Margaret Fisk

“I swapped from being a full-time mum to being a train driver ... now I'm a driving instructor."
Woman on railway platform
Woman on railway platform

Driver Instructor, Public Transport Authority, WA

Background: Retail

"I had a fascination of trains when I was younger. But when I left school I trained as a pastry cook and then worked in retail before becoming a full-time mum to two children.

I was thinking about returning to work, when I saw an advertisement looking for people to train as train drivers. It was a complete career change, which I was looking for. And the job description fitted.

That was 15 years ago. Now I’m a driver instructor. I work in the classroom and one-on-one with new drivers out in traffic. I also work as an Acting Driver Coordinator.

To be a driver you have to be fairly mechanically minded. Good drivers also have to be vigilant and have good concentration.

They need to have good problem-solving skills because there may be problems with the railcars that need immediate attention on track, such as repairing a valve or doing a circuit breaker.

Drivers also need to be good communicators. Network Control are constantly talking to you and there’s often interaction with the public.

Driving hasn’t really changed much over the last 15 years. The network has expanded but the mechanics of it have pretty much stayed the same.

Driver training includes 14 weeks in the classroom and then 14 weeks in traffic one-on-one, so the relationship between instructors and drivers can get pretty intense. New drivers are then given a three-day assessment on track and are reviewed once a month for the first three to six months.

After that, appointed drivers get reviewed every six months. And every two years return to the classroom to re-sit exams. So, it’s not just a case of getting your ticket, you have to stay up-to-date with driving qualifications.

There’s a massive shortage of driver trainers at the moment. I’m encouraging all drivers to take this step. It’s really rewarding with plenty of job satisfaction.

The new recruits come from such diverse backgrounds. And working one-on-one closely for 14 weeks means you really get to know people.

It does require good work ethics and patience. At the moment, I feel I’ve got the best of a few different worlds. I know I’m a good driver and I love instilling those techniques into the drivers I’m training.”


Find out more about how to become a train driver by checking out our training pathways pages.