Find out what it’s like to drive a train and the interesting things drivers have to think about to keep you safe.
Q&A with Sam
What’s your role and how did you start the job?
I’m Samantha a 42-year-old mum of two. I’ve driven London Overground trains since 2018 when I joined as a trainee driver.
I was originally a driver on the North London line and now I’m on the West Anglia routes, so I drive between London Liverpool Street, Chingford, Cheshunt and Enfield. I’m also a Health and Safety rep for my depot in Chingford.
What’s the best part of being a train driver?
That’s difficult to pin down! I have great colleagues, it makes all the difference in a job I think. Not just at my depot but across our network everyone is really friendly, so the people are a huge plus. The staff room is always a good place to be.
I also enjoy seeing the changing of the seasons. From watching the little fox cubs coming out in the spring and growing as I travel by, to driving in the snow (it’s strangely a very peaceful experience). You get to see it all! ☃️🌤🌞
What is the most challenging part of being a train driver?
Safety is always paramount in our role as a train driver. We have to ensure that we drive in the safest way and that every departure is as it should be. I think we have more of a head-down society nowadays, so people are often not looking at what they are doing or are messaging on their phone. I have to be even more aware of passengers on platforms than you might expect, both when I pull in but even more so when I leave. 💨
First, I make sure the gap between the platform edge and the yellow line is clear. Then I start the departure process which sounds the door closing alarms and closes the doors. However, people sometimes make a last-minute dash for the doors or try to hold them open for others, which comes with big risks like people getting hands or belongings trapped. 🤚🏽 ✊🏽 ⚠️
Everyone wants to reach their train on time and get home, but sometimes it’s safer to wait for the next train. The train doors may not automatically reopen if smaller items such as bag straps or umbrellas obstruct them, so us train drivers have to be extra vigilant for that. We are trained to deal with all situations, but you can never know what a person will do. I have to check and recheck the platform area alongside the train with my screen images. This pressure on me increases with the risk from ‘runners’, so I think for me the hardest part of the job is this.
Do you have any secret tips from your travels?
Train drivers can close the doors up to 30 seconds before departure time, so to not get caught out, get on board in plenty of time! Little things can get trapped in our doors so really try to keep things away from the closing doors once the door closing alarm sounds as the train driver cannot stop the process!
Finally, Liverpool Street station has a rooftop garden next door (135 Bishopsgate) that you can visit! Not many people know it’s there. 🤗
How will you prep for your next train driver shift?
Prep for work, that’s easy. I make sure my bag is prepared with all that I need which is surprisingly a lot. Being a train driver is quite a different role to what people think it is!
I also make sure I have my rest. To unwind I generally walk my dogs, essentially, preparation and rest are key. It’s really important in this job to manage your lifestyle, we run passenger services for 20 hours every day, so life runs around the railway.
Watch Sam on TikTok
Plus, if you prefer, Sam’s interview video is also on Instagram Reels.
Plus, if you prefer, Sam’s to-do video is also on Instagram Reels.
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