• Operating Policies / Discipline Policies

  • General discussion related to all railroad clubs, museums, tourist and scenic lines. Generally this covers museums with static displays, museums that operate excursions, scenic lines that have museums, and so on. Check out the Tourist Railway Association (TRAIN) for more information.
General discussion related to all railroad clubs, museums, tourist and scenic lines. Generally this covers museums with static displays, museums that operate excursions, scenic lines that have museums, and so on. Check out the Tourist Railway Association (TRAIN) for more information.

Moderators: Miketherailfan, rob216

  by rbarcus
 
I'm doing some additional research into the different operating policies that other museums/tourist railroads may have in place concerning operating department personnel and would like to compare them to revamp our own policies. So basically, if someone violates a rule out of the rulebook or special instructions in the timetable, what does your organization do?

Here's some of the points I would like discussed and addressed (along with any of your other thoughts/suggestions):

1) Does your organization even have a discipline policy in place?
2) Does your organization have different levels of severity for rule infractions?
3) Are there repercussions in your organization for violating rules?
4) What type of discipline is administered to an individual who violates a rule?
5) Who administers the appropriate level of punishment?

I realize that many organizations are run by volunteers, but I'm willing to guess that many of you must have some type of policy already in place that we can model our new policy on. If you want to discuss it off-board, I'm fine with that as well, just shoot me private message.

Thanks!
  by Otto Vondrak
 
We have an operating railroad museum, and with it, a timetable and rulebook and rigorous training program. We also share our railroad with another museum, so we must be aware of their operating rights as well. We take the rulebook and timetable very seriously, and we do have disciplinary guidelines which we follow...
  by litz
 
The thing to remember here is, volunteer or not, the rules are the rules.

If the rulebook says do it, you do it. If you don't, the rulebook lists what the repercussions are.

And if you serve the public (and/or are connected to public track) the FRA may well want to get involved too.

Whether or not you get paid for your railroad duties matters nothing when the time for fines rolls around.

- litz
  by Otto Vondrak
 
If you're moving trains and carrying people, you've got to run a tight ship. Especially more so if you have FRA oversight and you're connected to the national network...
  by GSC
 
I have over 40 years in museum rail service, doing everything over the years, from administration to operations, even cutting the grass. Years ago we were more of a club, but we did follow the rule book. As time went on, with government agencies starting to look at us, insurance costs skyrocketing, and the public more lawsuit-happy than ever, the rules had to be tightened as needed and really had to be followed to the letter. All operating personnel have to be safety tested as well, you can't punch tickets if you haven't passed the test.

The shop came under very heavy scrutiny when we applied for and received our R-stamp boiler repair permits.

I hate wearing reflector vests and hardhats, but rules are rules, and we have to go by them to be allowed to work on the property. Thankfully, rule infractions have been few and far between.
  by ohioriverrailway
 
rbarcus wrote:I'm doing some additional research into the different operating policies that other museums/tourist railroads may have in place concerning operating department personnel and would like to compare them to revamp our own policies. So basically, if someone violates a rule out of the rulebook or special instructions in the timetable, what does your organization do?
Thanks!
ARM can't help you with that question?
  by Noel Weaver
 
I have said this before but it needs to be said again. If you are a certified engineer with a passenger or freight railroad and
depend on your certification for a living, it is not a good idea to use that same certification to volunteer for a tourist or
other railroad that also requires certification. Reason being that if you are nailed for a violation on a tourist railroad that
same certificate can revoke your right to operate a train on your main source of employement. If you do chose to operate
for another railroad as a volunteer you MIGHT get around this by a seperate certification for the tourist railroad.
I got this from the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers some years ago and I doubt if it has changed at least gotten any
simpler.
Noel Weaver
  by rbarcus
 
ARM can't help you with that question?
I have written to them and I'm awaiting a response. However, I feel pretty strongly in hearing what people are doing "in the field" basically. Real life situations can give a lot of insight.
  by rbarcus
 
The nice part about our museum is that we do have our own rulebook, timetable, and bulletins that we follow as well as those of the host railroad. My classroom training was rather extensive and was taught by two very experienced gentlemen that went into detail on every conceivable subject (one was a college professor and the other was an attorney, both with extensive railroad experience). What I'm trying to develop is a suitable discipline policy for an all-volunteer museum that isn't too harsh or too lenient and offers flexibility.

I am a firm believer in the sharing of information - so keep talking! Every sentence helps...
  by rbarcus
 
litz wrote:And if you serve the public (and/or are connected to public track) the FRA may well want to get involved too.
That's true - if you're connected to the general system like we are, you gotta do everything right and by the book - which is why our crews are certified and qualified; blue-carded, daily inspections, class I brake tests; we are subject to regular FRA inspections, etc. etc. etc...
  by litz
 
Even more, the group I work with is owned by a parent railroad which itself is an operating shortline.

Not only do we qualify for our scenic rail service, but we have to qualify for the freight rules as well.

Same classes, same yearly certifications, everything. The only thing we don't qualify for (because we don't need to) is freight train brake tests. In our rule book, passenger trains use a different brake test procedure.

And yes, to the original poster, this is even though we're volunteer crew. We've had substitute engineers from the freight service up to drive our train, and they often comment about our professionalism, and for the first time guys, it often surprises them how well trained the volunteer crew is, and how well we operate. We pride ourselves on being a first class operation, and it shows.

- litz
  by Engineer Spike
 
Not all tourist railroads are so well run. I recently rode one where the "engineer" knocked everyone over with every start and stop. A coworker of mine volunteers there, and says that those in charge will not do anything about it. That tourist line is on one of our former branches. They want to run on our main track to the station, which is a tourist town, and has Amtrak service. Based on that, I don't feel very safe about these weekend warriors sharing the track with passengers and 10,000 + ton freights.
Rbarcus said that the rules guys told him about every possible situation. That is something to be careful of. Any second something unexpected could happen.

As to Noel's point, it is well taken. It is also harder for a professional railroader to volunteer, if it is covered service. With the new hours of service laws, there are weekly and monthly caps. If you work for BNSF, but volunteered for a day at a tourist line, in covered service, that time counts. I can just see telling a crew caller that you can't work because you got your 6th start on a tourist line.

I still say that I am not crazy about tourist lines. On one hand, it is hard to get in trouble at 10mph. On the other hand, when you need a tooth pulled, why don't you come to my house so I can extract it with a pair of pliers? Because I am not a professional dentist! Leave a professional's job to a professional!
  by GSC
 
Wouldn't someone certified on established FRA rules and regs be considered qualified even if he wasn't being paid? Does a paycheck make someone "professional"?

Yes, there are plenty of sloppy volunteers, and there are bad dentists too.
  by gp80mac
 
I've known plenty of paid RRers that I wouldn't even begin to consider "professional".