#myjob : train attendant
Every day, around 1,000 passenger and goods trains travel on the Luxembourg rail network. An increasing number of people are turning to public transport, and trains in particular, to escape the everyday stress of their daily commute. They are accompanied on their journeys by members of the CFL train crew. Brandon, 28 years old, is one of those crew members who, day in day out, are there for customers on board the trains. We asked the friendly crew member a few questions.
How did you come to work as a member of a train crew?
I have already followed many paths in my working life. After completing my CATP (school-leaving qualification in Luxembourg), I had to find a job in the middle of the financial crisis so that I could support myself. During this time, I was able to gain an insight into a wide range of jobs, whether as an allocation assistant in the accounting sector or as a casual worker in a Luxembourg supermarket chain. One thing was important to me: I didn’t want to laze around, I wanted to work. Soon afterwards, I signed up with the Luxembourg army. However, after 4 years I wanted more than they could offer me. A family friend then told me about working as a train crew member. My first reaction was: train crew member? Don’t they just stamp tickets? I was amazed when my friend told me everything that the role of a train crew member entails. He aroused my interest and I then immediately applied for the role of train crew member on jobscfl.lu.
What does a normal day look like?
My shift usually starts at Luxembourg-City, Bettembourg or Pétange. The first thing I do is check which trains I will be on during my shift. I am always being assigned to different trains. As a result, I travel across the whole country, and also sometimes to France, Germany or Belgium. It is also important to me personally to be up-to-date about any disruptions and future engineering works. That is the only way I can ensure that I will be able to answer my customers’ questions. Then I switch on my multifunctional device, which I have nicknamed Tamagotchi, and enter my train number. Using this machine, I can inspect the various forms of digital tickets and sell tickets on the train. After that, there is what many people associate with my job: setting the date on the punch I use to validate the paper tickets. But that happens rarely, because anyone who wants to travel by train should only get on a train with a valid ticket.
But what do many people not associate with the job of train crew member?
Even though it may seem funny to some people – checking tickets is not our top priority. Safety and customer information are always a priority for us as train crew members and thus account for the majority of our work. To guarantee the safety of our customers at all times, we, the train conductors, thoroughly double-check especially important safety features before departure. Do the doors open, close and secure properly? Have the stepboards fully extended – and, above all, have all of them extended? Is our rolling stock clean and ready for our customers? Dirty patches that may have formed during earlier trips on the same day could cause our customers to slip. To minimise this risk of injury, in such cases we immediately contact the control centre, which then organises a cleaning crew as quickly as possible. On some trains, a so-called brake test also has to be carried out. This is where we, together with the engine driver, check whether the rolling stock brakes are in full working order. In addition, we help customers to get on and off the train and make sure that they don’t injure themselves. Just before the train pulls away, I once again check whether the signal box has given us permission to depart or continue our journey, loudly notify its imminent departure with a whistle and inform the engine driver via a key-operated switch that the train is ready to depart.
But are you always there for your customers during the journey?
Of course, that’s part of my job. During my rounds I make sure that my customers are happy. It is important to recognise problems straight away and to react as quickly as possible, or to help. If I notice that there is something wrong with one of my customers, I go up to him and ask whether I can help. If things are getting rather noisy on the train, I am happy to mediate in any minor argument. To do this, I can make use of a few tips and tricks that I learned in my training.
So does customer information play an important role in your job?
Definitely. On the train, I am the person who travellers turn to when they have questions – whether about possible connections, engineering works and the rail replacement service available, questions about national or international tickets, etc. On board I am also responsible for the announcements on the trains. For example, if a train has to make an unscheduled stop, I inform my customers about it as quickly as possible and keep them up to date until the situation is back to normal. The same applies to any closures of the various train lines. Customers want to be informed of them in good time, too. On board the trains that is my job.
You have now been doing your job as a train crew member for two and a half years. What do you like about your job?
What I especially like about my job is that it is never boring. I travel through the most beautiful parts of the country by train, meet a variety of people with very different needs. My work is multi-faceted, I can work independently and have responsibility. I share my experiences with my colleagues and, at the same time, learn from their experiences. It is a job that I like doing and, because of this, I’m guaranteed to go to work afresh every day with a smile on my face.
A final question: when you have encountered so many people in such a short time you are bound to have seen a few things! Is there anything that you remember particularly?
For some time now, the same woman has been getting on the train at the same station. She always has her beloved dog with her and a particularly heavy bag. It’s a given for me that I should help the woman with her bag. Now that I have helped her a few times, the nice lady not only thanks me with a smile every time, but also with a piece of chocolate.