Food for thought for those applying - Risk of over preparing for the driver tests

Mattydo

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I think the "ignoring" is more in the social setting rather than the in-cab setting which would indeed be a CRM issue - or indeed it it follows through from the mess room. Most drivers won't encounter fellow drivers on their actual driving and will be paired with 1 (or a few) DIs throughout their training only handing over to another driver at specified handover points.
Granted but CRM would usually advocate at least a certain amount of pleasantries in a social setting too. In uniform at least.
 
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Horizon22

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Granted but CRM would usually advocate at least a certain amount of pleasantries in a social setting too. In uniform at least.

True, can't force people to like each other though! I am being a bit tongue-in-cheek here - of course a certain level of professionalism must be expected and being made to feel like an "other" can weigh on your mind after you've left the mess room and into the cab.
 

Mattydo

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True, can't force people to like each other though! I am being a bit tongue-in-cheek here - of course a certain level of professionalism must be expected and being made to feel like an "other" can weigh on your mind after you've left the mess room and into the cab.
Ha don’t get me wrong almost everyone groans when the CRM recency training comes up (I have an abnormal interest in Human Factors) and I’m sure it’s being over stated, but I would I rather hope it isn’t an openly hostile work environment. Thus far my experience of the railway has been of a quite friendly and supportive environment. All grades seem to show a fair amount of jealousy towards drivers (behind their backs), and there is a perhaps seemingly unnecessary hostility towards some managers, but I’m pretty new to the industry so there might be historical reason at my depot. Anyway I’ll find out for myself soon enough what the journey to footplate is like.
 

Rockhopper

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This talk of ignoring new trainees and indeed to an extent newly qualified drivers does surprise me. In the industry I’m coming from it is a human factors issue that the industry has spent a considerable amount of time, effort and money to overcome.

Crew Resource Management (CRM) training as it’s called initially focussed on flight deck power gradients. There were several incidents (The BMI Kegworth crash on the M1 in 1989 being a major one), where junior crew (pilots and cabin) were too scared to speak up when a captain made a mistake for fear of retribution or, assuming they “knew what they were doing”.

It was found that this mentality started in the pilot’s lounge where seniority played a huge part in a social pecking order.

The Captains, predominantly ex military, were also not used to having decisions challenged.

What followed those findings was a huge purge on ex military recruitment and a bigger focus on what my seniors may refer to as the fluffy aspects of the job but human factors trainers would refer to as; creating a safe environment for open communication.

In recent years it was found to be even more important in a training situation where an absolutist approach to training resulted in poorer uptake of information and a reluctance to ask questions for fear of being reprimanded for not having already acquired the information.

Now don’t get me wrong, experience is highly valuable, but with it can come complacency and an attitude of expectation that is not conducive to learning.

I would expect as Non-Techs become more important in the railway industry these discussions and concepts will also become more common.

You are thinking of the Staines crash back in 1972. Captain Stanley Keys was ex military. He retracted the droops too early and no one else on the flight deck dared to question him as he was one of the most senior Captains in BEA.
The BMI accident was complex but mostly caused by the crews unfamiliarity with the version of the 737 they were flying.
 

Mattydo

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You are thinking of the Staines crash back in 1972. Captain Stanley Keys was ex military. He retracted the droops too early and no one else on the flight deck dared to question him as he was one of the most senior Captains in BEA.
The BMI accident was complex but mostly caused by the crews unfamiliarity with the version of the 737 they were flying.
Actually they are both pretty good, but far from the only examples, of a breakdown in CRM. In several communications between the flight deck and cabin crew the damaged engine was discussed and wrongly identified by the Captain but with no attempt to reach a clear understanding by the cabin crew. Not their fault but because they were not taught to question and confirm in the way crew are now.

In interviews after the FO also admitted to being unsure of, and not vocalising that confusion about, the identification of the failed engine. It transpired he was actually more experienced on that variant than the skipper.

The Captain’s confusion did indeed arise from the EICAS layout as opposed to the old “steam gauges” he was used to. As well as a change in the 300/400 bleed system that meant air supply for the cockpit was primarily from the right not left engine as in previous variants.

It is also important to say that the Captain himself was not known to be unapproachable, however the industry culture at the time still didn’t emphasise the importance of vocalising concerns and utilising all crew aboard and on the ground. Too much that could have been said was not.
 
