Newington children explore behind the scenes at Southeastern’s Ramsgate depot

School children with Shift Production Manager Mark Scholefield

Southeastern has opened the doors to the Ramsgate depot to welcome children from Newington Community Primary School to experience a taste of life in the railway industry.

A group of year 5 children from the school were given the chance to go behind the scenes of Southeastern and learn, first-hand, what goes into running one of the UK’s busiest railway networks.

The visit happened by chance when Southeastern’s administration team leader Sue Hristov was travelling home from work one day and a small group of children boarded a train with their teacher.

One of the children spotted a train waiting outside the carriage wash and exclaimed; “Someone’s just abandoned that train!” and Sue saw an opportunity to educate children about trains and also safety on the railway.

She said: “Previously we have run open days at the depot and they’ve always been really well received by adults and children alike. 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 driver’s 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!”

The children were also given an insight into the role of a conductor, helped the driver to dispatch a train and discovered the workings of the train with engineers.

They then boarded a train along the coast to Margate to visit the Travel Safe Travel Smart Centre. An interactive session on rail safety, complete with a quiz, reinforced Southeastern’s aim to make sure everyone gets home safe every day, by teaching children how to keep themselves and their friends and family safe on the rail network.

Pupil with Mark Scholefield, Shift Production Manager

For some of the group, the day marked their first-ever journey by train. Kash, 9, 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!”

Kash said he now wants to be an engineer and “work with the cool electronics” having heard about all the different components and systems that make up a train.

Sophia, 9, shared her top tip from the day, having learned where the WiFi is located onboard: “Look out for the white disk, if you are the person sitting closest to it, you’ll get the best connection!”

Southeastern staff that helped on the day Kim Hollands, Mark Scholefield, Andy Philpott, Andy Barrs, Simon Kemp, Susan Hristov, Nicola Wilde.

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.

“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.”


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