A Day in the Life of a Driver – Part 2: Types of Trains

Hello once again! Our series continues on a day in the life of a Golden Railway Train Driver. Last time we covered the signing on duties and Train Preparation, let’s look today at the actual shifts.

By now the Conductor has joined you, if you are on the General Commuter Line – Airport Link Conductors join the train at Sandton – and you are ready to depart. You are one of seven types of trains:

– Sweeper Train to Hatfield
– Sweeper Train to ORTIA
– Sweeper Train to Park
– Hot Standby Train
– Dead Head to Hatfield
– Dead Head to Sandton (Airport Link Trains)
– Dead Head to Park


Sweeper trains are the first three trains to depart from the Depot in the Morning. Two depart from the Northern Side and one from the Southern Side of the Depot.

They leave well in advance of normal Dead Head Trains as they travel at 80km/h and the Driver of each train must check where appropriate:

– Signals
– Manhole Covers
– The Catenary Wire
– Tunnel Emergency Lighting
– Emergency Shaft Doors are Closed
– The Track and Rail Reserve in general

These trains stop at all stations picking up and transferring a few Security Guards going on or off duty and Customer Service Attendants who are maybe required to be at other stations for that day.

Now, you may ask why two trains depart from the North Side when, actually, two need to depart from the South Side. You see, the Airport Link Sweeper only goes as far as Sandton before the Driver Terminates and changes ends in order to continue Sweeping to ORTIA. One train Sweeps to Hatfield and the other Sweeps up to the Pocket Track (Between the Up and Down Lines at the Northern Side of the Depot), the Driver changes ends and Sweeps up to the crossover that controls movements out the Southern Side and onto the Down Line. Then travels Line Speed up to Sandton as the Airport Sweeper has already covered this section and then Sweeping Speed again up to Park.


As mentioned previously, these trains are basically Standby Trains that have been prepared and are ready to depart at a moment’s notice. Most of the time there is one for the Airport Link and one for General Commuter Service. They are normally staged in the Depot as the Depot is central. There are occasions when the trains might wait at certain stations – like Park, ORTIA and Hatfield but this is rare. Either there are Drivers booked to man Hot Standby Trains, or, the Standby Driver/s will be sent to man them. When sent out from the Depot, they become Dead Head Trains.


These trains are sent out in closer intervals and travel straight to the various Terminal Stations at Normal Line Speed without stopping. Later on in the day, when we transition to Off Peak, we withdraw trains – these normally come to the Depot Dead Head from Hatfield for General Commuter Service or from Sandton for the Airport Link trains.

Just before afternoon Peak, trains are inserted again and then withdrawn in the evening as we approach the last passenger carrying trains from Terminal Stations – currently the 20h30 trains.


The first trains depart roughly around 05h30 from Terminal Stations and the last trains depart with passengers roughly 20h30. An In Service train will always start and end as a Dead Head Train.

That concludes Part 2, I hope you enjoyed it, now to get started with part 3!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s