• Conductors: In your opinion, what makes a good engineer?

  • General discussion about railroad operations, related facilities, maps, and other resources.
General discussion about railroad operations, related facilities, maps, and other resources.

Moderator: Robert Paniagua

  by jg greenwood
Only fair that we should give the trainmen an opportunity to vent. I'm not sure if it's safe to allow the "BigC" to post his thoughts though as I'm sure he has a multitude of suggestions. :wink:

  by thebigc
Boy, you're really testing my memory JG cause it's been years since we've had any good engineers where I work! :wink:

I mainly don't like newbies from choo choo U that feel as if they're the smartest guy they know when in fact what they don't know about railroading would fill up your hard drive!

But here's a few anyhow:

Don't use the high beam and ring the bell continuously in the yard.

Don't move the engine without a signal. This is a bad habit some people fall into. Don't assume!

Don't whine about the weather or the cab heater. If it's broke, report it and have someone check it out but don't cry about it all night. The yard heater doesn't work either. We don't have 300 mile districts so it's not like you're on the loco for hours on end.

I could go on for hours with a laundry list but basically I prefer engineers that work with me rather than against.

Best kept secret on the railroad is that when we work together, this job is pretty easy and sometimes fun. Working with duds makes for a long night.

  by SteelWheels21
Don't know if these necessarily make a GOOD engineer, but I always like these qualities when I find them:

--Guys that don't keep the cab a million degrees, and don't mind if I crack my window a little bit, even if it's cold out.

--Not afraid to jump in on the radio and help out a new guy with unfamiliar things, and the patience to explain them.

--Not afraid to take a roll-by or occasionally line a switch if I'm on the other end. I know they're not supposed to, but I know more than a few of our guys miss being on the ground and have no problem jumping down (even had one guy help me tube up a 40 car cut).

--Guys that don't complain if the edges aren't ripped off the paperwork or if their track warrants are/aren't stapled. I've got enough to worry about going over my own stuff without making sure everything you get is just so.

--Don't mind me eating cooked cabbage and the uncontrolled disastrous flatulence that follows. Haha, just kidding on that.

--Finally, I love old heads who are in a good mood when I catch them and start telling stories. Keeps me awake and passes the time quickly, not to mention the high entertainment value.

With the exception of one knucklehead, I can honestly say that I've enjoyed every hog I've worked with so far in my service unit and they've taught me a lot of good habits and railroading knowledge.

  by SnoozerZ49
For me a good hogger is someone that can come in on a hitch the same way every time. He has good control and I don't have to "join the birds" when he makes a hitch. I guess what I mean is that you can work together well so that you can adjust to his style and make good safe hitches on the first attempt. I know that engines can vary and ambient temp conditions effect braking but I am amazed at the guys that can compensate for these factors and keep the job moving.

Besides the simple factors of getting along with someone which is important, I enjoy working with guys that can maintain their concentration, always have the train under control, that is know how to handle the brakes and are attentive to my radio communication. Knowing that they are listening and responding makes me feel safer out there on the ground.

  by CSX Conductor
Another thing that makes a good engineer is when he doesn't tell the conductor what to do, ie. how to build the train, how to switch the customers, etc. :wink:

  by GN 599
Conductors dont have to ride in cabooses anymore so they shouldn't have anything to complain about.

  by SnoozerZ49
Huh? I think I missed something. I think it's interesting to compare these responses to the engineer responses on the other thread.

There is certainly not much of a defense regarding falling asleep but on the other hand it is so easy for an engineer to sit in the seat out of the weather not having to fumble around obstacles all night long and second guessing the guy on the ground. Some guys that are in the seat now never had to work alone on the ground. They had at least one brakeman to ease the foot work, maybe even more brakeman. They can probably remember fighting off indians and train robbers too.

Be it engineer or conductor there will always be good guys to work with and there will always be a plentiful supply of jack asses on the railroad. In fact I have never met so many anti-social misfits as I have on the railroad. They cannot even get along with their shadow let alone another human being.

I try to respect my engineer as a coworker, keep the space clean, keep the lights down as often as possible without compromising my own paperwork, extinguishing my light and closing windows as I exit the cab, turning my radio off as I enter, etc...

Conversely, expect the engineer to show the same respect for me. When I walk in the cab half frozen or soaking wet, when I am wrestling with the door, when I am taking my gear off, being aware that I am settling in and maybe asking me about my radio before grabbing the microphone and squaking away, just plain old respect and cooperation.

How about the engineer that tries calling you on the radio while chewing tobacco, eating a sandwich, the brake stand is exhausting, he has the bell on, he is probably smoking, his head is out the window and he is using the hand set while it is still mounted on the bracket. The result, you cannot hear him and he gets mad at you and accuses you of being deaf.

Regardless of craft there are always plenty of guys that can only get along in the railroad world, no other industry would put up with them.

  by route_rock
They can probably remember fighting off indians and train robbers too.

I know a few of these guys!! :-D

Snoozer my man you hit it all in one easy swing! I love some of the guys out here for their quickness to help out the new guy, the stories and the friendliness, However that being said we have major *&^%$##*&^^%^%$%%$%^^^%*&$$%*_&^&( out here too!

I have a strong feeling that some of it is old heads not wanting to work with younger guys ( cant blame them sometimes) and younger in their 20's never had an outside job or worked with large equipment. But they are a vanishing breed right now as Imoved from 4870 something to 4820 something in rank in a weeks time!

So far ( knocks on my wooden head) I have had nothing but good engineers except one, but he wasnt bad just scared me to death!Hopefully I keep being this lucky ( or I move ot the right side adn get to listen to conductors yell at me ;) ) stay safe fellas

  by SnoozerZ49
Route Rock,
hey you seem to have it under control, good for you. I think I try pretty hard to be a good guy to work with. My last hurdle though is dealing with the guys that CSX Conductor talks about, that is the guys that try to run the job from the seat and question everything you do. When that happens it is probably a good thing that I am fortyh cars away. :-D

  by Aji-tater
The best way to deal with those guys is pretend you don't hear them. Just give them the commands and car counts. If they're really obnoxious you might throw a little gibberish at them, tell them you are putting all the gafloobles on the quay track first move.

Yeah, I know, it's hard not to start a peeing contest if you have those bozos, since they take great offense at any suggestion they are not the world's best conductor even while sitting in the engineer's seat. Joking aside, you might try telling them that if management hears them drumming the job from the engine, it might convince them to go to remotes since one man is doing all the work anyway.