Shift No. 12

By Edward | Shifts

Oct 10

So I’ve decided to write short blog posts from my actual shifts, to give you, dear reader, some insight into what it is like to work as a guard on a train.

Also, I want you all to have something to read between my big posts.

This is my first post with a shift report.


Get up very early in Hamburg and bring a Flixtrain from Hamburg to Cologne as chief guard.

From Cologne take it empty to a small station upstream on the Rhine, fill it up with water, have the loos sucked out.

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Then three days backwards and forwards between Cologne and Hamburg.

Nice thing I did:

At Hamburg-Harburg a woman comes from the carriage with the stag do and asks if we have anywhere normal. Then she bursts into tears.

I park her in the empty wheelchair compartment, get the train going and bring her a cup of my strong Russian tea with lots of sugar.

Nasty thing I did:

At Essen, after I’ve given the driver the order to set off, a youth comes running, earphones akimbo, wanting to get on.

People with Flixtix are never late, so he can’t be one of mine. I shout at him to stand back – if he falls on the tracks it’ll be my fault.

He gives me the finger, and I give him the finger back.

Weird thing:

At Cologne West I found a dead parrot next to my Flixtrain. It was even Flix coloured. What on earth does this mean?


Arrived Cologne on Tuesday with 30 minutes delay due to being stuck behind other trains. People all completely relaxed about it.

Beer drunk afterwards:

Kölsch. Three or four small ones. I love Kölsch. My alcoholic sweet spot is an Italian beer bottle, that is, 0.66l.

Three Kölsches set me up nicely, four feel indulgent without making me feel bad.


When doing a four day Flixshift, you never know what you are going to get.

The first trip you flail about on an unknown set of carriages until Cologne.

Then, to quote Patches O’Houlahan from Dodgeball, you hump them into submission.

On the second day you have everything under control.

On the third day you know each coach’s lovable idiosyncrasies (No. 6: light may go off when heating goes on; No. 2: doors close 2 seconds later than the others; No. 1: makes weird warbling noise for no reason).

For three days it’s like you live on this train. On the fourth day you put the train to bed and think après moi, le deluge.

Next Saturday I’m starting all over again. Apparently there are more carriages on their way.

I hope you find these posts interesting. If you have questions, just leave one in the comments.

About the Author

After crisscrossing Europe for 6 years as a train conductor, I guide intrepid travellers roaming Europe by rail.