Trams are now being tested along the full tram route from Edinburgh Airport to York Place. Our drivers are currently training between the airport and Edinburgh park but soon they’ll be out learning the full route.
Dale Buchanan, who was recruited last year as one of the 40 drivers on the route was interviewed by the Council’s Magnet magazine recently. Dale later became an instructor as well as a driver, and now trains up new recruits.
What’s your background?
I used to work as a go-kart mechanic in Livingston, so this is a complete career change for me.
I think I’m probably similar to a lot of staff we’ve recruited: people have done all kinds of different jobs in the past. We have everything from radio workers to window sales people here.
What was the recruitment process like? And what skills do you think you bring to the job?
The interview process itself was pretty tough: there were about 600 applicants for 40 posts. There were concentration tests looking at quick responses, general communications, maths, English. A lot of the interview was about confidence too, and your ability to stay calm under pressure.
There was a massive health and safety element to my previous job – and with this role being so safety-critical – I think a lot of that helped to give me the edge.
What does the tram testing consist of?
We’re currently running a mini timetable between the Depot and Edinburgh Airport. [the training timetable run has since been extended to Edinburgh Park Station]
We’re doing a whole range of infrastructure tests – for example, testing the traffic lights signals, passenger comfort tests, the works. We’re also testing our operational processes and emergency procedures
You’re also one of the driving instructors. How does that work?
When trainees first join, they undergo an initial two weeks of training where they learn the basics of how the trams operate and how to drive within the depot. On passing this stage, they then learn how to drive out on the main line. The training is a mixture of both classroom based theory together with a strong emphasis of practical experience.
The role of the driver instructor is to use our experience to provide coaching to the trainees to help them further develop their tram driving skills.
It’s no secret that the construction phase had its problems prior to mediation. What’s the morale like now that we’re getting closer to a launch date?
Everybody here is looking to the future. Our attitude is: “that was the construction side, so now let’s show you what Edinburgh trams can actually do.”
You can see the passion in here – from drivers right up to management – everybody is behind it. When we go out driving now to Edinburgh Park, the amount of people you see waving, taking photographs, is really encouraging.
(This article originally appeared in the Jan/Feb 2014 issue of Magnet magazine).