A Day In The Life Of... ...............................
Only five per cent of train drivers in the UK are female and Alison Miller, 42, is one of them. She’s also the Women’s Equality Representative for Scotland...
Inever considered a career in the railway before I applied, although I did volunteer at Bo’ness and Kinneil Preservation Railway with my husband who is a volunteer driver and signaller there. A friend told me about a train driving job so I decided to apply to see what happened. The recruitment process is long and it isn’t easy – there were thousands applying for the job!
The highlight of my career was driving my first solo service after 18 months of training.
My first day was nerve-racking but I couldn’t stop smiling. It was just like driving a car on your own for the first time, with no one to hold your hand.
I love the variety that comes with being a train driver.
I have a new route every day so I drive many different trains and start and finish at different times, no two days are the same.
Everything is very precise in the railway – it’s all down to the minute.
At the moment my earliest start time is 4.06am so for that shift I get up at 2.30am and aim to leave the house just after 3am. On those days I will make sure I’m in bed for 5pm!
Before I leave I shower, wash my hair, and get dressed.
Then quickly put my make-up on and make something to eat. If I am backshift I take my dogs a walk and maybe do some housework.
What I do varies day-to-day as I am also the Women’s Equality representative for Scotland.
Part of this role is to promote the railway and, specifically, train driving to women who make up less than five per cent of drivers in the UK, I would love to see this rise to 50 per cent. Most people are shocked that a woman is driving their train. Once a man said to me: ‘Oh, they let women drive trains now’. I would like to see more diversity in train driving.
Because I work in a safety critical role, the length of my shift dictates my break.
If I work for between six and nine hours I get a 30-minute break between the 3rd and 5th hour of my shift. However, if it’s over nine hours I have a 40-minute break between hours four and six. Also my break could be at another depot, not just at Glasgow Central, so I have to bring food in with me. It’s usually leftovers from the night before – chicken curry for breakfast!
At the moment I don’t finish any later than half past one in the morning. I’m an eighthours-sleep type of person and make sure I get a full eight hours.
I wanted to be a vet when I was younger, I still love animals.
At the moment I have six rescued cats and three rescued dogs! I have volunteered for animal charities in the past and I try to attend charity events as often as possible.
Before I became a train driver, I worked in social work.
I quit my job to go to Strathclyde University at the age of 25 to study Geography and Scottish Studies. Then I worked for Strathclyde Police as a Criminal Intelligence Analyst. I have done many jobs, but train driving is my career, and it’s the best career move I have ever made.
My friends and family think that it’s cool that I drive trains.
I get five days off every three weeks so where possible I like to try and spend time with them and travel. I also like taking my dogs for a walk, or going to the gym too.
Most people don’t believe me when I tell them I am a train driver.
Then they normally ask me how much I earn! I think that the best careers advice I can give anyone wanting to be a train driver is: don’t give up!
The thing I love most about Scotland is... The people! It’s great being out and about every day meeting all sorts of people from different walks of life. Fave drinking spot...
Oran Mor, Glasgow. Fave childhood memory of Scotland... Going to Sunday markets at Ingliston and East Fortune. Biggest misconception about Scotland... We are a skinflint, crabbit,irn Bru-drinking nation. It’s beautiful and holds lots of happy memories for me.
Alison said most people don’t believe her when she tells them what she does for a living