Driving light rail to give former teacher a new lease on life
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Driving light rail to give former teacher a new lease on life

Anthony Reid taught high school maths for 21 years, but will swap the classroom for the cab when Canberra's light rail begins running.

The former teacher is one of 16 drivers so far recruited to operate the light rail vehicles, and will get behind the wheel for the first time next week after weeks of intensive training.

Former Canberra maths teacher Anthony Reid has made a career change and is now a  trainee light rail driver.

Former Canberra maths teacher Anthony Reid has made a career change and is now a trainee light rail driver.

Photo: Karleen Minney

“I’ve only sat in it for five minutes so it will be good to actually get in there and hopefully some of the lessons we’ve gone through will make more sense when all the buttons are right in front of us," Mr Reid said with a grin.

His cohort of learner drivers includes a former chef, ex public servants and truckies, and ranges in age from 19 right up into the mid-50s.

Mr Reid said it was not a lifelong ambition to become a light rail driver, but a conveniently timed chance to combine his two loves - driving and trains.

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"I was teaching for 21 years and was on long service leave and it gave me an opportunity to think about what I wanted to do for the next 21 years," Mr Reid said.

Mr Reid, 46, grew up on a farm but moved to Canberra for university in the early 1990s.

Married with two kids, he now runs sheep on a small property at Murrumbateman and holds a bus, truck and motorcycle licence.

He recently got back from a holiday in Japan where he was travelling on the famous Shinkansen bullet trains at 350 kilometres per hour.

“Driving vehicles and being on trains, it’s a combination of two things I enjoy doing so I thought I’d throw my hat in the ring and give it a go," Mr Reid said.

While Mr Reid will miss the classroom and the students who "kept him young", he says the new career will give him a "new lease on life".

And while this new gig is about as different as it gets from his old one, Mr Reid said there are a couple of commonalities.

Anthony Reid will miss his students but is excited to get behind the wheel of a light rail vehicle.

Anthony Reid will miss his students but is excited to get behind the wheel of a light rail vehicle.

Photo: Karleen Minney

"Both teaching and being a driver means you have a duty of care, you need to be looking out for the safety of people, and in both of them, we’re trying to make it an enjoyable experience," Mr Reid said.

"Other than that I wouldn’t say there’s a great deal of commonality. I don’t think I’ll be using my trigonometry or calculus any time soon. Maybe some networking and some scheduling which we teach in class."

Canberra Metro is recruiting for 17 more drivers. More than 300 people turned up at a career expo last weekend, with the company looking for staff who are safety-conscious and can give great customer service.

Meanwhile the project is inching closer to completion.

More than half of the vehicles have now arrived in Canberra and are now being tested at speed along the northern end of the route, with daytime testing to kick off soon.