A chance comment overheard by Southeastern's Administration Team Leader, Sue Hristov, when she was travelling home from work has led to Southeastern opened the doors to its Ramsgate Depot to welcome a group of year 5 children from the nearby Newington Community Primary School.
Sue was travelling home from work one day when a small group of children boarded a train with their teacher. When one of the children spotted a train waiting outside the carriage wash, they “Someone's just abandoned that train!”
Sue saw this saw an opportunity to educate children about trains and safety on the railway, and to give them the chance to experience life in the railway industry by learning what goes into running one of the UK's busiest railway networks.
Sue said “Previously we have run open days at the depot and they've always been really well received by adults and children alike. And so I spoke to the Depot Manager as well as the ‘Travel Safe Travel Smart Centre' at Margate to see if they could help. We wanted to teach the children about being safe on the railway and the dangers of trespass as well as showing how simple and easy it is to travel by train. Some of the children had never been on a train before, let alone in a drivers cab.
“When the children arrived at the depot they were very excited and came up with some brilliant questions but I would say the highlight of their trip was probably making announcements over the PA!”
As well as their depot visit, the the role of a conductor was explained to the children, they helped a driver to dispatch a train, and listened while an engineer explained the workings of a train to them.
The children travelled by train to Margate where they visited the Travel Safe Travel Smart Centre and took part in an interactive session on rail safety, complete with a quiz. By teaching the children how to keep themselves and their friends and family safe on Southeastern's network, the visit helped to spread Southeastern's aim to ensure everyone gets home safe every day.
Some of the group had never been on a train before, such as Kash, 9, who told Sue that it wasn't as he expected; “I thought the gap between the train and the platform would be a lot bigger by the way they talk about it!”
Having heard about everything that goes to make up a train , Kash said he said he now wants to be an engineer and “work with the cool electronics”.
Having learned where the Wi-Fi was located on the train, Sophia, 9, shared her top tip which was “Look out for the white disk, if you are the person sitting closest to it, you'll get the best connection!”
Newington Primary School, Year 5 Head of Year, Carina Keeler added: “With a train station in every town and tracks spanning the length of Thanet and beyond, we jumped at the opportunity to visit Ramsgate's train depot and the ‘Travel Safe, Travel Smart' Centre.
“The children got so much out of the visit and are still talking about it in class today!
“Not only was it an important visit to teach the children of the dangers of the railway and the importance of staying safe. It also opened up a world of future opportunities with a vast number of Southeastern jobs sparking the children's interest.
“We would like to thank the staff at Southeastern for allowing us the opportunity to visit and hope that one day in the future, some of the children from Newington will join the team!”