11 Oct 2022
Operations Training Manager Adam Bagwell took the time to sit down and speak to some of our current crop of trainee train drivers to learn a little bit about them, and what they're working on right now.
In this blog, hear from Laura Thomas from course 43 about her experiences so far here at TfW, and her hopes for the future.
Laura Thomas, based in Cardiff
Trainee Driver - Course 43
Prior to starting with TfW I worked in a casino. I started as a croupier in 2004, but covered various positions, such as a receptionist and cashier. Whilst still working, I returned to the world of education in 2016 and attended university to study Law with Criminology and Criminal Justice. This played a key role in me being promoted to the role of Compliance Officer in 2019. Due to the Covid restrictions, the casino was closed for several months which granted me the time to reflect on what I was doing and what I actually wanted out of a career. I considered the efforts and sacrifices made by key workers, and realised that I wanted a job that was worthwhile and provided a service.
What are you currently learning?
On the driver course we are currently studying ‘Degraded Operations’. Obviously, nobody wants things to go wrong, but working in an industry with so many moving parts, it inevitably will. Whilst studying the theory of such incidents is very different to real life experiences, the training we’ve received and the discussions we’ve had on this topic have given us the confidence to know we can deal with them.
How are you finding it?
Honestly, I am loving every second. Some modules are more challenging than others, but the course is well set out and broken down into manageable chunks. I knew absolutely nothing about trains when I started but I have never felt like I was in over my head. The trainers have all shown themselves to be knowledgeable, encouraging and approachable. Using ‘personality insights’ from the beginning, they have delivered stress free learning that has worked with our group’s different ways of learning and understanding.
What is the most enjoyable part of it?
Learning something new and working with my cohort. I feel really lucky that our group has such a good rapport with one another. We’ve worked well together from the start and supported each other in, and out, of the classroom. Yes, we appreciate that this is a safety critical role and there is a lot of information to learn, but it certainly hasn’t felt like a chore. You don’t always associate work with fun, but I definitely have more laughter lines than I did when I started.
What has been the biggest challenge so far?
For me, the biggest challenge was taking that initial step; pushing myself out of my comfort zone and leaving a job that I knew inside and out. It would have been so easy to stay where I was, but I decided that life was too short for “what ifs”.
What do your family and friends think of what you’re doing?
When I told family and friends that I had applied some of the reactions were that of bewilderment, ‘Oh? Really? Why? That’s different!’ Despite it being 2022, I think some (and certainly those of an older generation) were still caught off guard that a ‘girl’ would want to be, or in fact could be, a train driver. Overall, though, they have been very supportive and encouraging. My Gran, who doesn’t remember who I am most of the time, has told everyone in her care home that her granddaughter is going to be a train driver.
What would you say to anyone else considering the career?
Go for it! The training department will help and support you every step of the way. There are the obvious benefits to the role but ultimately, it’s a job for life that you can be proud of. I have yet to meet anyone who has spoken negatively about the role; everyone who I have had conversations with have said, “driving is the best job, you won’t regret it”.