SELECT GROUP: Train drivers Ian Notz, Nick Carter, Mark Scott and Peter Cohen are learning how to drive steam trains.
SELECT GROUP: Train drivers Ian Notz, Nick Carter, Mark Scott and Peter Cohen are learning how to drive steam trains. Contributed

Steam train school fires up its students

FOR Queensland train drivers, the chance to learn how to go back in time comes up every decade or so.

No, they can't turn back the clock. They do however get to relive a method of driving trains that has long been phased out across the world - steam train.

Earlier this week four Queensland train drivers finished the first step in the long road to becoming a steam train driver.

Peter Cohen, Ian Notz, Nick Carter and Mark Scott spent two weeks learning the theory of a role known as the fireman.

A fireman on a steam train has a very different job to the firemen most of us are familiar with.

They have to feed the fire that makes the train go, shovelling tons of coal into a boiler that can reach temperatures of up to 1400 degrees.

It is hot, dusty, physical work that controls the steam the train is dependent on.

Fireman-in-training Peter Cohen says the engine cab of a steam train is a world away from the air-conditioned modern rollingstock he is used to driving.

"There is a bit of an art to it," he said.

"There's nothing to really compare it to."

Mr Cohen took the chance to go to 'steam school' after growing up surrounded by a passion for trains.

His father working in the rail industry, including on steam trains, and his brother also became a train driver.

"I've been wanting to do this since forever," Mr Cohen said. "I just grew up in rail."

"I don't think there is anywhere else in the world where you get to do it for a job." Mr Cohen and his fellow trainees have now finished the theory side and will take on the practical training that will qualify them to work as firemen.

Queensland Rail chief operating officer Kevin Wright said they would continue their training at North Ipswich Railway Workshops for months.

The group they will eventually join is a select one.

Queensland Rail has only eight steam drivers and four firemen.



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