Railway Experience, Part 4 – The Finale of THIS series


Myself in front of a SAR Class 15F

In my previous post, I told you of my time spent at BTS. Today, I’m writing about my last Train related place of work before the Big Gap and becoming a Golden Railway Conductor. This post is quite emotional for me as it covers just before the beginning of my career at the Golden Railway. It’s long again and will be the conclusion to this series, enjoy!

While I was at home, I often went onto the Yahoo! Group ‘sar~L’ and would interact with the folks there. It was through that group that I met my next boss Piet Hanekom (‘All these Piets?’, you ask- I know!!!).

You could say that he sort of head hunted me as he heard that I resigned at BTS and noticed that I posted and commented a lot on the sar~L Group at that time. I was also a customer of his. He emailed me and said that he needed someone to work in his Model Railway shop who had a passion for and knowledge about trains. I replied ‘Great, when do I start?’, now if you remember in my last post I pointed out the fact I wasn’t interviewed for the BTS job, thus, I was surprised by his response by saying: ‘Wait wait wait, I need to interview you first’. In my mind, I already had the job, so thought nothing of it, and in hindsight there’s not much competition – at least in South Africa – for people wanting to work in a Model Train Shop. Ah, the bliss of ignorance when you’re young!

Anyway, went for the interview, secured the job and even got a raise after my first week there! I spent two years there. It was great and I got to meet lots of interesting people – for instance the famous Judge Hilary Squires, among others from the sar~L Group. Sadly, it closed down for reasons I will not mention here. For interest sake, the shop’s name was Trainzone.

It was here that I deviated from anything and everything trains as I did a host of other jobs over the next 3 years (the Big Gap referred to earlier), never finding happiness because the call of the Rails is a strong one and to try ignore it is pain itself. I never gave up on and I never forgot my passion. It was not the same thing just volunteering, I HAD to have my career on the railways (and in no way is this a slight to the volunteers that keep our steam trains and heritage trains running – they are unsung heroes). I tried, cried and applied to no avail. I believed my place was here in South Africa and stayed true to this belief. Finally, since I would not go overseas – it came to me.

I remember after coming back from an interview one day, quite disheartened, and browsing through various Facebook posts that I saw a post by the Golden Railway. Something told me to write a comment on their wall and ask if they needed anymore Train Drivers as I really wanted to become one.

They gave me a private email address to contact them on and I did. I explained my passion and how I really wanted with all my heart to work on a railway and my volunteer experience and how I failed to get in with PRASA and TFR. The Gentleman said he was sure they could use another stig [sic] and he’d pass my CV on to HR. I remember afterwards crying and praying and saying to God that I was tired of not getting my way and not being afforded the opportunity of so simple a thing as being a Railwayman.

A week went by and so I decided to follow up – the gentleman said he heard nothing and would follow up on his side and get back to me. Another week went by and I had a huge conflict inside me on whether or not I should bug him again. I decided to take a chance and just irritate the poor man and ask again – darn it, this WAS my dream anyway, I HAD to push it.

He simply replied with: ‘Didn’t you get my mail?’ I was shocked, checked my phone – nothing! I quickly replied that I hadn’t received anything. It turned out that on the previous Friday he sent me a mail explaining that he may not just hand in my CV to HR and that I had to go through the proper channels – at that time it meant Career Junction (I know, how ironic, a job site with a railway theme to the name!). I emailed him back and thanked him and drove as fast as I could with the last cash I had on me for the month to the Internet Cafe at the local Pick ‘n Pay.

It turned out I had just enough, I logged on and there was a Vacancy posted up, I clicked on it and…….. It was NOT a Train Drivers post! It was for a High Voltage technician – something I’m not qualified to do. I can’t say I wasn’t disappointed but I’m not one to miss an opportunity either.

I wrote a looooonngg letter that the site said it would send to HR on my behalf, of course I heard nothing but at least I tried (shame HRs everywhere probably get a lot of messages like mine daily – a tough job to have). A week later, on the Saturday, I went to my parents house and tried again – the site reflected TWO posts this time! Ever optimistic, I had a good feeling this time and THERE it was – a post for a Conductor. I knew it wasn’t a Train Drivers post, but my past of volunteering flashed before my eyes, I felt a lot of emotion and I KNEW that here is my chance to get my foot through the door. I remember screaming and telling my family, I applied and, on the Monday, I received a SMS to be at Cedar Park Conference Centre the next week Monday.

The rest is History as they say (of course I will cover the process in a future post) and I’d like to take this opportunity to tell you that no matter what your dream is, no matter how much you battle or have to go through, you CAN have it – you just have I believe and keep on keeping on. Thank you for following my posts on my experience, I hope it encourages you like it does me every day.

Check out my other series of Becoming a Driver and, periodically, I will post stories from before I became a Trainee Driver!



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