Dear Diary....A life of a Trainee Train Driver

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richfoz84

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13 Oct 2018
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267
I’ve used a few different sites as suggested to me. I guess I’ll just keep trying until I pass or they stop letting me retry!
 

andyccfc

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12 Sep 2018
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So how come you’ve had to sit maths etc? Might have missed it, something to do with not having the gcse or equivalent confirmed? What if you’ve gone on to do a levels and degree, would you still have to sit these subjects as part of the apprenticeship?
 

SJN

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20 Oct 2012
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Location
Birmingham
So how come you’ve had to sit maths etc? Might have missed it, something to do with not having the gcse or equivalent confirmed? What if you’ve gone on to do a levels and degree, would you still have to sit these subjects as part of the apprenticeship?
For me, I left school a long time ago. Have no idea where my certificates are. If you can prove you have sufficient grades, then you don’t have to do them. We didn’t even do IT when I was at school.
 

Stigy

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6 Nov 2009
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4,236
So how come you’ve had to sit maths etc? Might have missed it, something to do with not having the gcse or equivalent confirmed? What if you’ve gone on to do a levels and degree, would you still have to sit these subjects as part of the apprenticeship?
I believe it’s GCSE grades or equivalent (that could be A levels - because these supersede GCSEs, or a level 3/4 apprenticeship having been undertaken before).
 

Coach Carter

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21 Sep 2018
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They wouldn't accept A levels or degrees, has to be a GCSE certificate or equivalent, so a previous functional skill pass etc. We couldn’t understand why A levels or degrees weren’t accepted.
This was over a year ago when they first brought the apprenticeship in so it could have changed.
 

SJN

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20 Oct 2012
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They wouldn't accept A levels or degrees, has to be a GCSE certificate or equivalent, so a previous functional skill pass etc. We couldn’t understand why A levels or degrees weren’t accepted.
This was over a year ago when they first brought the apprenticeship in so it could have changed.
Hi. No it’s still GCSE or equivalent.
 

andyccfc

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12 Sep 2018
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100
Thanks, best get digging!

edit: found them in the shed! 21 years ago, grade C in Maths gcse.
 
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SJN

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20 Oct 2012
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282
Location
Birmingham
Thanks, best get digging!

edit: found them in the shed! 21 years ago, grade C in Maths gcse.
I’m very jealous. You’ll probably still have to do the initial registration and computer tests. The exempt people in our group did. They take a while to accept the certificates. My whole week isn’t till May & I’m not looking forward to it.
 

Class360/1

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10 Feb 2021
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134
Location
Colchester
Last Edited: March 2021

Hello all!

I have been on the forums for some years and it has helped me exponentially to improve and finally get my trainee role at TPE. Many members on this forum helped me and I thought it could be interesting for those trying to become a driver (or other positions on the railway) some insight into the training I am going through.

I will do my best not to spam the thread and may simply update this original post. If anyone has any idea the best format for readability please do offer your opinion.

The journey so far...

I applied in mid 2020 for a role at Manchester Piccadilly with TPE and was nervous about doing my assessments again. I had completed them 2 years prior when applying to Virgin Trains but was told they were out of date...by 2 days. So I had to pass them all again!

They were split into two sections. The paper tests on one day, the computer tests and MMI another if I was successful. For the paper tests I was feeling very nervous and sick but once I got into it I was ok. The computer tests I was more confident about but I made THREE mistakes in the space of about 5 seconds thinking that little grey square was turning a darker shade each blink. I clicked the button three times in a row before stopping myself, taking a moment to breathe and slow things down. I am pretty sure if I had made another mistake that would of been it for me.

For being invited to the DMI, I believe there was an element of luck from here on as I selected the last date before Covid started being talked about.

I felt the DMI was formal, but also informal enough to relax, be myself and show them how much I am ready to be a train driver. I even had my brew with me! They asked about my gaps in employment, my personal life and issues (they were highlighted in my CV) and how I persevered in the face of adversity. They gave me the chance to speak honestly and to explain how my failures were positive in shaping the person I am today. They asked about what I knew about TPE, the values and infrastructure. What traction they use and to name a certain amount of stations.

After a second brew they begun to ask more formal questions. Give me a time when....tell me something else you have done similar to the role of a driver....What are the main qualities of a train driver (important one) etc.

At the end of the interview I asked good questions which I knew I wanted the answers to but also would open a dialogue. When I was leaving they said how impressed they were with me and that they had enjoyed the interview. For the first time in a long time I was feeling very good. I left the building smiling because I knew I had given my best interview probably in my life. But also because no matter what, TPE had seen me as a human and given me a fair chance.

