• Funny Railroad Stories- By railroaders

  • 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 jogden
As a new student conductor, I got called out on the local passenger train from Anchorage to Fairbanks one weekend. That job had the crew work north, to Fairbanks, on Saturday, and return to Anchorage on Sunday. I was working with the most senior person on the railroad and two well seasoned engineers. In addition we had a student engineer, to make five of us total. The northbound trip was pretty uneventful, and even most of the southbound trip was quiet.

On Sunday, on the southbound trip, we had several large tour groups, which each had an escort to make sure the tour group members made all the appropriate connections between the bus and train at their origin and the train to the bus at their destination. Many of the tourists were foreigners too, and only spoke very basic English at best, so the tour escorts also served as interpreters if needed.

One group had boarded that morning in Healy, and was going to Wasilla. There were 22 in the group, and they and their tour escort were all seated in the first coach on the train. They were all very polite and for most of the trip, nothing unusual occurred. As we headed south, we lost a little time due to a couple speed restrictions and a longer than usual stop in Talkeetna, but even with the delays, we were still going to make it to Anchorage on our hours of service, so none of the crew was too concerned about it.

I was sitting at my makeshift office in the dining car with the Conductor, listening to him tell stories of his past 46 years with the railroad when the escort for this particular tour group approached me and asked when the train would be in Wasilla. I looked out the window to see that we were somewhere near Montana siding. Being my first southbound passenger trip, I was not entirely sure of the running times yet, so I told her, "Well, normally we would be there around 6:30, but we are running a little behind today, but we will make an announcement about ten minutes before we get there."
She said, "I want to let everyone know when they should start getting ready to go, so what time should I tell them?"
Again, I said, "We will make an announcement about ten minutes before we get to Wasilla, that should give everyone enough time to get ready. Just listen for the announcement."
Then she asked me, "We are supposed to get there at 6:30?"
"Yes, but we are running a little late today" I said.
She said, "Well I will tell everyone to get ready at 6:20, do you think that will be enough time?"
I said, "You should probably wait for the announcement, because we will probably be getting to Wasilla a little later than 6:30 today, probably about fifteen minutes late." I had not wanted to giver her a specific amount of time we were late, because I was not 100% sure myself. This whole time my Conductor was telling stories with the cook and she never asked him anything about this.
She replied, "Okay, that sounds good." I thought that was the end of it, but I was wrong.

At about 6:25pm, I walked back to the coaches to find the on board service manager and ask him about a bathroom that had been giving us problems. I wanted to write it up for the carmen before I forgot about it. As I was walking back to talk to him, I found that the entire tour group getting off at Wasilla was standing at the back of the coach, near the door, with their coats on and luggage in hand. Closest to the door was this tour director I had talked to earlier about arrival time in Wasilla. I told her again that we were running late and would not be in Wasilla for at least another 20 to 25 minutes. She said "okay," and that was it. I went and got the information I was seeking and returned to the dining car to write it down.

At 6:31pm, as I was filling out the coach inspection forms, this tour director marched into the dining car and approached me. Before she said anything, I could tell she was upset about something. I didn't have to ask what the problem was, because she immediately began shouting at me, "You lied to me! You lied to me! You said we would get to Wasilla at 6:30, and we aren't there yet! You made me look bad in front of my group, because you gave me bad information! You are in uniform, you should can't do that! You can't lie to me when we are late!"
I tried to remain calm and told her again, "We are running a few minutes late, but we will be there soon."
Obviously we were not there yet, and it didn't seem to matter how soon we would be there. She continued, "I got everyone ready to go because you told me we would get there at 6:30 and we aren't there! You can't lie to me like that!"
My Conductor was sitting there listening to this and decided to step in. He asked her, "Did you hear any announcements?"
"He told you we would make an announcement, why didn't you wait for the announcement?"
She replied, "Because he told me 6:30, he lied to me! He is in uniform, he has to know these things! He can't lie to me!"
My Conductor at that point had had enough and threw his hands up and said, "I'm done talking about this. We will make an announcement when we get close."
She was not finished though, and continued to explain, "You can't lie to me! You have to know these things, you wear a uniform!"
By this point my Conductor was losing patience fast for this nonsense and said, "I said we are done talking about this! Go back to the coach and wait for the announcement! We will be there soon."
She stormed out of the dining car and back to the coach. I started to explain what I had told her to the Conductor, but he interrupted me and assured me that he had heard the whole thing and had my back.

