The tourist and heritage railways will be no doubt aware that the skills to operate and maintain our aging and historic equipment is becoming increasingly rare as those with the old knowledge begin leaving our heritage organisations as age creeps up, and overtakes them. Add to that the burden of ever increasing compliance conditions, regulatory and statutory requirements, and things are becoming difficult for the survival of some groups. Not only is the passing of old skills and knowledge happening in the T&H sector, but those institutions that we once relied on for training our  new members are no longer capable of providing these services to keep some form of continuity in our skills base. So while we can’t do anything about father time creeping up on our skilled and older members, we can do something about training and bringing new blood and life into the sector.

The coming skills shortage was recognised by the Australian Tourist and Heritage Railway Association around four years ago. They orchestrated a major project to create a set of training standards that would be common across the industry and meet with regulatory approval. Ideally competencies could be assessed without reference to an overriding Registered Training Organisation, while still working within the guidelines of the Australian Qualification Framework.

Funding for the project was secured through the former Standing Committee of Rail Transport Group. David Rumsey and Associates were engaged to produce the packages, which were mapped against national transport and logistics training packages where applicable, as well as from a range of other relevant training systems  from around the country.

The results are a set of documents structured as a template from which each T&H organisation can build their own packages specific to their type of operation. Those that already have a strong training regime can use the packages as a method to check their existing system. One immediate advantage for steam locomotive operation is that the system does away with the old three levels of boiler certificate that the department of training and industrial relations used to issue (which  were suited to powerhouse boilers!) – not to mention the abandoning the old ‘reciprocating steam engine’ certificate. These certificates were barely relevant to steam locomotive operation.

In the first instance, T&H organisations interested in reviewing the lesson plans should consult the Customisation Guildelines document, which is part of the total package. This gives the actual nuts and bolts (and far better explanation than I could give) of the way the system is intended to work.

To date the following lesson plans have been developed:

  • Diesel Locomotive Driver
  • Steam Locomotive Driver
  • Tram Driver
  • Second Person
  • Fireman
  • Guard
  • Train Examiner
  • Safe Worker

In each job type, the packages are divided into four separate documents:

  • Lesson Plan
  • Knowledge Checklist
  • Performance Checklist
  • Mentors Q and A

All the documents (.PDF Versions only) are available from the Training Page (a sub page of the Resources Page) on this site. Editable Word files are available to financial ATRQ members – details are on the Training page. ATRQ recommend that in order to preserve the integrity of the system, completed lesson plans should be validated through industry peers (more details to follow) and that assessments should be done by a person other than the trainees mentor, and who holds certificate IV in workplace training and assessment. ATRQ will maintain a database of suitable assessors who are prepared to make themselves available around the state to carry out such tasks. It should be noted that the system has been approved by the office of the Single Rail Regulator,Whose position takes affect from January next year.

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