Spotlight: What does an apprentice shunting locomotive driver do?


Spotlight: What does an apprentice shunting locomotive driver do?

Introducing Kevin Mack and Jonas Pigors-Schaper.

While train drivers focus on getting trains from A to B, shunting locomotive drivers have a much wider range of tasks. In addition to train testing, they also compile wagon lists, keep track of journey routes, serve customer sidings and communicate with the end customer. Kevin and Jonas are currently learning all this in their apprenticeships at DB Cargo.

Do something practical

Both apprentices knew from an early age that they wanted to drive a locomotive when they grew up. Despite being advised to go to university, they both held on to their childhood dream: "I wanted to do something practical and decided on an apprenticeship," Jonas says. For Kevin, too, it was clear: "When the apprenticeship was advertised, I applied straight away."

A leading employer in the sector

The pair chose DB Cargo due above all to the variety compared to other rail companies, some of which are highly specialised. "On top of that, DB is a secure employer and offers more career options later on," says Kevin. For Jonas, Deutsche Bahn was the obvious choice. It was not until later that they decided to join DB Cargo instead of learning to drive regional or long-distance trains. 

The first solo drive: a unique experience

Although the apprenticeship was quite challenging at first, Jonas does not regret his decision for a moment. He advises future apprentices: "Putting things off while learning doesn't work. It's a recipe for disaster. You can't just try to memorise things either, because you have to understand the connections. But the hard work is worthwhile when you get to drive a train yourself for the first time. It's just so cool!" Kevin adds that young people need to be passionate about the job, in order to be able to handle things like shift work. "I don't see it as a problem, it's part of the variety of the job."

Spreading the word

Both apprentices find it a shame that many school leavers are largely unaware of what vocational training at DB Cargo can offer. Although job fairs are a good start, they believe the company should advertise itself directly in schools. Apprentices like them are the best ambassadors for presenting the benefits of working at DB Cargo. Jonas has already tried this out at his former school: "It went down well. Many didn't even know what Deutsche Bahn had to offer, including things like a housing stipend for your own flat if you live too far from the site."

Profile: Kevin Mack and Jonas Pigors-Schaper
Jonas Pigors-Schaper and Kevin Mack

How did you find the start of the apprenticeship?

Kevin: It was just as I expected it to be. I had prepared quite extensively, so there were no real surprises.

Jonas: In the beginning it was a bit overwhelming. There are so many things you have to pay attention to in railway operations that I did not expect. That is partly due to the fact that we learn lots of additional things in the shunting locomotive driver apprenticeship that most train drivers do not.

What are your goals for the future?

Kevin:I want to go on to train new colleagues later on and share my love for the railways. That is my main goal. After that, I'll see what other doors open.

Jonas: First of all, I want to complete my apprenticeship. After that, I definitely want to continue my professional development. I can imagine becoming a permanent way inspector. Or maybe working as an instructor.