An 11 year old schoolboy from Surrey swapped the classroom for a seat in the cab of a South Western Railway (SWR) train over the recent half-term holiday.
Luke is a train enthusiast, budding artist and uses SWR services as often as he can. He celebrated his eleventh birthday in style after being contacted by SWR Customer Experience Manager, Siobahn Neligan, to see if he wanted to ride up front on his favourite route. This was after Luke had taken the initiative and sent his artwork over to SWR along with a note asking how he could go about pursuing his dream of becoming a train driver.
In their response to Luke’s note, SWR told him: “To answer your questions, in order to become a train driver, you don’t need any formal qualifications but we do encourage you to work very hard at school to pass your exams. Here at South Western Railway, we value candidates who have achieved a good standard of education.
“We also look for very specific skills in a prospective driver, as they need to be able to concentrate for long periods of time while driving trains, but also have fast reactions if something happens.
“Safety is our number one priority at South Western Railway and all our drivers have to follow rules for everyone’s safety, as well as have good timekeeping and communication skills.
“We are always looking for our next generation of railway talent and appreciate your interest in becoming a train driver. We look forward to your application in a few years’ time.”
Then an offer of riding in the front of a Class 458/5 train from Staines to London Waterloo followed, which Luke quickly snapped up.
Alan Penlington, Director of Customer Experience for South Western Railway, said:
“We’re always happy to hear from train drivers of the future. Luke really enjoyed his time in the train cab on a route that I believe he has simulated many times before on his games console.
“Luke and his Dad also got a station tour from one of our operational standards managers and got the chance to marvel at the former Waterloo International Terminal which will reopen for passenger services later this year.
“We’re confident this isn’t the last we’ll see or hear from Luke and that he might one day wear the SWR uniform on the very same route he tried over the half-term holiday.”