Conductors learn the ropes on Alberni rails

The final group of six students from BCIT wrapped up its hands-on conductor training on local rails, just in time for the real storms.

Brandon Adano

The final group of six students from BCIT wrapped up its hands-on conductor training on local rails, just in time for the real storms to begin.

In total, 24 students from the school took part in the required course work in November with the help of 10 members of the Western Vancouver Island Industrial Heritage Society.

The local resources have been used by BCIT since 2006. Prior to that, the rail yard in Squamish was the training ground, but after a company change, it was no longer practical.

“When it was sold to CN, they wouldn’t let them on the main line and were confined to the rail yard,” IHS volunteer David Hooper said.

“Here the railway is not being used commercially, so the students can actually get out of the rail yard and practice switching, then take the train to a destination and bring it back.”

In the Alberni Valley, the students and IHS members also take advantage of the track being set on a grade, where they can practice setting hand brakes.

The students have access to two locomotives to help simulate a real working environment and learn to work with other crew at the same time. In addition to the large, first generation diesel locomotive, the students have been training on a recently renovated one that worked in the paper mill.

“It was given to the ISH and sat for about 15 years,” Hooper said.

“It was restored around 2013 and BCIT was the motivation for that.

“It is not designed to go 100 miles, it was used to push cars around in the mill.”

Student Ryan Bank, from Nelson, said his time in Port Alberni has been a valuable experience.

“I had no idea the course would be as intense as it is and how much knowledge is required to work in the industry,” he said. “It is absolutely unique because everything we learn in the course related to the job we get to apply here in the real world.”

By the final day of training, Hooper said the students are ready to share responsibility of running the train and giving instructions to the engineer, IHS member and Alberni-based instructor John Land.

Although BCIT pays the society to conduct the training, Land said the benefits are more than just a financial influx.

“It is good for the young folks who want to come up in the railway business,” he said.

Land said he is not surprised at the amount of interest the society receives.

“There are a lot of rail enthusiasts around and the major railways employ thousands of people, so it is big business.”

Bank is hoping to land one of those jobs when he completes his studies.

“I’d like to get into the industry and my preference is Revelstoke,” he said. “It’s close to home and from what I hear, it is a different territory all together.”

Just Posted

Steelhead LNG stops work on Kwispaa LNG project near Bamfield

Huu-ay-aht First Nations ‘deeply disappointed; Steelhead says funding is the problem

West coast group campaigns for seal, sea lion harvest

‘Salmon are going the way of the buffalo unless we do something’

Mount Arrowsmith skaters bring Beatlemania to Port Alberni

Biennial winter carnival showcases Port Alberni skaters

Portal Players Looking for love onstage in Port Alberni

Newcomers bring fun Norm Foster play to life for short run

Alberni boys win 20th consecutive Island Wrestling Championships

Alberni District Secondary School boys finished with 69 points

VIDEO: Canada’s flag turns 54 today

The maple leaf design by George Stanley made its first appearance Feb. 15, 1965

‘How did we get here?’: B.C. mom of transplant recipient worries about measles outbreaks

Addison, 7, cannot get a live vaccine because she has a heart transplant

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh calls for public inquiry over SNC-Lavalin questions

Vancouver member of Parliament Jody Wilson-Raybould resigned from cabinet last week

Canadian airlines waiting for guidance from Ottawa over X gender option

Major U.S. airlines said they will change their process so passengers can identify themselves along non-binary lines

Moose Hide campaign takes message to Canadian schools

Campaign launches new K-12 education platform

‘Violent’ B.C. man wanted on Canada-wide warrant

Prince George man with ties to Vernon sought by police

Homicide police investigate assault turned deadly in Surrey

60-year-old man died at hospital after assault

Trudeau’s principal secretary, Gerald Butts, resigns amid SNC-Lavalin furor

Butts categorically denies the accusation that he or anyone else in the PMO improperly pressured former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould

Deported B.C. man who came to Canada as a baby granted chance at return

Len Van Heest was deported to the Netherlands in 2017

Most Read