Celebrating 40 years on the railway!

Thursday, 20 October 2022
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Coventry-based train driver, Danielle, celebrates 40 years on the railway.

After kick-starting her career in the railway industry back in 1981, it’s fair to say that our Birmingham New Street train driver, Danielle Morgan, has seen a lot of changes during her 40 years on the tracks.

From various job roles, multiple location changes, and station rebuilds, Danielle reveals all on the busy life of a train driver and what four decades on the railway has been like for her. And what’s more, she shares her story and life as a transgender person working in the industry, along with the support she has received from West Midlands Railway.

Danielle celebrating 40 years on the railway

School days

“When I was younger, I always had an ongoing interest in trains. Me and my friends from school would regularly head down to our local railway station and would spend the afternoon train spotting. I think it was this initial interest that led me to consider applying in the first place.

“After finishing school, my mum had told me it was time to start applying for jobs. I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do, but knew I needed to start earning. As I spent a lot of time at my local station anyway, I thought “why not” and sent in an application. At the time I lived in Norfolk, but my grandparents lived in Coventry, so I went ahead and applied in this area too.”

Danielle's first role

“My first role was very different to the one I am doing now – I started off as a junior railman a month before my 16th birthday. This basically meant I was the messenger in and around the station. Back then nobody had a phone, so it meant I had to grab my bike and cycle around delivering railway updates and messages to those who needed it.

“You were only allowed to do this role up to the age of 18, so once I had my 18th birthday, I changed roles and went on to become a carriage cleaner at Kings Lynn station. It was fun to be working alongside different people and I loved that we always helped each other – given it wasn’t a very big place.”

The journey to New Street station

“After working as a carriage cleaner for some time I applied to become a senior railman – which saw me shunt trains on both the passenger and freight side. From here, I changed job roles and locations several times starting as a leading railman at Lichfield, then leading railman general purpose relief at Coventry – which meant I covered platforms, parcels, ticket barriers, and shunting.

“After 18 months at Coventry, I then applied for a trainman job at Birmingham New Street in 1989 – this job was essentially a cross between a guard and a second man. Seven years later in 1996 I became a train driver – and I never looked back.”

Life as a train driver

“I never thought I’d get the job and become a train driver. When I initially applied, I went for my medical and at that point you didn’t know what job you’d got. I seriously never pictured me being given the good news.

“Trains started out as my childhood hobby, and now it is my line of work. I really do love the flexibility it gives me – pre-Covid I was able to travel abroad a lot which has been lovely. For anyone that is considering starting their journey on the railway or maybe even as a train driver, all I can say is just have a go – you never know where you might end up.”

Danielle West Midlands Railway train driver.

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