At just 21, James Neighbours is the youngest train driver in the country - and he is in for the long haul.
The Westport born and bred locomotive engineer works around his hometown and drives trains down as far as Otira, mostly carrying coal.
In an industry with an ageing workforce, he represents the new generation in rail. After him, the next youngest rail worker at Westport is 43. The oldest on the West Coast is 73.
The average age for a locomotive engineer is over 50.
However, the age difference does not faze the Westport lad.
"They're all good fellas, we get along well. They don't judge me for my age," he said.
He understood it was a big responsibility: "I had it drilled into me."
Trains had been a feature in Mr Neighbours' life from a young age.
"My dad worked for KiwiRail for over 30 years ... I remember when I was younger he took me in to work and showed me around the trains."
His track to becoming a train driver started after leaving school, when he got a job as a rail operator.
"After a year I decided I wanted to be a train driver."
More than 1000 hours' experience later, he became a qualified locomotive engineer on August 20.
"I love it, wouldn't trade it for anything else. I'd recommend it to anyone."
Mr Neighbours would have been the youngest person to qualify, but was narrowly pipped at the post by a former Buller High School classmate.
That record is held by a Christchurch driver, Todd Heweston, who used to live right across the train tracks from Mr Neighbours in Westport. He qualified last year, a week before his 21st birthday.
Mr Neighbours, though, is happy to settle for being the youngest driver in the country.