• So how often do you get to ride along?

  • 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 Spokker
I would ask to have this moved to the proper forum, but it will most likely be deleted because I fail to see a forum for bad railfan behavior.

So how often do you get invited to ride in the cab of a locomotive? How often do you accept? We've heard testimony and saw evidence that demonstrates how easy it was to do on Metrolink.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article/a ... 746S07.DTL
Sanchez: I'm REALLY looking forward to getting you in the cab and showing you how to run a locomotive

Teen: (Oh my god) dude me too. Running a locomotive. Having all of that in the palms of my hands. Its a great feeling. And ill do it so good from all my practice on the simulator.

Sanchez: heh heh heh
Man, it must be a dream to handle a locmotive like that, to endanger the lives of hundreds of commuters.

I hope we can have a good discussion before this thread is deleted outright. Unfortunately railfans are saints and never do anything wrong and I will be banned. Moderators, please show you have some guts and move this to the proper forum.
  by Gilbert B Norman
I think I can safely report that during March 1956, I did have a cab ride initiated by the Conductor and of course assented to by the Engineer from Dover Plains NY to Millerton along the NYC Harlem Division. The locomotive was an Alco RS-3.

During my eleven years in the railroad industry (MILW 1970-81) I of course had various properly credentialed cab rides (including one such in an Amtrak SDP-40F); I even once operated under the supervision of a Mechanical Foreman a GP-40 within switch points at my road's Cedar Rapids Engine House. I had it at "notch 2' and attained not more than 5mph.

"That's all folks'
  by R Paul Carey
This is, to say the least, a sensitive topic - for several reasons. The Metrolink incident carries some unseemly context beyond the question of unauthorized riders and/or unauthorized operators.

Prior to certification of locomotive engineers (1992), each road had its own policies with regard to non-employee riders in the cab, nearly all requiring an official authorization, a release of liability, and often - a supervisory official on board. Passenger fares, where applicable, were usually collected. Unauthorized operation, of course, was NEVER sanctioned.

My cab rides began at age 5 - on NYC and later that same year, in Island Pond VT on the GT. For me, it sealed a fascination with the industry that led to a career. There were many other rides between then (1955) and the start of my employment in the industry (1971) over the NYC and LIRR. I had the privilege of riding steam, diesel and electric.

In the 1950's and 60's, I discovered that railroaders everywhere were friendly and more than willing to share their knowledge and experiences, and more willing than not (usually) to accommodate a cab visit or ride... How many of you recall the hilarious series of photos - engineers looking back, or down from the cab or gangway, saying... "David P. WHO wants to ride the cab??"

This of course was the legendary David P. Morgan of Trains magazine; I am sure it represented his experiences - and it reminded me of mine, too!!

Since 1971, when I was working, I frequently rode the head end in accordance with my authority, and often arranged for others to do so as well, thinking that my successors could well be amongst the younger people showing interest in our operations. There are many Road Foremen to whom I remain indebted, as they had the sometimes unwelcome duty to accommodate many of these riders.

The Chatsworth event continues to revealing chilling details.

Like others of my generation, I, too, had experience operating engines, both in the USA and in Canada - all prior to the enactment of the applicable Federal regulations. When the regulations took effect in 1992, I met the necessary qualifications.

As a manager, I could not (and did not) sanction what was done in prior years when I was allowed to operate in many places, and have regaled a select few in the industry with accounts of what happened - and what could have happened.

For reasons that should be plain to understand, the detailed accounts of these officially unauthorized operating experiences are only shared where most necessary (or useful to others); otherwise, it would be better if they were allowed to simply pass to the grave...

Thanks, Gil, for opening an important (and timely) discussion topic.
  by R Paul Carey
Just a clarification - thanks Spokker for opening the topic, and thanks to you, Gil, for your post!
  by NellieBly
As most who read posts in this forum are aware, I've been in various railroad industry positions for more than 30 years. During that time (and with appropriate permissions), I've had many head-end rides. i've also operated rapid transit equipment (in yards only), but I've never, never accepted an invitation to "run it" by an engineer or road foreman. Why? That should be obvious. I'm not a qualified engineer (although I've operated simulators -- NOT Microsoft, either, but the "full motion" ones at railroad training centers). I've also done a lot of computer simulation of train operations to estimate running times, buff and draft forces, fuel consumption, etc. But I wouldn't EVER try to run a commuter train with people on it.

Sanchez was a "rogue engineer" who should have been dismissed. But any railfan who accepts an invitation of that kind is equally culpable. If you were flying to Asia on a 747, would you accept an invitation to "come fly the plane for a while"?

Let's make this very clear: railroad buffs may be fine people, but they are *not* trained professionals, and they have no business whatever in the cab of a locomotive unless permitted by the management of the company operating the train, accompanied by a trainmaster or road foreman of engines, equipped with the appropriate personal protective equipment, etc.

