Who are you and what do you do?
Rod Binding, Driver Trainer, Pacific National Greta Train Support Facility.
When did you start in the mining industry and what was your first job?
I began my career in the industry with Southern Shorthaul Railroad based out of Newstan as a trainee locomotive driver. After a short time, I transferred to Pacific National at Port Waratah as a driver, then in mid-2019 I transferred to Pacific Nationals Greta facility.
How different is your job now to what you wanted to be when you were a kid?
Growing up I always wanted to mirror my dad and become a firefighter. I am a light vehicle mechanic by trade but got enticed to join the mining industry for the interesting and varied amount of haulage work that we do at Pacific National.
What’s a usual day at work entail?
At Pacific National I work with a team of 5 other driver trainers delivering all manner of training from competency-based assessments to new starter trainee schools and trainee driver schools. It is enjoyably busy as we have over 300 train crew at Greta with each and every one needing assessment every 2 years to demonstrate their job qualifications.
What’s the best thing about your job?
Being able to conduct a new starter trainee school and seeing the development of these people from their various past employments into fully qualified drivers and driver assistants.
The worst thing?
There never seems to be enough hours in the day, but somehow, we make it work.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome?
Over 10 years of being a driver, learning all manner of driving techniques and route qualifications to be able to confidently become a trainer and now assess others on the job.
What has been your proudest achievement?
Mentoring new trainee drivers and seeing them progress with their train handling and route knowledge to the point where they are ready to be assessed as drivers.
What’s something about your job that would surprise people to know?
When you’re driving out trains (some are nearly 1.6km long) you need to think not only about where your lead locomotive is, but also kilometres ahead and the 1.6 kilometres behind to effectively operate a coal train weighing over 11,000 tonne efficiently and safely.
What’s a funny story about work that you can tell?
Some of the sights we see out of the locomotive cabs windows can definitely be interesting! Also plenty of dad jokes get told both in the office and on the train. Unfortunately, whilst I think they are great, others, well… not so much, but it does make for a more enjoyable time at work.
What do you do in your downtime?
I have a family and we live at Kariong near Gosford. They keep me fairly busy with sports and activities. I am also the Captain of Kariong Fire and Rescue NSW, which takes up most of my spare time. It is something I enjoy though as it gives a great sense of pride and satisfaction when helping someone who is having their worst day and making it better.
The mining industry gets more than its fair share of criticism. What is your view of our industry and the impact it has?
Mining makes a positive difference to the local communities, through local business spending and to state and federal governments due to the economic contributions derived from the industry. It employs thousands of workers and at Pacific National we support various charities including the rescue helicopter. So, there are many benefits both seen and unseen for the Hunter region and surrounding communities.