Becoming a Train Driver – Part 9: Simulator Assessment

BUZZ! BUZZ! BUZZ! went the alarm on Monday morning, at 3 o’clock to be precise!
These bones have got used to ‘sleeping in’ during training. I was only getting up at around 4 to be out the door by 04h50.

If you can recall, Monday meant that it was my chance to drive one of the Dead Head trains, the Facilitator overseeing every action and move and instructing when to apply power notches or brake steps. I must say that it’s quite a job to program yourself to be proactive rather than react to situations. On the Simulator, when certain things happen, one is used to responding in a certain way, now – with the help of the facilitator, as it will be with my Trainer Driver – it’s a new ball game altogether and you have to trust their knowledge and stay your hand so to speak. In short, it went quite well! (Yes, it was uneventful – that’s the whole idea behind getting your first taste of real train driving with a Dead Head train, lol!)

I know who my Trainer Driver is going to be and I’m quite happy that he is one of the best Drivers and, as a bonus, he is from the first group to be employed as Train Drivers on the Golden Railway. From my time as a Conductor, I have experienced first hand his train handling capabilities and this fits in with my goal of becoming a Top Driver.

At the suggestion of the Facilitator, Ash and I took our Simulator Assessment on Wednesday. This is what I like about our Facilitator, if he sees a person is ready, he encourages you to get things out the way so you can ‘ease the load’, it was the same with Practical Train Preparation. I’m pleased to say that Ash and myself both passed on our first attempts! We now only have to focus on Theory Assessments and a few practical exercises.

In brief my Scenario was thus:

Normal Scheduled, 4 Car train
Departing at 08:00
Train ID: MR4107

I would be faced with a Flashing Red Signal*, Wrong Direction Running and a Power Failure (Before your assessment, you pick a number between 1 and 10 from a bag and hand it to the Facilitator, he then prints your Scenario for you and marks it while you are going through the various procedures). As he forewarned us – that Blue Driver’s seat became Red HOT!

On Thursday and Friday, we learnt how to isolate the brakes on a car following our Driver’s Procedures Booklet. My partner – Zorro – and I were the first guinea pigs and it took us 45 minutes. The best time is held by ClassCaptain and Deco who did it in 25 minutes. As a person practices more and gets used to the procedure booklet, I believe it will be easier and we all will be able to do it in 20/25 minutes.

On Friday we did our last assessment on the EMU and now we’re left with ODM Assessments, the last one being on Wednesday this coming week!

From what I understand, we will be practicing other ODM faults and writing an assessment on Coupling and Uncoupling on Monday and Tuesday. Thursday is earmarked for any rewrites we have and Friday will be more practicals on cranking points. I have received permission to attend the breakfast with the CEO and the other winners of the awards of last week!

If all goes well, then we will be having lunch with HR next week as a treat for passing. We start on shift with our Trainer Drivers on Tuesday – I cannot wait!

Aaaand, that’s what happened this previous week – until next time!

*On the Golden Railway, Flashing Red signals function as Permissive signals and can be compared with the Calling-on function of these signals, as they instruct the Driver to proceed but to be prepared to stop short of any obstruction.

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4 thoughts on “Becoming a Train Driver – Part 9: Simulator Assessment

  1. Jade on TFR it is a blue light with the red aspect. I’m following you from Sierra Leone and can’t wait for your finals. Good luck friend

    • Scoot, having been a Conductor for all these years and having started at a young age in Railway ops, it has helped tremendously. What makes it tough is that we need to write our answers word for word and that is what I struggle with!

      Thanks for the comment!

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