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Gloster

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You are thinking of the Staines crash back in 1972. Captain Stanley Keys was ex military. He retracted the droops too early and no one else on the flight deck dared to question him as he was one of the most senior Captains in BEA.
The BMI accident was complex but mostly caused by the crews unfamiliarity with the version of the 737 they were flying.
Staines has been quoted as one of the extreme examples of what was known as the ‘Captain is God’ syndrome. Captain Keys was thought to have made the mistake due to having some form of heart attack, probably caused by a heated argument related to industrial action before take-off, and as he seems to have been regarded as a bit of a martinet, nobody spoke up. Incidentally, it has been said that Qantas’ good safety record was due to the Australian willingness to speak up and not be cowed by seniority, God or not. (That, and, the fact that the most dangerous parts of the flight are take-off and landing, but with so many long-haul flights, these two operations make a welcome change and the pilots are more likely to treat each one individually. Duties that involve frequent take-offs and landings are likely to result in a slight casualness, however conscientious the pilots are.)

At Kegworth, I think that the engine from which the cabin air supply was drawn had been changed from one side to the other on the new mark of the aircraft that was involved. However, nobody had properly briefed the pilots about this, if at all. When burning was smelt, they assumed that it was coming from the engine which had always previously supplied the air and shut it down, even though it was the sound engine. This left them with one engine that was on the point of failing, which it did. Lesson: brief staff fully about all changes and their results.
 

Mattydo

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Staines has been quoted as one of the extreme examples of what was known as the ‘Captain is God’ syndrome. Captain Keys was thought to have made the mistake due to having some form of heart attack, probably caused by a heated argument related to industrial action before take-off, and as he seems to have been regarded as a bit of a martinet, nobody spoke up. Incidentally, it has been said that Qantas’ good safety record was due to the Australian willingness to speak up and not be cowed by seniority, God or not. (That, and, the fact that the most dangerous parts of the flight are take-off and landing, but with so many long-haul flights, these two operations make a welcome change and the pilots are more likely to treat each one individually. Duties that involve frequent take-offs and landings are likely to result in a slight casualness, however conscientious the pilots are.)

At Kegworth, I think that the engine from which the cabin air supply was drawn had been changed from one side to the other on the new mark of the aircraft that was involved. However, nobody had properly briefed the pilots about this, if at all. When burning was smelt, they assumed that it was coming from the engine which had always previously supplied the air and shut it down, even though it was the sound engine. This left them with one engine that was on the point of failing, which it did. Lesson: brief staff fully about all changes and their results.
Perhaps showing how CRM extends beyond the flight deck or fuselage really.

It is ultimately a contributing factor in many incidents although not always the primary one.

anyway we are getting dangerously into the realms of a pprune discussion rather than a railway one. Interesting as it may be to employees in both industries.
 

ainsworth74

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Quite so! A fascinating topic but unless we can bring it to a slightly more railway focused angle time to leave it there or take it to a new thread in Other Transport (which would be more than welcome!) :)
 

notadriver

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We have to also remember these roles are incredibly competitive - we're talking rations of 1000+:1 for each vacancy when these come up - and therefore even getting part-way through a phase probably means you are better than 80-90% of people and should take some heart in that. A select few will "have it" and that's what the MMI and DMI will look out for - you may not know it until it happens.
It’s incredibly hard to get a job as a trainee bus driver too. I had multiple attempts.
 

O L Leigh

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I have to say that I think that the assessment of the situation is perhaps a little stark and I’m not sure that I entirely agree with much of it.

I am still to be convinced that the information and advice given on sites like this makes a lot of difference to the outcome of driver assessments. As has already been mentioned, the TOCs themselves send out practice material for candidates to try with and the type of questions you might be asked by a manager could reasonably be guessed at after a fairly short period of reflection. In addition, no matter how much information and advice is offered a candidate still has to sit the assessment for real and is in no way guaranteed to pass. But even if they do, this really is only the first of very many hurdles that they will have to clear before they qualify, and not all trainees will manage that.

As for ignoring new drivers, I think that’s just nonsense. Nobody sets out to deliberately ignore new colleagues, and anybody who does is an a***. Certainly the established drivers will all know each other and have shared histories often spanning decades so it can be hard for someone new to break into that, but that’s a different thing to a deliberate policy of ignoring a person. But then that’s the same when you’re new in many settings, whether that be a workplace, sports club or social setting and not specific to the railway.

