David Brimble knew going into the rail fixing industry as a small business would be tough.
The field is mostly dominated by national and multi-national firms, the hours are long and getting started itself is a costly process.
However, a desire for a better work-life balance and spending more time with his young family pushed him to make the leap after more than 20 years of work with one of the rail giants.
Purchasing the required equipment and vehicles several years ago, he’s scored his first contracts in the last three months, taking to the tracks with a small team including his brother Bradley.
Working on the railways isn’t for the faint hearted.
Their vehicle consists of a tamper and a regulator – the former lifts and straightens the rails, while the latter fills in the rocks that form the track bed.
Once they start a job, the machines run non-stop, with workers taking turns in 12-hour shifts for days at a time.
According to David, there’s a big shortage of machines working on the rail, fixing tracks, making them smoother and level.
Contract work is usually hired out to huge businesses, with Brimble Rail working alongside industry giants such as John Holland and Lang O’Rourke.
It’s a David versus Goliath battle but one the Maitland battlers said they were enjoying.
“You’ve got million dollar companies and then there’s us, just giving it a crack,” he explained.
It hasn’t been smooth sailing so far- they’ve had to deal with multiple break downs in their first few shifts, necessitating a few running repairs.
“Our machines are a few years older so the seals and other components start to break down,” he said, with up to four hours of their 12-hour shifts spent dealing with the mechanical faults.
However, there’s lots to like according to David – in particular, the level of concentration required when operating tonnes of machinery to be millimetre perfect.
“To get these big heavy machines working moving things within 1mm is pretty technical,” he said.
“It’s a bit of a rush.”