mirrodie wrote:So I am glad you agree, it's just applied physics and mechanics.
With proper training, it can be done soon as someone has a brain about themselves.
But if rocket science is overrated and running a train is simply applied physics and mechanics, while rocket science is doing the same but with more unknown variables, (ie. gravitational pull, solar flare, etc), it seems you may have underscored railroad engIneering, no?
I slightly disagree. Running a train isn't just applied physics and mechanics. That is a major part of it, but I think the cerebral aspect is overshadowed. I have been in a number of different positions in the railroad, so I have a perspective that few people have. It is an operation. It is a thinking man's game. It is doing everything that Desertdweller said and not only knowing how, but WHY and WHEN do it. There are literally 1000's of rules coursing through your brain that must be recalled and implemented as you move your train. THAT is what separates an "engineer" from a "brake and a gas," a "dispatcher" from a "line watcher," a "conductor" from a "fake fireman" or in passenger service, "a lead ticket taker."
I can take a 10 year old, put him in the seat, and say push this button, pull this lever back and move this forward, and guess what? He will be able to move the train. I can say push this forward, and the train will stop. Does that make him an engineer? Of course not.
This argument transcends the engine service craft. Railroading is about the textbook, but comes from the seat...from the experience. I have seen people that are "book smart," and can quote every rule and address every scenario go out in the field and not be able to apply that information to the task at hand. Conversely, I can go to people that have never had an incident, never been out of service and ask them what they just did and why and the answer is not pretty.
Railroading is the ultimate "cause and effect," and all of the training in the world can't help some people see outside their vision to gain the picture that is needed to be competent.