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Last stop Broken Hill

Wednesday, 10th October, 2018

Richard Raven at home on a railway platform. PICTURE: Emily Ferguson Richard Raven at home on a railway platform. PICTURE: Emily Ferguson

By Emily Ferguson

Richard Raven is completely dedicated to his work and helping those around him and there is not much that can keep him down. 

Richard was born and raised in Broken Hill with his two older brothers. They attended the Marist Brothers College.

Richard left school to work at a service station called Courtesy Corner, to help provide for his family after his father was involved in a tragic accident.  

His father was a jockey and won four Silver City Cups and he was also a miner at the Zinc Mine.

Richard’s mother lived to 101 years of age. He looked after her for 20 years on his own, “anything she wanted, I did for her.”

He and his first wife had a son, Heath, and Richard is also a grandfather to five grandchildren. 

In 1998, Richard began working at the Broken Hill Railway Station, where he still works today as the Platform Assistant Manager. 

He hasn’t missed a train in all his years of working at the station, even after he broke his leg falling down a pit at work, he was back there within two hours. 

Richard’s role is to ensure the station runs smoothly, keeping passengers happy and looking after the trains. He offloads the linen and garbage from the train, whilst ensuring the passengers board and leave the train in a safe manner. 

“We are actually in charge of the people while they’re on this station, if they were to fall over or get hurt, we’ve got to fill out an accident report and get them to hospital, which does happen, it happens a lot,” said Richard. 

Richard watches many people board the trains and after many years they’ll return to Broken Hill station and recognise his face, telling him “you were here when I was last here” and he tells them, “yes, I was probably running around the place,” he said.

“I’ve met thousands of people but I can’t remember them all, some I can, some I can’t.”

Richard is proud to be a part of the station and involved with the great trains.

“It’s certainly something, it’s the big silver bird and I say if you can afford it, have a ride on it because one day it will finish ... they’re absolutely beautiful, and the crew, they’re darlings, the whole lot of them, nothing is too much trouble,” said Richard.

“It’s a beautiful train and I wish a lot of people could go and have a look at it or go for a ride on it just to say you’ve been on the big silver bird... it’s one heck of a train.”

Richard’s life hasn’t been without its challenges. He has fallen victim to a few different types of cancer in his time. But he also feels he has been quite lucky. He won a Harley Davidson motorcycle through a raffle at the Musicians Club, and twelve months later to the day his partner won a car. 

“I’m 70-odd years of age and I’m still working. The day will come when I’ve just about had enough and I reckon that’ll be within the next year,” he said.

“This station used to have 50-odd working here over the years, now it’s just a young lady that works the office in here and myself.”

Richard told of a time in the mid 2000s that a man who had escaped an asylum in Sydney boarded the train who was dressed as, and called himself, Osama Bin Ladin. He threated to blow the train up and told Richard he would “slice your throat from ear to ear”.

Richard managed to talk the man off the train and onto the platform, for the police to capture him and take him into custody.

“The things that we have seen happen here are very unusual,” Richard said. “They said, ‘weren’t you scared?’ I said no, if your time’s up it’s up, I just wanted to get them passengers off the train safely first. 

“I’ll keep going, while I can put one foot after the other I’ll keep doing it, but me, myself, I’m happy with life, I’m very happy doing what I do, I like to help old people, always have,” he said. 

Richard is very glad to call Broken Hill home, “I’ve met a lot of nice people here in Broken Hill, they’re absolutely beautiful and it’s a lovely place to be, a very friendly place to be.”

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