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The drivers of tomorrow

Discussion in 'Steam Traction' started by 240P15, Jul 13, 2018.

  1. 240P15

    240P15 Member

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    Hi there:)

    After watching several photos and videos of steam locomotives in Britain over some years, it`s one thing that strikes me. It seems to bee a clear majority of older drivers whilst the firemen often can be a younger lad. This is of course not always representative, and, I guess many of the younger firemen (and women) later will qualify as a driver.
    But ,to mee it could seem that some of the drivers of the older school almost refuse the younger generation to 'take the controls of the engine' , and get a chance?
    Drivers that doesn`t believe the younger generation and have no interest in sharing their skills in operating an engine. In other words, not contribute to shape the drivers of tomorrow? This is just pure speculation from my side, and hopefully not to be accurate.

    Well, I guess this was a real bombshell so you most excuse me.

    regards,
    Knut :)
     
  2. lostlogin

    lostlogin Member

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    I suppose it depends on the railway but I see plenty of younger drivers on the welsh narrow gauge although that may just be a case of "policeman always looking younger". I keep my grades cards up and if I am on the footplate the driver is often younger than me and frequently somebody I trained to fire. Partly that is because they may be down to time on the footplate, but I also I discovered at a fairly young age I don't really enjoy driving. I much more enjoy firing so invariably politely declined the opportunity to take over the regulator.
     
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  3. Wenlock

    Wenlock Active Member Friend

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    Given that it obviously takes a while to learn to be a confident and competent firman, I am not surprised that few are ready to progress towards driving until they are in their twenties. Some are quite content to remain as firemen anyway. I have however seen a few drivers in their mid twenties.
    My driving days are over, but I was driving as a "passed fireman" by the time I was 25, although I wasn't appointed to the driving grade until I was 30. I wouldn't consider that to be very old.
     
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  4. estwdjhn

    estwdjhn New Member

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    I had a footplate run on the Rhydol last year with the UK's youngest driver - earlier that week he had passed out, iirc on his 21st Birthday. He was a very nice (and competent) young man.

    More generally, my thoughts are that:
    It was ever thus, not least because firing can be quite physically demanding and driving isn't particularly so(especially if the driver can talk the fireman into the nastier bits of oiling round).

    Most of the better heritage lines actually job share anyway - so a loco will go off shed with a Driver, Fireman and Cleaner, but it wouldn't be particularly unusual at some point during the day to see the Cleaner driving, the Driver firing, and the Fireman perched on the bunker watching the world go by. The driver is still in charge (and will have to explain himself if the cleaner SPADs, so is probably pretty aware of where he is on a route), but that doesn't mean he's got to always have his hand on the regulator. (I'm guessing this approach is less likely on a Double Fairlie!).

    This generally means that there isn't a burning urgency in firemen to wanting to be made up to drivers - if you get to drive about half the time anyway, it makes little practical difference (just more responsibility).

    I know plenty of folks driving in their early 30s, so certainly on the railways I frequent, I don't think the oldies are keeping the young back.
     
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  5. 240P15

    240P15 Member

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    Thank you so much for all your responses!:) Very much interesting reading.

    By the way, if you should work as a driver on steam trains running at the mainline ,and not a a heritage line , do you need a more specific approvement?

    Knut:)
     
  6. Romsey

    Romsey Well-Known Member

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    DB Cargo arrange steam driving and firing sessions for qualified drivers every few years.
    I'm not certain of the details of how the courses are organised.

    I have no idea whether WCRC/Saphos/DCR have specific diesel to steam conversion training.

    Cheers, Neil
     
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  7. 240P15

    240P15 Member

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    Thanks a lot Neil! :)
     
  8. 240P15

    240P15 Member

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    An old classic one very great to watch:)



    regards,
    Knut
     
  9. toplight

    toplight Active Member

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    Yeah interesting, not seen that one before. Here is another one also made by the LMS.
     
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  10. Johnb

    Johnb Resident of Nat Pres

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    I'm not sure it's straightforward on the mainline. I believe DBS train their regular drivers on steam if they volunteer for it and West Coast seem to employ many retired drivers from the mainline TOCs. I think they also pass out drivers for specific routes, I know of two regular drivers on the Jacobite who are passed to drive on the West Highland Line only. Many years ago it was felt that mainline running could not continue after the last ex BR steam men retired but here we are 50 years later and it's still going strong.
     
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  11. RalphW

    RalphW Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Administrator Friend

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    Specifically taking on the retired main line TOC drivers who are or might be interested in training on steam.
     
  12. Fred Kerr

    Fred Kerr Part of the furniture

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    WCRC does train steam drivers - and sometimes on the main line. The last occasion I recall was in November 2016 when 45699 Galatea was operated on the test circuit for a week specifically for driver training.

    28_45699-201611.jpg
     
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  13. 26D_M

    26D_M Part of the furniture

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    Wasn't that training under contract for some Irish Railway staff? IIRC NYMR was also used for some of the process.
     
  14. JayDee

    JayDee New Member

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    There's certainly a large young contingency (under 35) at Statfold who fire, drive, guard etc.
     
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  15. Wayne

    Wayne New Member

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    All of the current DBC drivers have been trained since the end of steam, non of us were on the footplate in the 1960's.
    Our youngest, Jim Clarke, being in his thirties.
    We are just going through a round of interviews for the next group of drivers who will be trained up as firemen, or if she gets through the interview process, a firewoman!
    Which would be nice if she gets the chance, particularly as she's on the same patch as me.
     
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  16. Kylchap

    Kylchap New Member

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    I hope she does get the chance. Llangollen have an experienced firewoman and I've seen one firing 46100 on the main line. I once new a woman who fired as a volunteer for the NYMR. No doubt there are others, too.
     
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  17. 240P15

    240P15 Member

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    deleted
     
  18. Johnb

    Johnb Resident of Nat Pres

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    We've come a long way since Dick Hardy said it couldn't carry on when all the old steam men had retired. The difference is that the current footplatemen are guaranteed an engine in top mechanical condition which certainly want the case in the 60s. How they kept running with some of the clapped out machinery I saw back then is a tribute to their tenacity. That's not decrying the achievements of the new steam crews, drivers don't get the 20 years+ apprenticeship as a fireman and junior driver now, correct me if I'm wrong Wayne but it seems you are thrown in at the deep end a bit.
     
  19. Allegheny

    Allegheny Member

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    How many people are usually on the footplate these days ? It has to make a difference.
     
  20. Wenlock

    Wenlock Active Member Friend

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    On the K&ESR it varies according to circumstances, but never exceeds four. Locos on weekdays frequently have just driver and fireman when volunteers are in shorter supply. When a qualifying cleaner is available then they will probably be rostered as third man. The fourth person could be a footplate pass holder, an inspector or a Pilotman, or during a "railway experience day" two members of public with two normal crew. If we had to make an RXD movement under Pilotman working then the course participants would have to step down for that section of line and ride the cushions.
     

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