Youngest locomotive engineer in New Zealand

KiwiRail’s youngest qualified locomotive engineer, Todd Hewetson piloted his first solo run the night of 23 May 2012 at the controls of 827 from Christchurch to Otira. Todd, who had just completed his on-the-job training and all the necessary certifications, turned 21 the following week. Age is no barrier to driving trains, but there must be a level of maturity displayed before taking on the role of LE said KiwiRail Christchurch Operations Manager, Jed O’Donoghue.

“Todd met this admirably, showing a mature outlook beyond his years during his time in the Middleton yard and during his on-the-job training,” he said.

Todd’s demeanour was thought to be attributed to growing up with an appreciation of what the role of LE entails - his father Murray Hewetson is an LE based in Picton. Todd joined the ranks of KiwiRail’s Christchurch-based team and is one of many new LEs coming through the system. Todd had always aspired to follow in his father’s footsteps and the prospect of working long often anti-social hours in rotating shifts, didn’t bother him at all. “The job has always appealed and I like the freedom that shift work gives you, he says. “It is a well-paid job and I get to see the country,” he says.

“It is really heartening to see the high level of professionalism exhibited by this new cohort as he takes up the challenges of unsocial and often long hours,” says Jed.

In May 2012 KiwiRail had around 450 locomotive engineers. Expected growth in both freight and passenger services meant that at least 100 more are required over the next two years to meet that demand.

Todd left school mid-way through Year 13 at Marlborough College in June 2009 to begin his career with KiwiRail. After two weeks at the Woburn Training Centre he began in the Middleton yard as a Rail Operator, inspecting trains and piloting locomotives around the depot. After being accepted into Locomotive Engineer training, Todd started his theory in February 2011, and once this was successfully completed he moved to practical training in May 2011. Through good work and the application of his trainers he was able to fulfil his minimum on the-job training hours in 12 months, Jed says.