Rail enthusiast Ethan lives and breathes all things trains. His Mum, *Linda, says that ever since Ethan could talk, he has been fascinated by train journeys and loves train spotting at every station he passes.
Ethan has special needs and goes to respite care for a few days every week and he has fully involved both his mother and his respite carers in his rail passion as his favourite outings always revolve around trains. Ethan’s case worker heard about his love of trains and contacted MacKillop Family Services to see if it would be possible for Ethan to get to ride in a train cab alongside the driver. But V/Line and Metro trains were able to go one better when they arranged for Ethan to ‘drive’ a train using their state of the art simulator.
Ethan’s exciting day began when he and his Mum travelled to the V/Line train simulator training centre in Docklands. The centre includes two in-cab simulators which mimic the look and feel of a VLocity diesel multi-unit train. Used for training drivers, the simulators use CGI computer based technology to make the corridor virtually real, and a control room can vary signalling to match real world conditions.
Ethan was a natural behind the controls, taking everyone at V/Line by surprise at how quickly and confidently he took charge of driving and really impressing George, the supervisor,
“We’ve had trainee drivers who’ve taken longer to master all the different controls of the simulator! Ethan already knew every station on the line and could anticipate where we were approaching a station. He understood about all the safety cues we use to keep journeys safe and would make a fantastic driver” said George.
Ethan especially loved how conditions could be changed in the simulator and during his trip, he drove the train through sun, rain, hail and even snow! Talking about his experience, Ethan described his favourite part of driving,
“I had to watch very carefully at the stations to make sure all the people were on and off the train before I closed the doors.
“I also liked how you could feel the train slowing down when you pressed the brake and then you got to drive the train very fast out in the country between stations. But the best bit was blowing the whistle and waving to the drivers of the other trains you meet along the way. I’d love to be a train driver, it’s the best job ever.”
*Names changed for privacy reasons