On the right track to re­tire

The Invercargill Eye - - FRONT PAGE - RE­BECCA MOORE

As a young boy, Gavin Mor­ti­more re­mem­bers be­ing in­ter­ested in the steam and the smell of train en­gines at­tend­ing rail­way pic­nics with his dad.

Af­ter leav­ing school he went into farm­ing for a few years be­fore re­al­is­ing his true pas­sion was with trains.

Af­ter a med­i­cal check and sim­ple test, he got a job at Ki­wiRail as a 19 year old, and started al­most straight away in the lo­co­mo­tive depart­ment, paid 88c an hour, in 1971.

Now af­ter 47 years Mor­ti­more has re­tired. He served his last day on Fri­day.

Through­out the years he had achieved a lot and seen many changes in the in­dus­try, he said.

Start­ing out, he was sent to Lums­den to work as a cleaner on the Kingston Flyer, but in 1976 he got his sec­ond grade driver’s ticket to drive freight trains.

Then af­ter two years ex­pe­ri­ence he gained his first grade ticket to drive pas­sen­ger trains.

‘‘It took seven years to go from the pol­ish­ing boy to get my driv­ing ticket.’’

Later in 1985 he also got his steam driver’s ticket.

Things in the 70s and 80s were dif­fer­ent to re­cent years though.

Back then there were more so­cial events, in­clud­ing sports tour­na­ments and dances.

The main rea­son for the drop in ac­tiv­i­ties was the staff re­duc­tions over time.

When Mor­ti­more started in the lo­co­mo­tive depart­ment there were 48 staff in In­ver­cargill but now there are eight.

How­ever, he still be­lieved the peo­ple were what kept him in the in­dus­try so long.

‘‘It’s the peo­ple you work with that makes the job go round ... there’s lots of char­ac­ters in the in­dus­try.’’

As well as staff cuts, some train lines had closed down in the re­gion and he had seen tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance­ments that im­pacted the in­dus­try.

There were new rules and reg­u­la­tions, and health and safety stan­dards were cracked down on too, he said.

Af­ter hav­ing five work­mates killed on the job, there was more train­ing, and staff had to be re­cer­ti­fied ev­ery two years.

‘‘It’s a good idea. This in­dus­try is not for­giv­ing if you have an ac­ci­dent.’’

Af­ter re­tir­ing, he was most look­ing for­ward to giv­ing up night shifts, and had plans for hol­i­days and fam­ily time.


Gavin Mor­ti­more has re­tired from Ki­wiRail af­ter 47 years as a driver.

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