An interview with Tizian Dähler
Just two weeks after his train driver exam, we join Tizian Dähler in the driver’s cab. After completing a bachelor’s degree in English and business administration at the University of Bern, the 26-year-old decided against further studies and instead to pursue his dream job.
Tizian, how does it feel to sit alone in the driver’s cab?
On the first day I was really nervous. Suddenly I was without the experience of all those who sat next to me during my training. Sometimes I look over and think – don’t you want to say something? And then I realise – oh, I’m alone. But it’s getting better and better, and I’m starting to enjoy it.
Why did you become a train driver?
As a little boy, I looked up to train drivers. And from an early age I had a model railway – actually I still have it. It has always fascinated me, I don’t know why exactly. So I decided against doing a master’s degree and changed my life all of a sudden.
And what do you say now you’ve finished your training – is being a train driver still a dream job?
It’s a tough job. When you have to get a train ready in the rain early in the morning, or when you work irregular shifts. But I like it. It is what I imagined it would be.
How did you find the training?
Thanks to university, I was still in the habit of learning, which was an advantage. I had no idea about the technology, so I had to learn a lot from scratch there. The main thing is that you are interested. But the driving regulations were really fundamental – that’s our bible.
You train drivers have your own bible then?
Well, we don’t pray to it, but it tells us what to do and what not to do; that you need to come to work rested, how to calculate a braking distance, what signals mean. It’s a complete work, about 1000 pages.
And now you know it by heart.
No, but the processes it describes; you need to have got to grips with those. If a fault occurs, I can’t say: Ladies and gentlemen, we have to wait for a moment while the train driver looks something up in his manual. But for cases that only occur rarely, we do have checklists provided.
How are theory and practice linked in the training?
That’s probably the most difficult thing of all – applying the theory in the field. At the beginning, you just watch the train drivers, observe, ask questions. It was only after about five months that I first had a go at driving. I have to say that the train drivers were very good to me. I was able to develop in a way that was right for me, because every train driver drives a little differently. For example, I like to drive with cruise control from time to time – some others never do that.
What do you need for the training?
You need to be able to work entirely independently. You can’t just approach a colleague like you would in an office and ask: What would you do now? On top of that, you of course need to enjoy working with technology and with the railway as an overall system. For example, you also have to understand a signal tower to some degree, so that you can work effectively with the dispatchers.
Will you be driving trains until you retire?
I don’t know about that. I’m basically fascinated by the railway, and there are other roles that interest me. But for the next few years, my job as a train driver is certainly not up for discussion.