Daniel Calebrano

"Our priority is to ensure that the overhead network and the infrastructure for powering trains and trams are kept in peak condition.”
Smiling man standing on bridge at night
Smiling man standing on bridge at night

Traction Electrician

Background: Defence

"As a traction linesman, I’m part of Queensland Rail’s (QR) maintenance personnel.

Our priority is to ensure that the overhead network and the infrastructure for powering trains and trams are kept in peak condition. This ensures that the railway network stays in good condition, which it gives us the best chance of making it safe for all.

One of the main challenges in maintaining electrical rail lines is dealing with shortages caused by vermin. Birds fly into overhead lines. Possums walk along them. Snakes cause trouble at ground level. I sometimes have to repair the damage caused by vermin.

It’s a misconception to say that we deal with derailments. We don’t actually deal with the problems caused by trains going off the rails.

We deal with “dewirements”. That means we fix up faulty wires that have been creating problems with the overhead network. Ours is a maintenance job. If we maintain the wiring, the railway network should be able to run as planned.

Dewirements are rare. But I did have to sort out one on the Gold Coast, and it remains one of the most challenging tasks I have faced.

A bunch of kids thought it might be fun to throw rocks and stones at a train as it passed beneath them near the Helensvale Station. The rocks created enough disturbance for the electrical wiring to be ripped off the roof and the overhead wiring to be badly damaged. The energy fault forced the train to stop.

I was the first railway worker on the scene. It was my job to clear the tangle of wires and make it safe for the firemen to come in. One spark could have created a lot of damage.

About fifty passengers were stuck in the train. It was hot and humid, and there was no air-conditioning. The passengers were pretty warm.

In the end, no one was hurt. I found it satisfying to dewire the train to prevent further damage to the overhead network. I helped to keep everyone safe.

I had no ambition to work on the railways when I was growing up in Bundaberg. I liked fishing, boating, diving and surfing. Initially, it was my ambition to get a job near the ocean.

Instead, I spent a year in the Army then enrolled in a business course. My father arranged for me to work with QR as a labourer and it’s gone on from there.   

After graduating to become a power linesman, I moved to Brisbane. I was a leading hand before I eventually moved into management. A team of traction linesmen now works under me on what is known as “a corridor of railways”.

I like my job. Vermin, rocks, whatever … nothing much surprises me."


Find out more about how to become a Traction Electrician by checking out our training pathways pages.