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Train driving in the Goods Shed

02 Aug 2018

Train driving in the Goods Shed Image

It’s a lovely coincidence that the state’s V/Line train drivers are being instructed in the Goods Shed North, a spiritual home of Victoria’s railways.

The Docklands railway shed was built in 1889 and, back in the day – before being cut in half to make way for Collins St – was the longest shed in the southern hemisphere.

Today the sheds (both north and south) are home to a number of disparate organisations and businesses – among them V/Line.

Driver training and development manager Brad Sullivan oversees the professional development of a squad of about 70 at any one time. Currently, trainees spend only about 15 to 20 per cent of their time in one of two Velocity train cab simulators on site.

“We hope to build this to about 25 to 30 per cent of classroom time over the next two or three years,” Mr Sullivan said.

Unlike a drivers’ licence, which enables a driver to take to any road at any time, train drivers are trained specifically for each line.

The Goods Shed North simulators were introduced to teach drivers to navigate part of the multi-billion-dollar Regional Rail Link – between Southern Cross and Little River. But V/Line hopes to extend the offering to other lines in the future.

And if it looks like fun, be reassured – it is.

Docklands News was able to take control of a three-car Velocity train and safely arrive at Sunshine station. But there’s a lot to think about. There are doors to open and close, horns to blow, signals and speed limits to obey and, of course, a timetable to adhere to.

The simulator is very realistic, with the drivers seat moving in reaction to acceleration and cornering. The train is big, it’s strong and it’s smooth – coasting down the slightest incline without any power being applied.

Mr Sullivan said trains were many times more efficient than rubber-tyres vehicles because they not impaired by as much friction.

The site was chosen for the simulators because of its amenity and close proximity to Southern Cross Station. It’s a happy coincidence that it links with the birth of railways in Victoria.

Docklands’ Good Sheds are a shining example of how heritage buildings can be respected while restored and repurposed to serve the present. And driving a train inside them is a curious connection between the past and the here-and-now.

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