A good railroader knows the railroad better than the streets of their neighborhood.
You use all your senses, especially as a conductor who is in the back of the train and only sees out the side windows/doors, and not from the head end like the engineer.
You feel bumps in the tracks and switches, you feel curves, you hear (and sometimes smell) the brakes coming on, you smell smells that are unique to certain areas, all on top of looking out the window and actually seeing where you are.
the conductor must be physically qualifed just like the engineer, so they must know where they are, the name of the stations, interlockings, where the tracks and swtiches are, etc in case there is some kind of issue the engineer might encounter, and of course, in case the train might have to back up, the conductor would be on the leading end of the train while the engineer backs up....
On the RR, "believe nothing you hear and only half of what you see"
John, aka "JTGSHU" passed away on August 26, 2013. We honor his memory and his devotion to railroading at railroad.net.