The next day...I was offered the role of Trainee Train Driver!

Call me what you like but when I opened that email I cried. It was life changing for me and I could provide a good life to the woman who was by my side no matter what. I could start a family and have all the normal things I could only dream of before.

That same day I was offered a medical which I accepted and was on the train to Liverpool a few days later! After a successful medical I was offered a contract to sign and that was that!

Until Covid came along anyway....A week before starting everything came to a grinding halt. That was March 30th 2020....

We were told to stay at home until further notice while being paid. On the one hand this was terrible news. But on the other I had a newborn son and up until I write this now he is 10 months old. I have watched him grow and formed an amazing bond with him that I never had with my family. It has been fantastic....but daddy needs to get his key now!

Friday 29th January 2021

Today and yesterday were our first ‘real’ days as we started the apprenticeship doing functional skills and learning a bit about the phonetic alphabet. I think most people seemed to already know this being from police backgrounds etc. I struggled with this and it showed me I have a lot to catch up on. Even as a guard for ATW I never used it!

My functional skills diagnostics came back with some surprising results (for me anyway). Note that for the apprenticeship you need to gain Level 2 qualifications. If you have your original certificates for GCSE or higher in the subjects you are exempt from having to take the exams. My green slip was not accepted and so alas here I am.

Maths Level 2
IT Level 1
English Level 2 (barely gaining 52%....*grimace)

I will be taking a week in March to go into a classroom environment to get some extra learning. Honestly it’s been so many years I don’t know half of it! I thought I knew my way around a computer but there were questions on search engines which were looking for specific terms. Spreadsheets, formulas and a whole host of other things I have no clue about.

Its a good job I have 4 weeks at home again before the start of training to do some revision on the SkillsBuilder website provided. It is intuitive and quite enjoyable to use.

I will update and edit this to add detail as I go along! If anyone has any questions or comments feel free to post and I will update.

Tuesday 9th March 2021

Woohoo! I have finally started my training! This week we have been working on the functional skills for the apprenticeship. I am required to get a level 2 in Maths, ICT and English.

Monday was Maths and was quite difficult for me after not doing any of it since GCSE! I think most people will be fine here as you revise everything before you take your test in the afternoon.

The test is a computer based test split into two sections. A non-calculator section and a calculator allowed section. Topics covered are things like fractions, percentages, ratios, plans, conversions, angles, shapes, area and volume and BIDMAS.

I am waiting for my results. I believe I did terrible lol.

Today (Tuesday) was the first day of ICT and covered general IT use like search engines, input and output devices, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, MailMerge. There are further topics tomorrow I believe like Access. Then the tests! We will be given a set amount of tasks to complete using these different softwares and then saving, uploading them directly to the test.

I am certainly more comfortable with ICT than Maths! Wish me luck!

I was waiting for my train yesterday at Man Pic and when it fired up in the station and it was a 6 carriage, I must admit for a second I looked left, then right...and said to myself...”I’m going to be driving one of these!?”

There was something quite daunting about it. But I also know that I will be given the knowledge to succeed providing I do my best and work hard.

More over the next few days!

p.s. any questions please post them here rather than bombard my personal messages. A lot of them are the same and I simply do not have the time to reply to the same question over and over again. After all I am in training now!

Thursday 11th March 2021

Well it’s been another two days at The Hub working on my Functional Skills.
Yesterday (Wednesday) was the final day for ICT and we had taken the test. The tutor went through everything that we needed and as predicted my test consisted of added, sorting, calculating data in Excel. Layout and adding images in Word. Mail Merge and also how to send emails. It was a 2 hour test and I finished with plenty of time to spare.

I am STILL waiting for all my results so far while others have been given their results...patience....patience.

Today we had completed the first day of English. This was reading and speaking. To me this was the easiest day of the week so far. The test consisted of reading two articles and answering basic questions on them. Mostly scanning for information.

We then did a 5 minute presentation on a topic of choice followed by a group discussion. Tomorrow is the dreaded writing exam!

I have also been given confirmation that the real training begins Monday! Woohoo! I’m really excited to get going now after being at home for a year!

Friday 12th March 2021

I am writing this on the train home now. Functional Skills week is officially over!

Today I completed the writing tests for English. This wasn’t too bad. You are required to complete two types of writing. It could be an article, blog post, report, letter and possibly a few others I missed!
I had to write an article and a report. They give you a scenario and from that you write an imaginary text which incorporates the points they want you to cover.
I had a theme park being suitable for families and a report complaining about unsociable behaviour.

