Jordan Ward

“Joining the railways was probably the best decision I’ve made.”
Man on country rail patform
Man on country rail patform

Operator Maintainer, Queensland Rail

Background: Bank worker

"When I was in high school, I did a school-based traineeship with the ANZ Bank. After leaving school, I did a bit of labouring before getting a position back at ANZ, working on the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast.

While on the Gold Coast, I had the opportunity to join the railways in Maryborough, a few hours north of Brisbane.

I spent 12 months on the track gang in Maryborough repairing tracks. Then another 12 months on the resurfacing team. Resurfacing is a way of maintaining the tracks. Now I’m on the resurfacing team in Toowoomba working anywhere from Toowoomba to Charleville. I work in blocks eight days on and then six days off.

For resurfacing, we operate two machines. If there’s a piece of straight track that has a swing or a wobble in it we lift up the track and straighten it so that the trains can run it over without any hiccups.

There are six in a gang: supervisor, team leader, fitter; and three operators. About 95 per cent of our work is away from home. They put us up in accommodation in cabins or motel rooms. They’re self-contained so we’re able to cook our own meals and do our own thing.

Working away was not easy to start with. When my partner and I had only one child, we made it work. But now, with a second child coming into the picture, it’s time to be home a bit more.

I’ve recently done a work, health and safety course. There’s a couple of old fellows who are going to pull the pin soon so a safety facilitator role could be on the cards.

There’s also a couple of apprenticeships available too. I could become a fully qualified electrician or a labourer, fixing track, operating machinery  … there’s plenty of avenues to take.

In the long term, I could become a supervisor or a planner/scheduler. Maybe I could get into a co-ordinator’s role.

I’m 29 next week and I’ve been in the railways for almost four years. Joining the railways was probably the best decision I’ve made. My goal is to have 40 years in the industry. I can’t see myself leaving."

Find out more about how to become an Operator Maintainer by  checking out our training pathways pages.