MAGIC MIKE: After nearly 47 years working for Queensland Rail and Aurizon, Mike Rendell is retiring.
MAGIC MIKE: After nearly 47 years working for Queensland Rail and Aurizon, Mike Rendell is retiring. Rob Williams

Mike makes tracks after 46 loyal years

HE is the "electrician extraordinaire" who has kept trains on track for almost half a century.

But now Chuwar's Mike Rendell is set to make tracks himself as he retires today from his job at Aurizon after more than 46 years with the same employer.

Mr Rendell started his apprenticeship as an electrician on December 9, 1968.

"Then I came to Redbank and worked on locos. I've specialised on diesel locos," he said.

"I've been at Redbank since 1973, and was at Ipswich and Brisbane before that while I was doing my apprenticeship."

Mr Rendell's consecutive years of service with Queensland Rail (QR) and Aurizon is a rare achievement these days. So what has been the attraction at the Redbank railway workshops?

"The camaraderie, I was 12 minutes from home and it was a good place to work," he said.

"It is still a good place to work, although not as good as it was.

"I didn't see any need to go anywhere else."

He has seen plenty of changes, particularly in staff numbers.

"There were 500 or 600 here and then it went up to 900 when they closed Ipswich (railway workhops) down and they came out here, but now it is down to bare bones," he said.

"The place is going to shut altogether in June of 2017 so they tell us.

"I was prepared to stay and get 50 years of service but that is not going to happen, so I am taking a redundancy and going.

"When I go there will only be around 100 men left. It is just a sign of the times. It used to be commonplace here for blokes to get 45 or 50 years of service, but those days are gone."

Technology has changed markedly since Mr Rendell started work but one thing that hasn't is his renowned ability to fix diesel locos.

"I have spent most of my life on diesel locos and the major change I have seen is that the new generation locos have got computers controlling everything," he said.

"I have specialised in fault finding on diesel locos and it is a whole new ball game with computers.

"We got thrown in the deep end at the start, but we got a grip on it and got to know them.

"They used to send them to me from all over the state when they couldn't fix them electrically...and I'd fix them.

"Sometimes you'd have to get a bloke who was good on theory to come and help you but most times I could fix them."

The 62-year-old isn't the longest serving employee at Redbank.

"There is one other bloke who has got a year on me and he's still here," he grinned.

Mr Rendell has a great appreciation for the opportunity he was given as a youth. He earned it though.

"I come from Gympie originally and I couldn't get a job up there as an apprentice," he said.

"I put in for quite a few jobs, and I put in for the railway exam to be a tradesman.

"In those days if you did the exam, depending on how high up the list you got, you'd get an apprenticeship.

"They wanted a couple of hundred blokes. A couple of thousand applied and I got 18th.

"They wanted 20 electricians so I got what I wanted.

"I've appreciated having a job I wanted all those years. My employer looked after me and I looked after them."

Mr Rendell has brought up two children with wife Yvonne. Now it is time for him to kick back and enjoy life away from the workshops.

"I'll spend time with my kids and my grandkids. My daughter has just had identical twin girls so I will be pretty busy," he said.

"I've got a boat so I am going to go fishing. I've got a bike and I'll ride that around and do a bit of travelling."



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