“We showed other females new opportunities”: Kristina Vakulenko - about the profession of a metro train driver

November 12

In early 2021, after several decades break, female train drivers were hired again in the Moscow metro. Modern trains "Moscow" under their control run on the Filyovskaya line, and new female students continue to acquire a profession of a train driver in mixed groups, together with men. One of the first female train drivers, Kristina Vakulenko, spoke about the first results of her work and career plans to mos.ru.

Stereotypes and a career in the metro

Since January of this year, female can officially work as metro train drivers. What do you think, have you managed to dispel to some extent a stereotype that the profession is not for female? 

— There are different opinions on this matter. But we have created all the conditions for the most comfortable work.

We, female train drivers, work on the Filyovskaya line and operate modern Moskva trains. Experience shows that we do our job perfectly — no worse than men, we are just as attentive and assiduous. 

But, of course, the professionalism of the train driver is important, not the driver gender.

I want to note that our male colleagues were very loyal to us. Male instructors helped with any difficulty, any problems, always came to the rescue. It is a very positive experience, many thanks to them.

Photo by Yevgeny Samarin, Mos.ru

— How did you decide to become a train driver?

— In part, you can say thank you to my husband. My husband had already worked in the metro when I was looking for a new job, and suggested that I also go to the metro — this is stability and career growth. At first I worked as a station operator — I controlled the trains schedule, and then I learned to be a station attendant, then — to be a train driver.

When I was working as a station attendant, I saw an advertisement in the newspaper "My Metro" — this is an internal corporate publication. Immediately I decided that it was necessary to try, venture. Again, thanks to my husband, I was familiar with the job, understood the work scheme, and knew the schedule. And still it was exciting — after all, one of the first female drivers after such a long break.

— So it was not difficult for you to put on the uniform?

— All employees of the metro have uniforms, so I just changed the uniform of the station attendant to the uniform of the train driver. In principle, I like uniform; the only thing is that the hats are different: the station attendants have special hats, and the train drivers wear side caps.

Photo by Yevgeny Samarin, Mos.ru

— Did your husband support you in choosing a profession? What about other family members?

— At first he was a little wary — he did not expect me to venture. Then he supported me, of course, and supported me throughout my studies. Without family support, this profession can be difficult, including due to the shift schedule.

Relatives also reacted with apprehension at first, they, one might say, were shocked by my news — because for a long time only male were train drivers in Moscow metro. No one could imagine that a female would drive the train. Now they are very interested, they ask questions. Female acquaintances also want to try themselves in this profession.

The main rules of the train driver

— How difficult is it to drive a modern metro train?

— This process is not complicated in itself, but there are many nuances and manipulations. The control is not so difficult in comparison with what needs to be done while driving — to follow the indications of traffic lights, turnouts on the tracks. We are also responsible for the inspection of things left in the train. With the call via the "passenger-train driver" connection, it is necessary to respond promptly, for example, if the passenger becomes ill.

Some colleagues compare driving a train to driving a car, but for me it is different due to greater responsibility. The car transports maximum four passengers and in the train there are much more people.

— What are the main rules for the train driver?

— First, you need to know the instructions, orders, documentation. This rule is always in the first place both for me and for colleagues. Secondly, I believe that you must always be vigilant, concentrated - in this profession you don’t have right to mistake. You cannot be attentive in the first hour of the shift, and then relax. The train drivers understand that they always have thousands of human lives in the train and they are responsible for them. It is also important for the train driver to have a good rest before the night shift and take care of his health.

— What do you like most about the profession?

— The importance and significance of the work. Thanks to the metro and train drivers, Muscovites get to work, study, and important meetings. And without the drivers, no one will arrive anywhere on time.

— What is the most difficult thing in the profession?

— Probably, constantly keep abreast. It is difficult to be always vigilant, persevering, to keep yourself in good shape. For this, it is necessary, among other things, to study. Every day, before the shift, there are briefings and once a month — technical training.

— What, in your experience, is the most important quality of a train driver?

— The driver must be stress-resistant. To further strengthen mental health, we regularly work with a psychologist and psychophysiologist. According to this parameter, we are checked already at the stage of training and a serious screening is carried out.

About plans for the future

— Have you already had interesting or amusing cases during your work?

— The funniest thing was when we start work. In the early days, passengers did not yet understand that female train drivers are now working in Moscow metro. They often looked into the cockpit, knocked, waved to us — in this way they expressed support, showed that we were great. Especially the elderly sometimes cannot believe their eyes, even the glasses are lowered to make sure whether the female is really driving the train. Once they wanted to take a picture with me, but the train driver's schedule is scheduled in seconds, and there is no time during the shift — work is more important.

— In what direction do you plan to develop further?

— Now I need to gain experience and knowledge, for this I entered the Russian university of transport. My dream is to become an instructor and train those who want to become a train driver. But first of all, I need to be qualified in the near future — I will do this after the New Year. 

Qualification level is our career ladder. The newly hired train driver does not have any qualification level, and then he gets the third, then the second and the highest — the first. I will be studying for the third level train driver exam. In two years, I will again study at the corporate metro university and take exams to get the second level. Because only train drivers of the second and first levels can become instructors.

Photo by Yevgeny Samarin, Mos.ru

— What would you like to wish for girls who want to become train drivers, but have not yet taken the first step?

— I advise you not to doubt, set a goal, go ahead and not be afraid - thing will definitely work out. New work started, I do not regret anything, I am glad that I myself took this step. We showed new opportunities to other women.

Source: mos.ru

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