Mr Wilson is so passionate about trains that he has bought and restored at least two disused branch line stations in the West country, including his current weekend home near Exeter.
During the week he lives alone in a modest flat in Belsize Park, north London, where he is visited by his mother Mary, 88, and brother Robin, 62.
A family friend said: 'Everyone was a bit surprised that he should take up driving trains as a career.
'It was well known he was a rail enthusiast, but not that he was so serious he planned to be a driver full time.
'It is one thing loving the world of railways but quite another to actually work for a rail company. But he has made that decision and seems to be very happy with it.
'Who knows what his father would think. I'm sure he would not have expected him to end up a train driver.'
Mr Wilson refused to discuss his decision to change careers, insisting that he has always avoided publicity.