August 21, 2019 by admin
WHEN Keith Jenkins retired at the end of last year it closed the book on more than 150 years on the railway by the Jenkins family.
Keith and his four brothers – Robert, Barry, Raymond and Henry – all worked for State Rail and later Pacific National, all beginning their careers in Junee.
The last of his brothers to retire, Keith finishes after more than 42 years.
None of the Jenkins brothers have less than 15 years service with State Rail, each playing their parts as drivers, firemen, roster clerks and call-boys.
“It’s not a bad effort for one family,” Keith said.
Originally working on a farm, Keith joined the national service in 1968 and trained to drive armoured personnel carriers with the Army’s Second Calvary Regiment in Sydney.
When he completed his time in the national service, Keith returned to Junee.
“When I came out of the army I wanted to go back on the land, but because of the drought there was no work,” he said.
Joining State Rail at the Roundhouse, Keith slowly worked his way through the ranks over 14 years to become a locomotive driver.
Over the years he did every job from preparing trains to fueling locomotives to eventually becoming a co-driver or fireman, and finally becoming a driver.
“My favourite part of it was as long as you did your job properly, you didn’t have anyone breathing down your neck,” Keith said.
Keith said he loved the job which had him travelling the Riverina countryside and wasn’t cooped up inside an office or building.
“I tried being an apprentice baker, but I slept in too much,” he joked.
Always more comfortable in freight trains, Keith also drove the Southern Aurora and Spirit of Progress and has travelled along almost every branch line in the Riverina.
In control of more than 1.5 kilometres of metal, he said knowledge of the railroad was the key part of the job – especially when it came to stopping.
“It takes two kilometres to pull a 1500-metre train up … you’ve got to know your route,” he said.
After 18 years as a driver, Keith has helped train many younger drivers in learning the “road” and said instead of the 14 years it took for him to become a driver, it was now only two years.
Working full-time since he was 15, Keith now has plans to enjoy his retirement catching fish, working on his house and growing bearded irises.
Keith Jenkins is the last of his four brothers to retire after collectively working for 150 years on the railway. Picture: Declan Rurenga INSET: (From left) Barry, Raymond, Henry, Keith and Robert Jenkins outside their home in 1965.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.
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