I’ve certainly never experienced being deliberately ignored due to being new, either as a brand new driver or when transferring to a different company. And I do make a point of talking to both instructors and trainees when relieving/being relieved because I want to talk to whoever has just got out of/is about to get into the chair, because they are the ones who know/need to know about the train.

All that said, I do think that sometimes the new chaps occasionally need to put themselves forward a bit too. Hiding in corners or avoiding the messroom won’t help to break down barriers and integrate them into the wider depot community. It’s something I do when visiting other TOC’s messrooms, and it’s helped me to debunk a lot of the myths about certain locations which perpetuate around my home depot.
 

Carli

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This has been a very interesting read. I'm currently in a talent pool for a Trainee Train Driver, awaiting a medical and start date. Doubts have crossed my mind about whether I'm good enough to be a Train Driver but I'm determined to succeed. Thank you all for the information :)
 

387star

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Ha don’t get me wrong almost everyone groans when the CRM recency training comes up (I have an abnormal interest in Human Factors) and I’m sure it’s being over stated, but I would I rather hope it isn’t an openly hostile work environment. Thus far my experience of the railway has been of a quite friendly and supportive environment. All grades seem to show a fair amount of jealousy towards drivers (behind their backs), and there is a perhaps seemingly unnecessary hostility towards some managers, but I’m pretty new to the industry so there might be historical reason at my depot. Anyway I’ll find out for myself soon enough what the journey to footplate is like.
Yes I overheard some On Board Sometimes saying they thought new trainees acted like they own the place and look down on them. Sad they think that
 

Mattydo

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I have to say that I think that the assessment of the situation is perhaps a little stark and I’m not sure that I entirely agree with much of it.

I am still to be convinced that the information and advice given on sites like this makes a lot of difference to the outcome of driver assessments. As has already been mentioned, the TOCs themselves send out practice material for candidates to try with and the type of questions you might be asked by a manager could reasonably be guessed at after a fairly short period of reflection. In addition, no matter how much information and advice is offered a candidate still has to sit the assessment for real and is in no way guaranteed to pass. But even if they do, this really is only the first of very many hurdles that they will have to clear before they qualify, and not all trainees will manage that.

As for ignoring new drivers, I think that’s just nonsense. Nobody sets out to deliberately ignore new colleagues, and anybody who does is an a***. Certainly the established drivers will all know each other and have shared histories often spanning decades so it can be hard for someone new to break into that, but that’s a different thing to a deliberate policy of ignoring a person. But then that’s the same when you’re new in many settings, whether that be a workplace, sports club or social setting and not specific to the railway.

I’ve certainly never experienced being deliberately ignored due to being new, either as a brand new driver or when transferring to a different company. And I do make a point of talking to both instructors and trainees when relieving/being relieved because I want to talk to whoever has just got out of/is about to get into the chair, because they are the ones who know/need to know about the train.

All that said, I do think that sometimes the new chaps occasionally need to put themselves forward a bit too. Hiding in corners or avoiding the messroom won’t help to break down barriers and integrate them into the wider depot community. It’s something I do when visiting other TOC’s messrooms, and it’s helped me to debunk a lot of the myths about certain locations which perpetuate around my home depot.
I think that’s all good to hear I have to say.

I’m due to start my driver training next month and to be honest the workplace atmosphere is something I’ve looked forward to. My OH has been in the industry 12 years and their experience is of a much nicer place than the one I left behind.

I appreciate that as a driver you’re alone a fair amount, but I value the work place relationships I have made in the past and their benefit to my career in terms of being a source of information exchange as well as general chat.

To be honest I mainly used this part of the site as a quick one stop shop for seeing where openings may be coming up and a good place to read up on what to expect. Advice as to how to complete the tests... not so much. I practiced the material sent out so I knew what to expect on the day, dredged for the salient points about some tests such as what the MMI was all about... but mainly I found good rest and relaxing to be the best preparation for all but the DMI, which required some research into the company obviously.

I believed that I’d have the ability and experience they were looking for in such assessments due to my previous career and personality type. I think that helped to be more pragmatic in my approach to them.

I do feel some people may get wound up by them too much and that the perceived competitive nature of the job application might lead to some interesting points of view being put across.

