I am currently thinking about volunteering at SteamRanger, but before I send them an email, I have a question for active volunteers on this site.
In regards with what I would like to do at SteamRanger, I would like to be involved with train operations, eventually becoming a Steam Locomotive driver (though I realise that will be many years away). However, I was looking at their handout on their website, and it says that train drivers are sourced from the maintenance crew working on the steam locomotives, but Guards are usually experienced station masters, who start out as passenger attendants. Can someone please tell me if this is correct?
I am an active volunteer with steamranger, also a trainee fireman. To get into the cab it is expected that you do some work etc around the mechanical workshops to learn how things work and learn a bit about the trains. Once you are seen to be competent and enthusiastic around the workshops and you commence your railway safeworking/shunting training, you will eventually become rostered on the foot plate as a trainee, as you become more proficient and gain road knowledge, and complete more of steamrangers internal exams, the loco crew will let you perform more duties on the locomotive. Generally you will handle the cockletrain duties first as this is a more forgiving section of track. The Hill section will be your last part to learn. Once you have qualified and are competent with good rout knowledge you can commence your driving training.
While most of the training is provided in house, there are a number of expensive external industry courses that you will need to fork out yourself. One being the boiler ticket, and the other being the reciprocating steam engine ticket. However you dont need these straight away. And you must also be medically fit and healthy (be expected to have a medical examination), and also free of all drugs and alcohol as there are some government requirements in this matter if you want to do any safeworking role i.e. guard, SM, traindriver/fireman, railcar driver etc.
Whilst this wont take forever dont expect it to happen overnight either.
And by all means this is not the only way to get your foot onto the trains, as peter said above you can take the rout of a guard, or there is a railcar driver rout as well, and some people take on more than one role.
If you want to know more just ring the number on the website and somebody there will put you into contact with the right person/s in the organisation.