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Mentoring in the rail context: the influence of training, style, and practice

Anjum Naweed (Appleton Institute for Behavioural Science, Central Queensland University, Wayville, Australia)
Angelina Ambrosetti (School of Education and the Arts, Central Queensland University, Wayville, Australia)

Journal of Workplace Learning

ISSN: 1366-5626

Article publication date: 12 January 2015




The purpose of this paper is to investigate workplace learning in the context of the rail industry, specifically for the type of learning required to become a train driver. It examines the impact of changes to the traditional learning model, and explores the potential of mentoring in the learning/training model.


This paper uses a participative research approach to examine training experiences with trainee drivers and driver trainers (n = 61) in six Australian rail organisations. The data are synthesised based on an inductive thematic analysis from focus groups, interviews and cab-rides.


Current driver-learning approaches contain a number of haphazard elements that provide an unfavourable learning experience. Mentoring practices appear to be happening incidentally, despite train drivers wanting mentoring experiences.

Practical implications

In the designing and planning of new driver-learning frameworks, it is important to identify the unintended consequences of implementing a condensed “classroom” curriculum. The condensed and accelerated driver-learning model currently used could be enhanced through the incorporation of a mentoring process.


The article fills an important research gap in the space of workplace learning and mentoring in the rail industry. The themes and findings provide a basis for why mentoring should be integrated as part of the training process. It draws attention to the importance of the situational context, and contributes to communities of practice by outlining important considerations for a holistic model of mentoring in the rail industry.



The authors acknowledge Central Queensland University, and the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Rail Innovation (established and supported under the Australian Government’s Cooperative Research Centres program) for funding this research. The authors would also like to thank Ganesh Balakrishnan.


Naweed, A. and Ambrosetti, A. (2015), "Mentoring in the rail context: the influence of training, style, and practice", Journal of Workplace Learning, Vol. 27 No. 1, pp. 3-18.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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