I was wondering if there were any trains drivers for South West Trains on this forum that I would be able to contact further to ask about what the job is like, as I am 14, and looking to become a train driver when I'm older.
It's nice to see that someone so young is looking to the future and asking questions such as these.
I would offer a suggestion. Have you considered asking South West Trains whether they would be willing for you to do work experience with them? You're getting to the stage in school when work experience comes up.
Also, just a bit of advice generally. Get yourself part-time jobs as soon as possible, most employers like a good work ethic and willingness to muck in. Keep up with your education and get some work under your belt.
There have been similar threads of late - take a look back at the advice given. As ever, concentrate on that from those actually doing the job, rather than that from platform end "experts"!
Driving is pretty much the same from one operator to another.
The advice above about getting work experience is well worth heeding. Vital to get good grades at school too. 14 is way too young to overly focus on one career choice. Make sure you give yourself as many options as possible.
Preservation can be great fun, and good experience in the wider (not railway specific) sense. I started myself at your age; real world work experience is what landed me a Driver's job though. Make sure you're able to demonstrate interests and experience beyond trains. The youth organisations, cadets, etc, are worth a look.
Finally, remember driving is often a second career for people later in life, often with no railway background whatsoever. Particulary so on London commuter operators.
Or from those in different grades who haven't or couldn't get into the driving grade.
But at 14 I would concentrate on other things. As E & W put it, get good grades, look into further education and look at other careers you may wish to take up.
There isn't any harm in having the driving job as a second career. But make sure you have a decent set of qualifications and experience should that path not work out. Both are as important as the other.
Sensible advice sometimes get spoilt by bitching amongst people. Plenty of people in other roles in the industry or even outside the industry can offer valuable advice, some even just more general advice on career matters. A driving role, while with its own unique facets, is very similar to many other jobs in many respects.
There is a lot of bitching in the railway industry, and that is one thing you will have to be prepared for.
Other than that, I think advice from the posters above are pretty sound.
My day always begins the night before. I check what time I'm required and head off home. I have to balance home life with work life and as a Driver I have to make sure I am well rested and free of any drugs or alcohol. I set my alarm for 0330 and go to bed.
The alarm goes off and I wash, dress, eat brekkie and head to work. I'm restricted to how far I live from my depot and my typical journey is around half hour. I book on, in full uniform, and grab my diagram for the day. Its got 319 and 465 work on it and due to my 12 weeks of rules, 2 weeks of traction and 225 hours of manual handling I am well trained and competent in what services I will be driving that day.
I check the stock sheet and head to the Sidings to prepare my unit for service. Brake tests, and the required unit checks all done I contact the Signaller and give him nod that I'm ready.
Into the platform, change ends, set the cab up and take my 0500 service to London. Its nice and dark out there and the weather is misty and wet. I carry out my required running brake test and slide uncontrollably. I pull the unit back to my control and aim to stop on a set of DOO monitors that are about a metre from the edge of the platform and thanks to the training I hit them perfectly. Remembering all the policy and procedures in place I dispatch my train for the passengers. 1 stop down, 18 to go. An hour later I roll into London +4 late. Passengers are upset and someone makes a snide comment as he passes me. The service made PPM so I'm happy. Change ends again and repeat for the next 4 hours.
10am rolls around and I get a break. A quick 30 minutes to go for a pee, an expensive coffee from Costa, expensive sandwich from Pret, and overpriced sweets from Smiths. Not a problem, £50k pa
Time up and I head to my next service. ECS to a depot and birth the unit for the afternoon. A quick walk up the local walking route and relieve another Driver for her PNB and I'm back towards London. There is still a little congestion and I'm hitting restrictive aspects for the next 10 minutes. The rain is really going some now and visibility is down. 20mph towards the Red and SG when I get there. Passengers need an announcement and I spew out my usual congestion one (I can see trains stacked up) Arrive +12 and I'm already due out. A Passenger asks me why I said it was congestion when it was a broken down train. I thank him for the message and change ends and set my cab up once again. Quick delay announcement to the passengers, "apologies this is due to a broken down train...."
I head out on the next service and try and pull a little time back. The Signaller is on the same page as me and he puts me across on the fast. Remembering my few months of route learning its 40mph across the junction and I need position 4. Yep that's what I've got. Sent back across to the slow lines and I eventually trundle into my home depot. It's Bill relieving me and I tell him about the broken down train, my unit length, and how the track conditions are going. 10 minute walk to the depot in the rain
I'm booked off but I've got delay reports to fill in so I'm hanging about for about 20 minutes in my own time. The DM wants a quick work about my latest download and I'm delayed on my way home further. I grab a butchers at my turn tomorrow and note I'm back in 0500 tomorrow. A quick check of the notice cases and head home.
Nice read comUtor. Sounds similar to my current job as a bus driver
I've been trying to get on the trains for the last 3/4 years. The recruitment process is so long winded and I spent 10 months on hold to be told there was no jobs! I'm back on hold again now and awaiting a date for the assessment centre... AGAIN My advice for the OP is what everyone else has said already, but don't forget that education continues beyond school and with all my qualifications I have the equivalent of 15 GCSEs and 5 A levels. If you enjoy public transport then bus driving is really easy to get into and the skills you learn are very similar to that of a train driver so that's the route I have taken.