Nathan Hines

“Rail presents workers with so many different career pathways.”
Man wearing Transport for NSW lanyard standing behind a barrier  in front of a train in a station.
Man wearing Transport for NSW lanyard standing behind a barrier  in front of a train in a station.

Human Factors Specialist, Transport for New South Wales

Background: Train driver

“I’m a third-generation rail worker. I started as a trainee train driver with Sydney Trains. I loved it from day one and thought I’d be a driver for the rest of my life.

Since then, I’ve discovered so many other elements to rail I never knew existed. The rate of digital transformation means there’s even more change on the horizon presenting new roles and opportunities.

One of the great things about rail is that it presents workers with so many different pathways. I look at friends in other sectors and see how difficult it has been for them to move around.

I’ve always had very supportive managers who assisted whenever I considered transitioning roles.

I joined the rail organisation as part of a pilot program which offered an accredited Certificate IV in rail transport and distribution. It gave me exposure to many operational roles and meant that I became a qualified customer attendant, signaller and train guard before moving into the role of train driver.

I drove trains for seven years across the suburban and inter-city network. A workplace injury took me into the office environment, where my operational knowledge led to opportunities assisting projects. From there I moved into a safety professional role helping the organisation and rail workers manage the rail safety national law and work, health and safety legislative requirements.

Then an opportunity came up to work in the amazing world of human factors. That’s where I am now. My team has recently moved from Sydney Trains to Transport for NSW where we work with different modes of transport including the metro heavy rail system which is completely automated.

Automation is just one of the major changes happening in rail which will significantly influence rail operations.

I would say that the rail sector is having a real fork in the road moment. Of course, this means some roles are changing but it presents the chance to learn new skills. Signallers, for example, are moving from pulling levers to a more supervisory, cognitive overview of operations.

With so many new opportunities arising, it's such an exciting time to enter the rail industry, especially for anyone with a passion for rail and technology.”