21 Year old Jac has become the latest member of staff to qualify as a locomotive driver on the Vale of Rheidol Railway making him one of the youngest steam locomotive drivers in the UK.
Jac first joined the railway as an engineering apprentice having left school at 16. After completing his training and apprenticeship, he went on to full time employment at the railway as a fireman as well as in the VoR's engineering workshop, working on restoring and maintaining steam locomotives and using many of the heritage skills he earnt through his training.
Jac grew up around the railway as his father Pete Smith has been a driver since 1989 and is probably one of the most travelled steam engine drivers in the UK. Pete and Jac often work together on the locomotives. At the age of 21, it is believed that Jac is one of the youngest steam locomotive drivers in the UK at the moment.
Driver training is carried out 'on the job' by working alongside other qualified drivers and learning the skills required. Jac had to pass a practical assessment as well as an examination on the railway's rules and regulations. A typical say consists of a morning locomotive preparation where the fire is lit and the locomotive polished and lubricated followed by two trips along the scenic trip to Devil's Bridge and back.
Railway manager Llŷr ap Iolo said
"We are proud of Jac for becoming the railway's newest driver. The Vale of Rheidol is fortunate in to have a large number of young staff members working for the railway. It ensures the traditional railway skills and engineering techniques are passed on to the next generation"
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