Shunting trains around can be tricky at times. There are all sorts of little things which can really throw a spanner in the works. In an ideal world all drivers have recent experience of doing all moves with trains. That’s the ideal world, you understand? Real life never works out like that. In this sort of job six months is considered enough time to forget the important stuff and if you haven’t done a move in that time then it’s perfectly ok to ask for a pilotman to accompany you. In this way you get trained again.
Of course, if you are new then you haven’t had time to do the moves the first time around. We’re not actually fully trained on every shunt move but we know how the basics work and can work out the rest. We have books with line diagrams in and guidance just in case there’s something peculiar about a move and if the worst comes to the worst we call in and request help. That last option is generally one we want to avoid though!
The ideal way to find out about shunt moves is from other, more experienced drivers. I did so this evening when I was taking a train somewhere weird for the first time. I brought the train into a platform, evicted the passengers and started to wander down to the other end. I met another driver who stopped to say hello and enquire where I was off to with the train. I took the opportunity to ask a question about my impending shunt move and he kindly gave me all the information I needed. It took only a minute but was very reassuring and it’s that sort of thing which helps drivers to not make mistakes.
It does cause a teensy delay in the train departing the platform although not sufficient to effect any trains running through. Just enough for the signaller to call to the train on platform one and enquire whether there was a problem. I assured the signaller that there was no problem and that I was just off. The other driver then decided to explain to the signaller that he was just running through a move with me and making sure I knew it. With that the signaller was happy and closed the window. Sometimes, we’re very, very lo tech. 😀