A day in the life of a train manager

speeding train

Written by Fraser Stockwell

Read time clock icon

4 min read | Published 30 April 2024

My name is Fraser Stockwell, and I'm a third-generation railwayman. My Grandfather was a signalman at Hitchin in the 70s, and my father was a guard at Hitchin working for British Rail. He then moved to Virgin Trains at Euston before finishing his career at GBRF. My brother also works on the platforms at Euston. As my GP once said to me, "so how many of you Stockwell’s actually work on the railway?"

I began my career at the ticket office at Euston at the age of 18 in 1998, I then became a Train Manager in 2002.

My role involves safety, revenue, and customer service. The last being my favourite part. If I can help someone, I will. Safety of course is very important, vigilance on the railways is an absolute must. Keeping customers safe, they will always look to you for information if they need it.

My day as a Train Manager begins the same as every other. I sign on for my shift, sign for any notifications and check rosters and any alterations for any given day. I then go to the cash office to collect a ticket machine and camera, and head down to the train.

When I arrive to the train, I head straight for the office to check the reservations on that specific service have downloaded correctly, and then walk down to first class to see the catering crew to check in before we depart. On some services, we don't have standard premium, so I would liaise with the crew and time depending, help them with antimacassars. I would look to do this if I'm there particularly early - we're all a team onboard. When the driver arrives, I would hand him the signed sheets which list out stopping pattern, and verbally advise where we're stopping so we both have a clear understanding.

When the train is ready for boarding, I would then stand on the platform to greet the passengers and inform them that I am travelling with them today to answer any questions.

A few minutes before departure, I would make an announcement; introducing myself, giving stopping patterns and giving any safety related information.

After departure, I immediately walk through doing a headcount before starting my ticket checks in standard class. I tend to look for any passengers who may need extra assistance when exiting the service. I ask if they need anything, and check where they're getting off and if they have assistance booked. If anyone needs assistance and they haven't booked, I am able to phone it through or double check with the station they require along the route.

Checking tickets is my next task once we are safely on the move, an important task is checking if anyone wants to upgrade to first class, I check with the catering crew that they have enough food before performing the upgrade, just in case.

If I have bikes onboard, the platform staff would advise me where they need to be let off. If we're mid journey, the customer would normally come to find me to let me know.

On the Glasgow and Edinburgh runs, as Euston staff we only go as far as Preston. I would hand the train over to the train manager at the platform and advise of any problems with the train or important information that they will require for their leg of the journey.

On the last trip of my shift, I cash up just before we arrive back to Euston, and hand my machine back to the cash office.

After 21 years, I still love my role. The job has many challenges, and I've been involved in many different incidents-some good, some bad!

The best of course, meeting my now wife on board, who is a Customer Service Assistant.

One incident that sticks out for me was a customer on one of the last trains who was so intoxicated he fell asleep and missed his last stop. Knowing he had no way home that night, I walked with him all around the Kings Cross area to find him a hotel to stay. That for me was customer service and making sure he was safe.

Another story is I've had a lady go into labour on my service, it was very much a case of keeping her calm until we reached the next stop!

In my railway career I have also experienced a fatality at Harrow. Being my first and only one thankfully, it was very difficult. Even though you feel a sense of extreme sadness, you still need to maintain a sense of professionalism in front of the customers. They look to you for information and guidance.

I feel a sense of pride with my job, every day is different. I meet so many people from all walks of life, and I love chatting to customers and making them smile. My colleagues are also brilliant, we all work well together, which is necessary especially on very busy services.

No two days are the same on the railway, you never know what can happen!

Buy train tickets for your next journey

Buying through our website or app saves you money because we never charge booking fees.

To take a look at more ways to save including using a Railcard, booking in advance, and booking as a group, visit our ways to save page.

Avanti West Coast App