Monday is the actual start of Train Driver training. To say I am excited is an understatement!!!

Monday 15th March 2021

Today was the first official day of training. It was mostly an introduction to the course and what to expect.

Interestingly by the end of September-ish I should be out and about on my own! That’s crazy!

We are trying to get all our kit and rule book, workbook etc etc. We were supposed to have them by now but our class has been an unusual one due to Covid.

We will be learning to drive a 185 over the course. I have no idea if that’s good or not but will soon find out.
On a side not the hotel we are working from in the daytime is great. Free lunch, coffee and snacks. I’m going to put on a lot of weight before this is over.
Thanks for posting the us, I hope to be a train driver one day and has given me a good insight! Many drivers say that Desiro UK’s (includes train classes like the 185’s and 360’s) are very reliable trains.
 

TeaTrain

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13 Aug 2014
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476
@Class360/1 No problem! If it gives some people a little bit of a glimpse into the training and even inspires some to go for the role then great!

I am just worried about when the first page is ridiculously long. If an admin/ moderator reads this and has some suggestions please let me know!
 

Class360/1

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Joined
10 Feb 2021
Messages
134
Location
Colchester
@Class360/1 No problem! If it gives some people a little bit of a glimpse into the training and even inspires some to go for the role then great!

I am just worried about when the first page is ridiculously long. If an admin/ moderator reads this and has some suggestions please let me know!
Don’t worry, I’m sure the exams will be fine!
 

S-Car-Go

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Joined
19 Mar 2019
Messages
184
Thanks for posting the us, I hope to be a train driver one day and has given me a good insight! Many drivers say that Desiro UK’s (includes train classes like the 185’s and 360’s) are very reliable trains.
They are. Except when they aren't :lol: Me & my instructor had a transformer fail on us last week. Generally v good though. My manager said the brakes are particularly good at dealing with low adhesion.

Thanks @TeaTrain for the interesting read. Definitely mirrors what I began in late 2019 (and earlier with test and interviews!). Although we did apprenticeship functional skills after classroom training and before handling started (the TOC had just introduced the apprenticeship midway into our training). 10hrs into handling and lockdown happened. 8 months later(!) and we're back out again. Good luck with your continued training :D
 

Class360/1

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10 Feb 2021
Messages
134
Location
Colchester
They are. Except when they aren't :lol: Me & my instructor had a transformer fail on us last week. Generally v good though. My manager said the brakes are particularly good at dealing with low adhesion.

Thanks @TeaTrain for the interesting read. Definitely mirrors what I began in late 2019 (and earlier with test and interviews!). Although we did apprenticeship functional skills after classroom training and before handling started (the TOC had just introduced the apprenticeship midway into our training). 10hrs into handling and lockdown happened. 8 months later(!) and we're back out again. Good luck with your continued training :D
What train?
 

Arvi

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Joined
4 Aug 2020
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20
Location
Birmingham
I never knew about BIDMAS until my first test - which i failed
This is really fascinating stuff.

I was wondering what happens if one continues to struggle to pass say for example the maths?

Is it the end of the road for ones training and desire to become a train driver?

We have to bear in mind some of us may not be very good in this classroom setting but could be potentially excellent as drivers.
 

TeaTrain

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13 Aug 2014
Messages
476
Nope it’s separate from the actual Train Driving. You keep going until you pass. You have to pass it but there is no time limit.

I asked that exact question to my Manager and also TraindUp.
 

richfoz84

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Joined
13 Oct 2018
Messages
267
This is really fascinating stuff.

I was wondering what happens if one continues to struggle to pass say for example the maths?

Is it the end of the road for ones training and desire to become a train driver?

We have to bear in mind some of us may not be very good in this classroom setting but could be potentially excellent as drivers.

ive more of a desire to be a train driver. Less desire to pass funky skills maths. I do want the apprenticeship so I’ll keep trying but they give you 1 day on maths yet 2 days IT.. I’ve told them they need to offer more maths days if they want people like me to pass it.
Passing the train driver assessments and exams is far more important than passing the apprenticeship.. that comment is from the training school!
 

TeaTrain

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Joined
13 Aug 2014
Messages
476
No problem @Star S W 9

New update for the last week. The training is starting to get into the actual role now!

Please combine these two posts so as to bump the thread so others can read it. Thanks mods. Unfortunately there isn’t any other way to let people know I have updated my thread.
 
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