You’re a Driver, Arty, why would you give that up?!

I promised in my ‘October in a Nutshell’ post that I would discuss the factors of my decision to reconsider maintaining my career as a Train Driver. Such a decision is never taken easily and quickly, and I spent a good few weeks both thinking about it myself, weighing the pros and cons of the decision, and also as I said I spent some time speaking to people about it. My mother, close friends, and other railway staff. Everyone I have spoken to agree that while the decision is as ever entirely mine, that the reasons I have given for the decision are sound and reasonable.

Mental Health and Stress

Essentially, it always boils down to Mental Health and stress, which is such an important subject to discuss. When it comes to careers and work, you really should be happy and safe at work. At the training academy, I was in my element. Learning rules and procedures I am excellent at, and I had a grand time. And then it came to being released to depot, and starting driving… and the actual practice of driving a train is a lot more different than rules and procedures. There’s so much more to it than that, and I was both prepared and not prepared. Initially, I thought I was doing well, but that was when we were in the easy lane and my Driving Instructor had the training wheels on; he was telling me what to do. When it came to me making my own decisions… I was starting to falter. I wasn’t retaining the route knowledge that I needed to base my decisions on, and I was getting stressed. It got to the point where I was dreading going to work, because I knew I’d be getting stress-induced headaches, and feeling unwell.

In the railway industry, mental health and stress are things we take very seriously, as it can impact upon the safety of the network. Those who are stressed at work are more likely to make mistakes, and mistakes on the railway can have serious consequences. This is the reason I’ve listed it first and foremost, because I want my mental health back, dang it!

Comfort at work

I have realised, since leaving my old job, that there were quite a few things that I could do as a Guard I cannot as a Driver. It’s a lot more difficult to do simple things like nipping for the loo when you’re hurtling along at 100mph! And… well, I won’t go into detail, but that matters to me. I also found that the pace and style of work as a Guard suited me better. Short, brief periods of utter concentration on platforms, followed by a nice relaxing patrol of the train, then back on the platform to open and close the doors again. The customer service in between station stops almost became relaxing at times… whereas drivers flip this around nearly entirely. The work of a Guard is so much more suited to me in the long run!

Other general bits and pieces

There are so many different factors in this decision, and like I have maintained throughout, I wouldn’t make this decision lightly. I’ve consulted with a lot of people, and I think I am making the right choice to keep myself and everyone around me safe. I really don’t want to have an incident where I’m putting people at risk, and it be calamitous. As a Guard, there’s still risk involved but not to the same degree as driving, and consciously… I prefer that. There’s so many different factors I don’t really want to divulge publicly, but know that I, Arty, of sound mind… am making the right choice!

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