This week on Between the Lines: A Metrolinx Podcast, director of rail operations Rob Fuller takes listeners into GO Transit’s Willowbrook Rail Maintenance Facility and talks about the changes he’s seen in the rail industry in the last 50 years and where GO service is heading in the future.
‘Can’t don’t live here.’
Those words hang above the desk of Metrolinx director of rail operations, Rob Fuller, at an office at the GO Transit Willowbrook Rail Maintenance Facility in west Toronto.
It’s a mindset that is clear to anyone who has worked with Fuller in his 50 years in the rail industry.
He started his career in 1972 as a machinist apprentice, which Fuller says is a “railway way of saying you’re a diesel mechanic.” He even remembers working on one of the very last steam engines to pull a GO Train.
Listen to Rob Fuller discuss his career, the project he is most proud of and what’s next for GO Transit here:
Episode 17 – Fifty Years in Rail: Talking GO Transit's past & future with Rob Fuller – Between The Lines: A Metrolinx Podcast
- Episode 17 – Fifty Years in Rail: Talking GO Transit's past & future with Rob Fuller
- Episode 16 – #AMAwithAMA – Who is Train Guy, can TBMs be reused and more!
- Episode 15 – Tunnel Boring Machines
- Episode 14 – #AMAwithAMA – Your Light Rail Transit (LRT) questions answered
- Episode 13 – Navigating market volatility in transit
Looking back on a career
In the 1980s, Fuller ran a rail yard control centre. Then he was a shop supervisor on both the afternoon and day shifts.
By 2006, he was working as a general manager with Bombardier when the company was bidding on a new contract to operate GO Transit service.
Less than a decade later, with Metrolinx, he was tasked with getting the Union-Pearson Express up and running.
“Those two years, getting ready for that service to be delivered June 6, 2015, we were heads down working,” Fuller told Between the Lines host Matt Llewellyn.
“You don’t often get a chance to do something like that. I hold that one near and dear to the heart for sure. The day we turned the service on was one phenomenal day.”
Now, after 50 years, Fuller is set to retire. So, what is he going to miss most?
“There’s not one thing I’m not going to miss. It just becomes part of your life – it becomes what you do. I’m hoping that all the things I’ve got planned are going to fill up that void, but there’s a whole bunch of stuff that I do everyday: talking with people, thinking through problems, challenging ourselves to do better… and it’s all of that stuff. It’s a full meal deal, basically.”
Watch Metrolinx director of rail operations Rob Fuller as he takes the Metrolinx podcast team around the Willowbrook Rail Maintenance Facility:
Story by James Wattie, Between the Lines podcast producer & editor