Queensland Rail recently celebrated the milestone anniversaries of three City network station staff employees.
Roy, Rodney and Richard tell us below about their wonderful time and experience of working with the organisation.
Roy Waddy - Assistant Station Master at Petrie
I left high school when I was 15 years old and joined the railways following in my father’s footsteps. My dad joined when he was discharged from the army after the war and he suggested I join so I walked into the Railway Admin office on the corner of Edward and Adelaide Streets, which was the main railway building back then, and I asked for a job. The railways signed me to a three month probation and then permanency after that.
My first job was lad porter in the dispatch office. It was my job to take letters and memos to other offices and stations on the network.
I have always worked in station operations from when I was at Northgate for about two years and then I went on the relief as a porter for another 12 months. I asked if I could have a go at doing the station masters exam so I was transferred to Albion where the Station Master Ted McCormack showed me how to run a station properly and he taught me station accounting and freight invoicing.
Then when he and I thought I was ready I applied to do the exam. Back then the exam consisted of sitting in the General Managers secretaries office where you were given a full shift of eight hours to answer 120 questions.
As all the answers had to be written out you were supplied with paper, pencil and rubber. I’m happy to say I passed first go.
When I started the steam trains were still the main mode of transport, then the diesel trains took over, then the electric train. Also there were no computers for us we all had to use brain power.
In the old days freight was a big revenue provider for the railway so passenger ticket sales and service took second place. If there was a freight train to load or unload or a truck with freight we would close the office and attend to the freight. Shunting of trains and loading and unloading of goods were an everyday job.
Nowadays safety controls our everyday life and I am glad to say this is one exceptionally great policy. I wish it was thought of 50 years ago.
Queensland Rail is now a customer service focused company and as such we must do our best to keep our customers happy. I think we do a good job at this as 95% of customers are happy with our service. I don’t believe we can ever get 100% satisfaction as the old saying goes you can please some of the people some of the time but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.
After passing the station masters exam I then was transferred to the Mackay relief for a short time then promoted to the south west relief home station Toowoomba where I stayed for a couple of years. The experience I got being out of the suburban area and in the bush where you had to do all the station work and make all the decisions for yourself was an eye opener, because in those days the small country towns relied on the rail for their lively hood as all their freight, goods and most of their food stuffs came by rail. Now days it is all road transport.
I remember when I worked at a small station called Muckadilla and when I tell some of our younger employees their first reaction is mucka, who then I show them an old map, which is displayed in the office at Petrie and they are convinced.
I’ve always said if you like the job you’re doing and you do it well and don’t make waves it should last for as long as you can do it.
In the not too distant future my wife and I will become grey nomads for a couple of years, so we can are looking forward to touring Australia in our caravan and seeing all the sights. Then if we are still able do some overseas jaunts.
My biggest and greatest highlight of my railway career was meeting my wife while I was a porter at Albion she worked at the old flour mill and I’d see her most days when I was shunting wagons in the mill siding, I got up enough nerve to ask her out and in those days you had to get the girl’s parents permission also if the girl was interested, this I did and the rest is history. I have now been married for 44 years, have two sons, seven grandchildren and one great grandchild. Thanks Queensland Rail.
Rodney Cowles - Assistant Station Master at Bray Park
The job at Queensland Rail was suggested to me when I was getting my haircut by a barber who said that his son was working in the railways. There was no apprenticeships back then so I decided to apply for a role.
I remember my first day of work as a Lad Porter. My father drover me to South Brisbane station where I met the Roster Clark George Heights. Back then South Brisbane station had a lot of ticket clerks.
The other roles I’ve held at Queensland rail include gate counting at Morningside, station staff member at Cannon Hill from 1977 to 1979, number taker at Mayne Yard keeping record of all the train wagons, number taker at Northgate from 1980 to 1983 and Station Officer at Bray Park for two years.
When I first joined the job as a Lad Porter we used to spend half our day walking around town collecting baggage which included train notices and correspondence. Now everything is doing much more efficiently which means you can spend more time on customer service and personal safety.
During my time here I have been recognised for a number outstanding customer service accolades. I can recall this one occasion in the year 2000 when I recovered a son’s lost teddy and that felt nice being able to give back to customers.
I have a good relationship with my customers and even had one of my regular customers help take this photo, which you’re seeing me in today. I love how they always come and have a chat and keep the community spirit.
Working and having a permanent job at Queensland Rail has been important to me help support my family. I’ve lived in Lawnton for 31 years have been married most of my life and I’m now excited to be a grandad for the first time soon.
You get a good feeling in this job. It’s something that I love and enjoy, especially the comradeship with the other staff and customers. You have to work with people as a team.
I’m still happy with the job I do. It can be very rewarding. I believe you should have a positive outlook when you come to work and anything in life. Everyone has problems but what’s special about working at Queensland Rail is that they look after you and so you couldn’t get a better company to work for.
Richard Mercer - Customer Service Attendant at Fortitude Valley
I started my employment at Indooroopilly on 2nd December 1975 for 12 months then worked at Redbank as a number taker, taking a list of goods train in the yard. I then worked at Ipswich for 17 years and went out on the Brisbane relief for a short time at Toowong where I stayed for 10 years and eight years into that worked at the Ipswich ticket office for about seven months. I’ve most recently been at Fortitude Valley for about three years.
I remember on my first day of work the person I was taking over from said he lived at Wulkuraka. At the time I didn’t have a clue where that was, however I soon learn it was up past from Ipswich.
For me, safety has improved greatly now from 40 years ago when I first started. There are now a lot less injuries.
Good customer service is important to me as I believe it is part of our duties to give customers the best understanding of how to travel to their destination safely. I will never forget this one particular customer who I met while working at Oxley station. The gentleman was from overseas and visiting Brisbane at the time and had asked me what was around to do, so I gave him many suggestions. I was so surprised to have received a big thank you letter with a very thoughtful note from the man thanking for helping with his holiday. I remember this made me feel good because I could help a customer with information they wanted to know for travelling around Brisbane.
One thing I remember from my Ipswich working days as a 20 year old Porter was a job I was given to act as a guard on an overnight camp trip for the rail motor from Ipswich to Toogoolawah. It was very cold in winter. However, I found doing that job a great experience.
What I’ve most enjoyed about working at Queensland Rail is the comradery with other staff and that has made it easy to work here. I never thought I would have been in the railway for this long, but I love the job and the people I have met.