A picture showing inside of a train driver’s compartment. Source: www.alamy.com
The word ‘driver’ is a common word people use to refer to a person who moves or drives any type of motor vehicle such as car, bus, trailer, heavy duty truck, among others on the public roads. Therefore, everyone knows who a driver really is. And so, a car driver, bus driver, truck driver among others are all types of drivers in road transportation.
Who is a Train Driver?
Similarly, on the other hand, a train driver is a person who drives or moves a train on its tracks. However, to become a qualified train driver requires more intensive training program than to become a road driver. Moving people and cargo, in their large number, to their destinations effectively and safely indeed demands a lot of training and skills coupled with technical know-how or (mechanical knowledge) needed for safe operation. These, among others, explain why it’s a noble career in overland transportation.
It’s important to note that the train driver’s occupation has different names it’s called or known by in different countries. For instance, in Canada and America, the train drivers are called engineers(not synonymous with mechanical engineer) while in some other countries they are called, engine drivers, train drivers, loco pilots, motormen, and train operators. However, whatever names they are called is not the essence of this article; rather it’s really about the occupation, its role and importance in railway transportation.
It is no longer new that some railway transport companies in Europe are planning to be fully automated. It means that trains, as it were, will be operated through the computer and will be also monitored remotely from a station-based control room. However, in line with this new development, a research study was carried out by researchgate.net/publication to know the likely problems related to this
The research, however, revealed that there are hidden core values of a train driver that must not be compromised by any railway industries. Quoting from the said research work, train drivers ‘anticipate, observe, interpret, and react to events in the surrounding environment. Furthermore, they are a significant interaction link between different actors…’
Nevertheless, the conclusion of this research work was that these inevitable roles of a train driver must be reckoned with otherwise, running a fully automated train transport system can affect transport safety and the quality of service rendered to the public.
Notable Responsibilities of a train driver
The task of a train driver as it’s noted above is far more than moving a train only on its track. The train driver performs more important functions during train operations that makes its role inevitable. As a result, the following are the responsibilities of a train driver:
1. Customer care: Train driver is expected to provide good customer care to passengers such that will enable them to patronize the service provider again for other trips. He is expected to build a good relationship with passengers during each operation, such as good and timely communication, operating according to the laid down rules and procedures for efficient and smooth transportation.
2.Safety: In transportation, safety always comes first; it is the first thing that must be considered, and therefore, one of the important responsibilities of the train driver is to ensure the safety of all the passengers during the operations. We all know that the train carries goods and passengers in large number. Therefore, safety and security in public transport operation is very important. He is expected to strictly adhere to safety rules.
3. Effective communication: The train driver also plays an important role in giving necessary information to both the passengers and the management at the right time. If there’s any problem during the operation, he is expected to communicate to the passengers in a calm manner that will not lead to any form of panic. He must be a good communicator both in verbal and written forms.
He also uses the radio communication to find out the state or the condition of the route he is traveling on. For instance, there may be problem on a section of the track; the engineer could be at work on the track, there could also be a blockage probably due to an accident at a level crossing, etc. In any of these situations, the radio communication could be used from the control room probably to divert the train to another route that is free and safer.
4. Concentration: He also demonstrates such a skill as focusing his attention for long periods of time during a long journey. This, he does, to enable him know the track layouts so as to plan stops for signals and stations since we know that the train cannot stop suddenly like a car or motor vehicle. Hence, stopping a train at any particular location must be planned ahead of time. This, indeed, is an additional responsibility in daily schedule of a train driver.
5. A vigorous alert: A professional train driver is expected to be watchful and able to think clearly to perceive a potential danger and to quickly act to avoid it. At times, tracks can be run through a dangerous territory and if the train driver is not vigilant enough this may lead to an unwanted rail accident.
The potential and capacity benefits of a train driver in rail transportation have made the services of train drivers a noble career in rail transportation system. Therefore, to achieve efficiency and effectiveness in railway transportation as well as to enhance its smooth operations, the need for the services of a train driver cannot be over-looked.