As time has progressed I’ve found other parts of the forum more interesting anyway.
 

craigybagel

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It's things like this that make me surprised that more companies don't do things in reverse like TfW do. Instead of assessments being done near the beginning, they're actually the last step before a medical and job offer. By the time someone is put through for assessment, they've already been through the initial sift, a telephone interview with HR, and a full interview with a manager. So to get to this stage, they've already had to show a fair degree of aptitude. When I did my assessments, only 3 of us sat them - all of us passed and we're all qualified drivers now, and from what I've heard, the pass rate is pretty high.

That said, I do also wonder how much people really can use these forums to prepare. At the end of the day, these are aptitude tests - you either have aptitude or you don't, and I'm not entirely convinced you can "fake" it.

Moving on to the job itself - I got lucky with a very close knit training group and a wonderful trainer so as a result we have become friends for life, so in the end I really enjoyed my training. I also didn't experience any of the hostility mentioned - it might have helped that I was already a guard and knew all the drivers at the depot already, but I've never known any external candidate be treated any differently either.

The training is hard - and the job at times is hard too. But so long as you're in it for the right reasons, it's also very enjoyable, right from day one of training through to doing it for real.
 

Stigy

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It's things like this that make me surprised that more companies don't do things in reverse like TfW do. Instead of assessments being done near the beginning, they're actually the last step before a medical and job offer. By the time someone is put through for assessment, they've already been through the initial sift, a telephone interview with HR, and a full interview with a manager. So to get to this stage, they've already had to show a fair degree of aptitude. When I did my assessments, only 3 of us sat them - all of us passed and we're all qualified drivers now, and from what I've heard, the pass rate is pretty high.

That said, I do also wonder how much people really can use these forums to prepare. At the end of the day, these are aptitude tests - you either have aptitude or you don't, and I'm not entirely convinced you can "fake" it.

Moving on to the job itself - I got lucky with a very close knit training group and a wonderful trainer so as a result we have become friends for life, so in the end I really enjoyed my training. I also didn't experience any of the hostility mentioned - it might have helped that I was already a guard and knew all the drivers at the depot already, but I've never known any external candidate be treated any differently either.

The training is hard - and the job at times is hard too. But so long as you're in it for the right reasons, it's also very enjoyable, right from day one of training through to doing it for real.
Some TOCs do do things slightly back to front, but it’s usually just interviews.

I’m not sure doing it all the other way around would work, as probably hundreds are sifted at the psychometric stage. It would be a nightmare for managers.
 

craigybagel

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Some TOCs do do things slightly back to front, but it’s usually just interviews.

I’m not sure doing it all the other way around would work, as probably hundreds are sifted at the psychometric stage. It would be a nightmare for managers.
To be fair (and I speak from painful experience), it is indeed very difficult to get through the first sift at TfW. I've no idea though how the amount of people who get through to the next stage (Phone interview) compares with the amounts at other TOCs who get sent for assessments.
 

hiredgun

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At the end of the day, these are aptitude tests - you either have aptitude or you don't, and I'm not entirely convinced you can "fake" it.

This is how it is designed to be.
The OPC send out some ‘practice material’ which are similar exercises but essentially different from the actual test.
Therefore the actual test, on the day, is quite fresh, to see if you have the abilities.
If they wanted people to have the actual test in advance why create and send out different ones??
As has been said in this thread, there are some people who ask a few ‘nerve settling’ questions... but a good few who want a discription of each and every test, how long you get to answer, how to go about solving the tests, any cheats that people have noticed (such as with the grey squares and the telephone directory ones) what is the pass mark etc etc...

If they have this info, there are at least 3 tests in the stage 2 which they have a great advantage over people who don’t.

If the test is to find candidates with a particular characteristic, I can hone my responses, if I know the test, to improve the results???

Chuckle brothers rail recruitment maybe... but if a TOC/FOC is paying the OPC to filter out suitable candidates and some ‘unsuitables’ slip through.. will the test not get more intense and the people who don’t have ‘inside knowlage’ ,but are suitable, be less likely to make the new grade???
 

Eccles1983

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Sounds like some of you work in dreadful depots/toc's.

I've worked for two, and don't recognise any of these issues.

Furthermore, If I observed anyone getting the level of grief described above I would have a word. I'm all for having a laugh, and normally I initiate a lot of it on myself. But the line isnt that hard to see, and anyone stepping over it with newbies would be getting told. They could have 50 years service for all I care.

By all means listen and learn from the senior men, but they arent gods by any stretch.
 

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