Andreas Immekeppel left the lecture hall to drive trains at NordWestBahn in Germany


Blue eyes, small laugh lines and an open eye for new perspectives: for Andreas Immekeppel, life is not a linear path, but a path full of possibilities. At the age of 54, he swapped his job as a university lecturer for a new start – and has been a train driver at NordwestBahn since March 2020.

How did you come about to change your job?

Every phase of life is full of challenges and new opportunities. My motto: just do it. In many situations in my life I have thought to myself: Why not? And so it was with this decision.

How did you experience your late entry into the mobility industry? Was your age an issue here?

As for age, there seems to be a magic number – a number that starts with a five. Above this number, it is apparently assumed that one is less adaptable or even closed to new career paths. Here I must be very clear: it’s different in the “railway family”. Everyone is welcome here and can start their career later in life – and that’s exactly why I decided to retrain back then.

What qualifications are there to become a train driver?

There is only one age limit for being qualified to become a train driver: namely, that you have to turn 20 years before the end of the training. The job of a train driver is a demanding job. Therefore, of course, you need very good concentration and reaction skills. All applicants are therefore tested for their psychological and medical fitness in an aptitude test.

How did you find the aptitude test?

I think that even as an older candidate you don’t have to worry about this. On the contrary: I believe that with life experience, self-confidence and inner calm also grow, which is definitely an advantage in this test. The fact is, it’s impossible to pass the reaction tests without errors – unless you have five hands and three arms. Rather, it’s about getting started again and not being unsettled.

What advice do you have for people who are looking to change careers, but who find it difficult to decide because to their age?

It goes without saying that a good deal of courage is required when starting a new career. I taught as a lecturer at the university for 22 years before I realized: It is time for something new, something completely different and many people my age will certainly feel the same way. I can only advise everyone: keep your eyes open for new possibilities and dare!

Do you have a few final words about your late entry at the NordWestBahn?

 The training to become a train driver is of course not to be taken lightly and quite demanding, but it was the right decision. I am of the opinion: it doesn’t work, doesn’t exist. And I really had a great instructor. Together with him, I literally gained every meter of experience on the rails – and can now also pass this on to other aspiring train drivers as a train driver. The NordWestBahn also supports me in my professional development. If you really want to, your career path is far from over, even if you are over 50!

Photo by: NordWestBahn

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