• Questions about life as 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 conrail_engineer
CN_Hogger wrote:
charlie6017 wrote: Conductors are always busy, too--even though they are not running the locomotives. They have a lot to do as well, and the hours are every bit as screwy.
Busy doing what? Sleeping? It's a treat to have a conductor who doesn't sleep, makes that trip in the wee hours a lot better.

As an old head told me once, a lot of condutors are grade indicators, head towards the ceiling for uphill and head towards the floor for downhill.
Guess it depends on the road. On the CSX, the conductor:

Needs to call signals on the radio, by name, aspect, train ID, track and direction;

Needs to fill out his Trip Log, noting each signal by aspect and train speed;

Needs to read the Dispatcher's Bulletins to me, since I've ruined my eyes with that fine computer print and can't read without special reading glasses anymore. Typically there about eight pages of slow orders and off-the-wall stuff, like crossing gates inoperative, mixed in with bull---- like "bad walking conditions."

Needs to go back to any trailing units whenever they crap out, which seems to happen just about every trip.

He's my right hand, and I need him as much.

  by conrail_engineer
2005Vdub wrote:wondered the samething for a while.

what about raido's? i saw a brand new sd70m-2 i believe it was with a car radio installed at the bottom of the control stand. Like a small sony cd/radio.

what do they do to pass the time?
See above post.

With all that's going on at 50-60 mph, I don't have time to listen to CDs. I have to listen to the radio; and since radio transmissions are frequently poor quality, that sometimes takes a sharp ear.

I need to watch and listen to other stuff as well. Stopping a train is a complecated thing, what with stopping distance, slack management, and CSX policies regarding train handling (backed up with real-time GPS reporting).

I can assure you, there are NO AM/FM-CD players in new locomotives. What you saw was probably a railroad two-way radio...not all of them have hand-held mikes.

  by conrail_engineer
gprimr1 wrote: I read that alot of engines do have air conditioning (I'm hoping BNSF and UP would have AC). Is that true?
Some do and some don't. And the a/c on some that have it, it doesn't always work.

About 2/3 of the time I have to do without. On Western roads it may not be that bad.

[quoote]I've read that locomotives have outlets in them and someone mentioned a fridge. How does that work?[/quote]

Most of the refrigerators are fastened into recesses. Only a few I've seen have a plug available. And the power may or may not be 74V DC.

That is what the power outlet is. If you want to heat coffee...IF you want to lug a hot plate around, on top of your other books...you can use it for that. But running a computer or other household appliance...forget it.
I guess I'm curious about what amenities are offered. I think it's kind of cool if they do give you power because it could get boring sitting on a sidding for hours or waiting on a mainline (I saw a CSX train sitting on the B&O mainline so I would hope he could whip out a laptop or something.
That's the job. You make your OWN fun with your dead time. And your fun better be light; because you're going to be toting it around.

I carry a laptop but seldom do I have the space to set it up. And then I'm showered with annoying questions about what I'm doing...heck with it. I pack paperbacks. (I try to pick worthwhile books).
Now for my final question:

I have IBS so this is a major player in my decesion.
Facilities are primitive and usually filthy. You can use a filthy john...once in a while. If it's a daily occurrance you will get tired of it fast.
jz441 wrote:Unfortunately, those days are over where I work. The roster of conductors is so young, that they don't know their own job, let alone to run the 10,000t train while I'm cutting logs.
There's where my military training served me well. Sentry duty...you're not allowed bathroom breaks. Okay, you take them...but you understand that you're not to get caught taking them. So you plan accordingly.

Food-and-beverage management means more to me than packing a lunch. I make it a point to use the john before starting out; and I eat VERY light on the job. And beverages? I used to take a thermos of coffee. That results in other needs, so I no longer do that. Water; water only. Coffee is for terminals.

That, too is of necessity. With the coming of female conductors, I'm not always free to whiz over the railing. We have a scheduled fuel stop midway in the run; that allows a pit stop.

Since I don't get the caffeine, I try to stay alert by chewing nicotine gum. And if I really get drowsy, I keep No-Doze (caffeine tablets) in my grip.

  by GN 599
Blowing the whistle and waving at the kids is what makes the job all worth while. :-D

  by slchub
The only thing I can blow my horn and wave at are snakes and rabbits!

SNAKES????? I will be there tomorrow!!!! I will bail off , at 30, to snag a snake. Long walk back to the head-end, though........ :( Same goes for Chuckwallas, Gilas and Collared Lizards.............. :P

  by mikesummer
gprimr1 wrote:
Now for the real question:

Do you guys get uncomfortable when the tracks go through bad parts of town, especially at night or is the engine bullet proof and lockable?
FYI - FRA Glazed windows should withstand up to .22 caliber. Anything higher will penetrate but velocity will be diminished.

  by Ironman
conrail_engineer, well said.

The conductor and engineer are a team. As conductor, I remind my engineer of speed restrictions and conditonal stop signs. I do the radio work so that he can do his work of safely bringing the train down the mountain. I call each CP signal over the radio, and whenever the cab signal changes we call it to each other. The list of things could go on, but basically I believe the conductor is vital to the safe operation of the train.

I've noticed this board has a thing about using the restroom on an engine. Using it is really not that big of a deal. It's a non-issue. If it smells, then that's a problem.

A lot of time is spent not moving. During this time we BS, read books, eat, walk around ect. I mean whatever you do when you have nothing to do.

I do get nervous sometimes in bad parts of towns, and in the woods. I'm out there in the middle of the night with a lantern and a fusee. The fusee is good for getting rid of wild animals, but for people I'd rather have a firearm.

AC is a mixed blessing. One minute I'm outside sweating setting off or picking up in the hot and humid night air. The next I'm on the engine freezing.

I'm not " company" but for me, this is the best job I ever had.

  by GN 599
Hire out with the railroad.

  by BlackDog
The greatest part about being an engineer is when you are stopped in emergency and the cab is right on a crossing, preferably a busy one. All sorts of nice people joyously tooting their horns, waving at you, telling you that they think you are number 1 (or 11), concerned about how you get along with your mother...

  by GN 599
slchub wrote:The only thing I can blow my horn and wave at are snakes and rabbits!
Snakes heh, so theres lots of officials out and about where you work eh shlub. :-D

  by slchub
Sometimes we'll see a Manager but not too often. Our Managers are pretty darn cool. But for the most part going east out of Vegas we have one major public crossing where there is traffic. Then for the next 235 miles nothing but desert, canyon and high plains. A few farmers crossings here and there but no no major towns or cities (Caliente has a crossing but is a small town) once you leave Vegas. Very desolate run. I guess it beats having to punch that horn button 4 times at each crossing 100 or more times like some guys have to do on their trips.

Huge difference, between snakes, and "Weed Weasels"......... :-D
I had one sorry-ass MOP, in Houston, come for a ride, so he could see firsthand, what a DP train was all about. He promptly fell asleep, in the center seat, snoring loudly, and farting all night. He then had the audacity to "write me up", claiming I wasn't blowing the horn long enough, to suit him. Windows closed, A/C on, and he was snoring louder than the horn, inside that SD-90 cab. What a worthless piece of s#@%!!!!!! Too bad I never got the chance, to couple him up............... :P