least as far as a shed with mechanical fitters, tools and spares available.
Mickey
LNER A3 4-6-2
Posts: 1235
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2019 7:27 am
Location: London

Re: New train drivers?

Post by Mickey »

Yes you are right Hatfield Shed about the 'time served' principle in relation to the loco crews and probably railway staff in general on the railways going back into the B.R. era and earlier the BIG FOUR and even further back to the pre-grouping era on the railways. With regards to drivers in particular I believe nowadays and possibly since the mid/late 1980s after secondmen (or drivers assistants were abolished) and continuing onwards into this century a new applicant that has applied for a driving job and who may not have any background or knowledge about railways is recruited 'off the street' and after being accepted I believe goes through an 'intensive driving course' of possibly 6-months before they go out driving on their own. I did once remark to someone that a new driver goes through a 'crash course' in driving which amused the other person before I realised what I had said and then said I didn't mean a 'crash course' literally!. Ha ha
Original start date of 2010 on the LNER forum and previously posted 4500+ posts.
Mickey
LNER A3 4-6-2
Posts: 1235
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2019 7:27 am
Location: London

Re: New train drivers?

Post by Mickey »

With regards to learning on the job

I recall an episode that made it into the newspapers about a young secondman on the Southern Region of British Rail back in the late 1980s who claimed that he use to 'drive trains' on the main line out of Waterloo (maybe someone had heard about this and had tipped the press off?) which caused a bit of an 'up roar' in the press for several days which prompted British Rail and possibly ASLEF the train drivers union to comment to reject the claim. I suspect what probably happened was the young man involved probably did drive the loco/train after the driver let him have a drive which wasn't that unusual back in the day although the driver would still be in the driving cab sitting opposite him in the secondmans seat and keeping a watchful eye on him and on the road ahead because this was away of 'learning practical experience on the job' in days gone past on the railways.
Original start date of 2010 on the LNER forum and previously posted 4500+ posts.
Mickey
LNER A3 4-6-2
Posts: 1235
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2019 7:27 am
Location: London

Re: New train drivers?

Post by Mickey »

Being a secondman at Kings Cross during the first half of the 1970s was a great time to be on the loco but I wouldn't fancy starting as a new driver nowadays because the job and the railways in general have changed beyond all recognition but that is just a personal opinion.
Original start date of 2010 on the LNER forum and previously posted 4500+ posts.
Mickey
LNER A3 4-6-2
Posts: 1235
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2019 7:27 am
Location: London

Re: New train drivers?

Post by Mickey »

I was on the London Underground yesterday Saturday and waiting on a station platform for a train when a woman who I guessed was in her early to mid 30s came walking along the station platform wearing what looked like a union banner on the front of her sweat shirt with the capital letters A.S.L.E.F. printed on the front of the sweat shirt so as she was about to walk passed me I said to her that I was in the ASLEF union back in the 1970s when I was at Kings Cross loco on the footplate and she said "Thank you. So you was in our union at onetime" and I said "Yeah, along time ago now" and she said thanks again as she carried on walking on passed me.

I presume that she either was a train driver or maybe she worked for the ASLEF union in some capacity or other?.
Original start date of 2010 on the LNER forum and previously posted 4500+ posts.
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