Long ago, I took a two-day safety course on the New York transit system. We spent the first day learning the rules, and then the second we went out to walk some track. One of the managers who worked for me exclaimed, "There's about 50 ways to get killed out here!" Got that right.
  by MRBJ
I have never been in the cab of any locomotive of a Class I railroad, simply because I never ask. I understand that for railroaders it is a full time job, not a hobby. If they want to talk to me when I am railfanning thats fine, but I will never approach a railroader because they have their work to do and thats fine. As far as cab rides, I dont see anything wrong with them. But allowing unauthorized personnel to operate a commuter train is a little over the line. I once drove an RS3 about 1/4 of a mile on musuem trackage. The speed never exceeded 10mph. Musuems are a different story. But I think peopleneed to understand the fine line between work and play when it comes to trains on a Class I,or any other operating railroad.
  by Gilbert B Norman
I guess another "cab ride" of sorts I can safely acknowledge is a Flight Deck visit circa 1957 on a United DC-7 in flight somewhere between KIDL and KDEN. I think it is a safe assumption that the Captain, First Officer, and Flight Engineer are all now deceased.

There's a "never again".

BTW, I am gratified to see this discussion moving forth in such a mature and respectful manner. If I were still 'at the throttle' around here, it would stand.
  by D.Carleton
I have been in the cab many times on many roads including NRPC. Most were not ‘authorized’ and I speak of it freely since those involved have since retired or passed away. These sojourns were intended to pass along years of experience and a deep appreciation for this craft we call railroading. Ultimately it was expected that those of us fortunate enough to have received this exposure would continue in an official capacity and one day succeed our elders. (For the record, at the suggestion of a union steward, I sought different pastures.) It pains me greatly to see this once common tradition perverted and vilified as it is today.
  by Darien Red Sox
When I was about 5 years old I had a train ride for my birthday party on the New Cannan branch on Metro North and the engineer let every one control the train with his assistance. There was one other cab ride I had which I won't mention hear.
  by Gilbert B Norman
Mr. Red Sox, in view of this readily accessible profile you have posted at another site as well as what you have posted here, It appears your Stmfd-NC 'birthday ride' occurred sixteen years ago. IIRC, New Canaan Branch service was held by New Haven RR men "with whiskers', so I'll accept that any involved have now left service or even traveled beyond "the next station to Heaven".
  by Ocala Mike
I never experienced a ride in a cab, but I've probably logged many thousands of miles riding in the head end of subway cars or railroad mu cars getting the "engineer's-eye view."

I did, interestingly enough, once get invited to a cockpit ride in a USAF C-118 (DC-6) en route from Richards-Gebaur AFB near Kansas City, Mo to Stewart AFB, NY circa late 1965. I was a Lieutenant in the AF at the time, but strictly a ground-pounder communications officer. I was on a "hop" back on leave going home to NY, and the crew had me sitting in the pilot's seat for a while "flying" the damn thing. It was quite an experience, and I still remember the "Douglas" logo in the middle of the "stick" (wheel)!
  by Tadman
MOD NOTE: To stay within our policy of not mentioning rule violations, let's keep this discussion to "pre-certification" times, IE pre-1992. Otherwise the thread will be immediately locked and left to die.

My only time in the cab before that was a quit sit-in around 1986 on a stationary #48 at BOS. We were visiting Dad at grad school and the train was the highlight of my trip. I've got a few pics somewhere.
  by TomNelligan
Let's just say it was a very diferent world in decades past, when liability was less of an issue and the rules were sometimes bent by friendly crews. While I was never invited to touch the controls of a moving locomotive, nor would I have wanted to, I did have the opportunity to ride up front on occasion, like many railfans of the period. RDCs in both the US and Canada seemed to offer the most frequent opportunities for cab rides due to the easy access from the passenger compartment. In fact I remember three different cases in Canada back in the 1980s when a VIA crew on a branchline RDC run noticed me shooting photos at an intermediate stop and suggested that I might want to ride the cab for a better view! I somehow doubt that would happen today, even if the routes in question were still operating.
  by NellieBly
Well okay, in the interest of full disclosure my first actual cab ride was at the age of five, when the grandfatherly engineer of an RDC operating from Watertown to Massena, NY invited me to stand on a stool in the cab and blow the whistle for grade crossings. I never forgot the experience.

Certainly those sorts of things happened now and then in the days before locomotive engineer certification. I had a number of "head end" and rear cab rides on SEPTA RDCs around Philadelphia, on the TH&B from Toronto to Buffalo, and a few other places. I sat in the cab of a (non moving) GG1, too. All these were "unofficial" rides. While I'm grateful to the crews and thankful for their generosity, it probably wasn't the greatest idea to let a stranger into the cab.

But much the greater part of my cab riding has been "official".