Originally from Braga, in the north of Portugal, Tiago Ferreira moved to Luxembourg when he was 15 years old. He used to work as an order preparer at Auchan Drive when he ‘incidentally’ stumble upon a campaign by Luxtram to hire the 25 first drivers for the grand duchy’s new trams.
Having always loved to drive various types of vehicles, he took a chance and applied. After a month of training to learn how to drive the tram and all the related safety measures, Ferreira became the youngest tram operator at Luxtram.
Ferreira said, in an interview with Delano this week, that he discovered the hardest part of driving in Luxembourg is having to predict how people and motorists may act in front of the tram, since many in grand duchy are still not used to sharing the road with streetcars.
Fast forward almost a year and a half later, when Ferreira was offered a slot in the 2019 edition of Tram-EM: European TramDriver Championship. “I had already heard about this competition right after I started this job,” Ferreira told Delano. “I received from my manager the offer to compete, about 2 or 3 months prior to the competition. I was very proud he chose me out of 30 drivers. Of course, I immediately accepted.”
This year’s edition of Tram-EM was held in Brussels, on 3-4 May. Drivers from all over Europe competed for the title. European cities like Prague, Barcelona, Brussels, Berlin, Budapest, Rotterdam, Vienna, Paris, and even Moscow and Istanbul were represented, with a total of 50 contestants.
The competition involved 3 different types of trams (a heritage tram truck from the 1930s, PCC Streetcar with floor-mounted pedal, and a Bombardier-built T3000 Flexity tram) and a total of 6 tests. All of which required the highest level of precision.
Few tests involved various objects placed for drivers to get as close to as possible without touching them. Another test focusing on speed meant that speedometers inside the trams were covered over while drivers were asked to drive at the closest speed to 35km/h as possible. Finally, the last test and probably the most original, was ‘bowling’. Drivers had to hit a big ball with their tram and knock down as many huge versions of colorful pins as possible.
“My favorite part was driving the oldest tram model”, said Ferreira. “It was the first time I drove a tram like this one and it was a beautiful experience”.
Tiago Ferreira, a Luxtram operator, poses for a portrait during an interview with Delano, in Kirchberg, 17 July 2019. Photo: Lena Fix
This year was the first time Luxembourg was represented at Tram-EM: European TramDriver Championship. Yet, at 23 years old, the youngest driver at Luxtram also became the youngest best tram driver in Europe. In the team category, Luxembourg reached a respectable 4th place.
Ferreira commented: “I was very happy. Very proud of myself. Knowing that I was the youngest driver participating to this test and a very first time for Luxtram. Taking the prize home was amazing.”