A couple of minutes later, as we were approaching Pittman, we spotted a moose on the right hand side of the train. Now most of the people who ride the train in Alaska are hoping to see some wildlife, so this was exciting for everyone in the dining car. My Conductor announced there was a moose on the right, and the cameras all came out. As everyone was peering out the window, he was standing in the middle of the car, also looking out the window and shouted, "Moose, you are late! You can't be late like that! You are late, Moose!" I was slightly shocked, but all the passengers in the dining car started clapping!
  by Gadfly
All you railroad guys know that when using the radio, you dare'st not cuss. You'd get into real trouble. Two "funnies" come to mind in the twilight of my years.
One night I was riding pass back from Greensboro NC aboard the Southern Crescent (before Amtrak). The Division ends there, and this where some of the stewards and cooks were to get off. Naturally, some of these people formed "bonds", if you get my drift! :wink: Well, Mr Derryberry, the conductor, got his signal to leave (via radio), the board went "high green",and he radioed Mr Ambrose, the engineer. "Awrite, George, le's leave heah on this h'yar Southern #1, OVAH!!!"

George replied in his familiar drawl, "Aw---rat, Mr. Derryberry, here we go"! "BAAAAANT-BAANT", went the Nathan horn...CHOOOOOOO-UP!" Went the brakes coming up. And the big 567's began to chant in the familiar way as the big "green & gold" Southern E8s began to lean into the task.

We had rolled maybe 200 feet when suddenly Mr Derryberry comes onto the radio shouting, "WAIT A MINUTE, GEORGE, I'VE GOT AN EASTERN DIVISION COOK THAT DIDN'T GET OFF YET!!!!! OVAH"!!

Calmly, my friend George ceased the chant of the diesels and said, oh so relaxed, "Aw'rite, Mr. Derryberry, we're stopping"! SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEEECH, went the brakes!

The diesels sat there idling for a few moments.



Once again the big GM diesels leaned into the task, and we started again, bound for Charlotte.

All of a sudden, the conductor bursts onto the radio, "WAIT A MINUTE, GEORGE, THAT SUMBITCH AIN'T OFF YET!!!!!!!!" :-D :-D :-D

"Mr Derryberry was HOT under the collar and totally forgot about radio protocol!!!!!!!

And we stopped yet again for a few minutes.

After a long pause, he comes on and says, "Next time he does that, I'll take him AND his girlfriend in the diner to Greenville (SC) with me and he'll have to WALK back!!!!!!!!! :P

I'd be willing to bet that cook got a real earful before he finally got off that train!!!!!! LMAO!!!
  by ACeInTheHole
Thats a prretty funny one. Gadfly, heads up, theres a wildlife collisions thread going on in the Amtrak forum, a bunch of the guys are telling funny stories. I feel like youd have one or two good ones at least to share there.
  by Gadfly
Here's another one I promised to share.

One night I was working 2nd trick Operator/Agent at Gastonia, NC. Around 7 PM, I got out my sandwich to observe my minutes (you didn't get a lunch/meal break of 30 min or an hour, but 20 minutes in which to gulp down a sandwich or crackers). A southbound was down at the yard setting off a cut while I relaxed during a lull in activity. The radio convo went something like this.

"Southern #119 to Dispatcher, Greenville.......uh, we're ready to leave Gastonia, OVAH!"

Now this dispatcher (we'll call him Mason) had a noticable southern drawl, and he replied, "AH, Southern 119, Ah've got #122 a-comin' Naw'th, and I think it would be best fer you'uns to set right 'ere in Gastonia until we get him by, Ovah!"

The conductor, anxious to get going, asked, "Where's 122 at, Ovah"?

Mason drawled, "Waal, he's at Grover ( NC, about 25-odd miles south), Ovah". Sewell was about 8 miles further south towards Grover, and considering the speed of the two heavy freights, and the signals, it would be PLENTY of time for 119 to roll south and clear up at Sewell.

But, No, being the ever cautious dispatcher Mason was, nothing doing. "Nah, Ah 'thank' that's a bit too close on time, an' I'm gonna holdjee at Gasto-nee, Ovah!"
So the signal burned red into the souls of the crew that wanted to get home to home and hearth, and they burned with irritation!

Very upset by this delay that they saw as unnecessary, they began to MOCK Mason over the radio, imitating his southern drawl, not realizing that there was a microwave relay tower just south of my station and the yard. Their handy talkies could EASILY be heard all over the Piedmont Division! :-D Mason was sitting down in Greenville, SC listening to every word of ridicule the trainmen heaped upon him.

"Yeah," the men mocked, "Ah'm gonna have to holdjee at Grover, Over", making it pointedly rhyme!

'Yup, we ain't got nuttin' else to do except 'set' in the clear all th' livelong na'ght a-waitin' on phantom trains, OVAH!!!!!"

This went on for several minutes as the trainmen took out their annoyance on Mason.


And suddenly it got ever so quiet. Not a PEEP from the radio!

I 'bout turned over out of my chair laughing so hard! :-D