My Career

I commenced my working life in 1960 at the age of 14 years and 1 month, in the position of Junior Storeman at Spotswood General Storehouse with the then Victorian Railways. Over the next 3 years I transferred into the positions of Junior Station Assistant (Yarraville & Seddon) and Number Taker in the Melbourne Yard. Since about the age of 4 I had always wanted to be a Locomotive Driver. I am sure that this was due to having lived opposite the railway line at Seddon. In late 1963 I moved to New South Wales to try and get a job on the 'footplate' but was told I was still too young. In February 1964 I commenced duty as a Trainee Engineman with the NSWGR at Enfield. My diary shows as part of my 'A' trials going to Rozelle on 5457 on 974 Goods. I was to later qualify in all steam except 38 & 60 class. In June 1964 I transferred to Valley Heights. I did get the occasional firing job on a 46 class to Katoomba, but mainly doing Call Boy duties and polish and wax locos each day. I worked at Valley Heights with Dick Holdsworth, who many years later was to qualify me as a Victorian XPT Driver. In November 1964 I transferred to Albury and gained my Fireman qualification (who could know that I would again travel over the track between Albury & Junee at 160 km/h as an XPT Driver many years later). At this time it was taking NSW Fireman approx. 12 - 14 years to become a Driver, while in Victoria it was 7 - 8 years. I made a decision to return home, and on September 20, 1965 I commenced what was to become a 37 year and ONE week association with the railway system of Victoria. I was to spend the next 5 years at South Dynon before transferring to Murtoa in western Victoria. On 30 October 1972, I boarded No. 24 Up Pass for Ararat to undergo my examination for the position of Locomotive Driver - An ambition was finally realised when Examining Officer, Alf Johns, shook my hand and told me I had passed. I was fortunate while at Murtoa to run over a number of lines now closed, including the Marnoo & Goroke tracks. In January 1973 I transferred to the Electric Running Depot, Jolimont, for a 14 month association with the 'Sparks'. In early 1974, and not being able to 'boil the billy' when I wanted to, and getting tied of talking to myself, I decided that the diesels were for me and I went back to South Dynon. Little did anyone realise that Drivers on diesels would be talking to themselves when 'Driver Only' operations were introduced years later. In 1982 I was accepted for the position of Instructor Driver. Over the time in this position I was engaged in Classroom & On-Engine instructions, instructing 'new starts' as well as Drivers in the Signal Class. In November 1987, I was seconded, along with Driver Steve Deveson, to Transport House to compile an Interim Trainee Driver course, this was to last 9 months. In July 1988, with Train Order Working on the horizon, I was seconded to the Working Party for this new type of Victorian Safeworking system, and ran the first class (of 32) for South Dynon personnel. In January 1990 I conducted the first '2 Man Crewing' class not carried out by a Guard's Instructor, which had previously been the case. In October 1990 I returned back to the position of Locomotive Driver, taking up a position on 'A' roster (The Big Wheel) at South Dynon. I was in one of the first instruction classes for Drivers in XPT operation when this commenced running within Victoria. In 1999, with our purchase of a house at Heathcote, I was lucky enough to secure a vacant Driver position at Seymour. With an injury to my right shoulder in Feb. 2000, my days on the footplate became numbered. Returning to work after 10 weeks off, the injury was again aggravated and by December 2000 I was again off the 'footplate'. This became permanent, with returns to work on numerous occasions, but always in a restricted capacity of doing 'gofer' jobs at Seymour station. On 27 September 2002 it all came to an end - 37 years of memories, but what memories they are. The people I have worked with and instructed have truly been great, from the Drivers I had as a Fireman, who willingly passed on their skills, to the Fireman I had, whom I did the same thing for, and went on to become skilled professionals in their own right, in an occupation that has no equal. I have had the pleasure of doing final trips with 2 Drivers on their retirement, but sadly no-one rode with me. There have been many highlights, but I would say the biggest was departing Albury for Junee on the XPT for my first time (we had been running the XPT to Albury for sometime). Like all things, trains will still run and Drivers will still sign-on at all hours of the day & night. There has been many changes, some good, some not so good for Engineman, but the mateship, hopefully, will always remain.