Colin England has a long history with trains. An avid lover of everything railway-related, Colin has been working with steam locomotives since he was 16 years old. More recently Colin has been volunteering his time with the Bellarine Railway, where he obtained his license to drive locomotives in 2005.
The railway is operated and maintained by volunteers like Colin, and he is just one of the many passionate people who get the locomotives on the tracks.
With more than a dozen trains in the railway’s care, it means there is considerable maintenance and upkeep required to ensure that customers get the best possible experience when riding in the X carriages.
Carriage Restoration on the Bellarine Railway
“We’ve still got carriages waiting to be restored to improve the customer experience,” Colin says on the matter.
These changes have been noticed and appreciated aboard the Blues Train, with several upgrades a feature of the locomotives in use for the event.
The ability to make these improvements all comes down to the number of hands-on-deck, of which the railway is in short supply.
“We’re short a train driver and we’re short a guard – really, we need everybody,” Colin says.
Volunteering for Beginners
For those with no experience working with locomotives, Colin explains it’s a simple process to get started. Volunteers will first undertake a safe-handling course, be put on a training roster and experience operating the train alongside a seasoned professional. A medical check-up will also be required for those wishing to drive the train to ensure they are fit to operate a large vehicle.
Working up to becoming a train driver at the railway can take anywhere between a few months to a few years, with steam engines generally taking longer due to the complexity of its operation.
“We need people who are happy to put in at least once a month, especially if you’re doing locomotive work,” Colin says.
“It’s a matter of whatever time you’ve got to put in that’s fine, however, the more technical the type of work the more we’d like them to be there to build on their skills.”
Positions with the Bellarine Railway
Volunteer positions as train guards, drivers and firemen, charter train hosts, special event staff, station staff and shop assistants are all available, catering to multiple areas of interest and experience for potential team members.
Colin also adds they are in need of specialist skills in the areas of carpentry, upholstery, landscaping and general maintenance.
Colin is extremely passionate about his role at the Railway, particularly about driving the Blues Train, one of the Bellarine’s most loved institutions. Volunteering approximately one shift per month, Colin makes sure he puts in a few requests for the Blues Train each year.
Driving the Blues Train on the Bellarine Railway
“I’ve driven the Blues Train, I’ll say dozens of times. If I can get on the Blues Train I probably do about four to five a year now,” Colin says.
“I become a passenger at least once or twice to understand what it’s like on the train, and the way I need to drive.”
It’s thanks to the hard-working, passionate and dedicated team at the railway that makes something like The Blues Train possible. The railway also hosts heritage train rides and ‘a day out with Thomas’.