The Canadian tourist train manager tells Ben Ireland about his spiritual start to the day and bear-spotting in the Rockies.

I start the day by…
Drinking water and picking an ‘angel card’ from a deck which gives me one specific focus for the day, such as ‘compassion’.

The first thing I do when I get to work is…
Complete my safety equipment checklist by checking my oxygen tank levels and numbers and checking the AED (automatic external defibrillator) green light is working. We have a host meeting at 6am on departure day to discuss high-profile guests, specific requirements and shift scheduling.

My daily duties involve…
Preparing the onboard team for boarding, introducing myself to every rail-car and discussing expectations with guests. On the train, I monitor the movements of surrounding freight trains to anticipate the impact on our passenger train, inform the stations of our estimated time of arrival and check guest requirements for each rail-car.

The most challenging part is…
Unpredictability. We often travel through very remote areas, which can make it challenging to connect with our head office and teams on the ground to provide status updates. We work closely with Rail Traffic Control for freight train traffic updates. The tracks we run on are fairly unique – in some instances eastbound and westbound tracks are on different sides of a river. There are times we pull into the siding so freight trains can pass, or we ourselves pass a stopped train.

The train runs…
From April to October. The onboard team can work long days, typically a four-day schedule followed by a few days off. In high season you can be out back-to-back.

I became a train manager because…
I truly love Canada, and no one’s office has a better view than mine. It may sound cheesy, but I really enjoy helping guests have a trip of a lifetime.

I’ve been in my job for….
18 years, the first 10 as a host and the last eight in management. Before Rocky Mountaineer I worked in restaurants to pay for my environmental studies at college.

The most rewarding part is…
Watching guests arrive at their destination. Sometimes they are completely overwhelmed.

My favourite destination is…
Jasper, a beautiful national park in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains. The natural beauty is unbelievable all year, with opportunities for hiking and canoeing. Jasper National Park is a dark sky preserve, an area where almost no artificial lighting is visible at night, so the opportunities to stargaze are amazing.

What’s your favourite route on the Rocky Mountaineer network?
Our Rainforest to Gold Rush route, because you see the best of British Columbia from Whistler to the mind-blowing Fraser Canyon. This route includes my favourite Alberta destination of magical, peaceful Jasper.

The most common question is…
‘Where are the bears?’ and ‘are we in the Rockies yet?’

Guests’ requests include…
The usual things like changing seats or dietary requirements. And asking to see a bear, and we are usually able to deliver.

The worst thing that’s happened is…
There have been delays or times when the weather didn’t cooperate, but the host team onboard is always incredible at ensuring the guests have a great time.

Do you still like taking the train in your personal life?
Yes! When I was in Japan I spent a whole day just taking the trains back and forth on the tracks from Tokyo to Yokohama, repeatedly, trying to catch photos of the various styles of Shinkansen (bullet trains). It was so much fun.