Third and last chapter of interview with Jools, a loco driver in UK:
How privatization done in UK?
The privatisation in the UK is done on a franchise basis, therefore each region or route may have a different operator. The government owns the company Network Rail who own and maintain the infrastructure, although at one point this was also privately owned too(Railtrack). Franchises last from 7 to 20 years or so, and the operator typically pays the government a premium each year in return.
What has changed by privatization?
A positive from the privatisation is that the levels of service are far better in many places than they used to be. However this comes at a price for the user, as they are run for profit opposed to being run as a service in my opinion.
What does this mean for people?
Rail travel in the UK is at an all time high, and as a result overcrowding is becoming a big issue. Some lines, mainly in the South East, are running at almost full capacity now, so no more services can be operated without infrastructure improvements.
What has changed for loco drivers?
Simple answer: wages and conditions. Typically the wages are higher than they used to be, although for this conditions are a lot more flexible than they used to be. This includes longer working days and more movement from rostered times. As a driver we earn more, and typically work less hours than we did previously, although the job is vastly different in a private sector, being more cost orientated.
The other thing that has changed a lot is the variety of work. With each private company concentrating on one area or route the drivers are usually working the same route with the same type of train all the time. We used to have a good variety of work when it was BR, doing freight or passenger trains to different destinations on different days, but this has all gone now.
What about the training?
The whole driver training system changed from 1988 when secondmen were no longer required. Since then it has become far more classroom orientated, with the candidates learning more this was than by experience. Once they have done the classroom work they are put with a qualified driver for a period of time (a few months) who supervise their train handling and observance of the rules etc. Following this they will take a final exam. This typically takes around 10 months from start to finish as I understand it.
You had long travel by trains in Turkey. How is your experience?
I thoroughly enjoy my journeys around Turkey, with the majority of the trains being clean and comfortable, and the staff friendly. The online booking system allowing me to see what was available is fantastic when planning journeys.
You were one of the few to use “tren tur kart”?
Shame about the issues booking sleepers with the tren tur karts!
What about the sleepers? Did you enjoy long journeys with them?
The sleeping coaches were excellent. The restaurant cars are very good, if a little frustrating at times with the lack of stock of some options. The pullman coachers were comfortable, so all in all very happy with the accommodation.
I look forward to my next visit! I think the scenery is excellent and thoroughly enjoyed watching the world go by the window!
Photo and interview: Onur Uysal