Become A Train Driver
What It Takes To Become A Train Driver
If you become a train driver you'll find yourself the owner of one or more job titles, depending upon who you're working for. You might be called a train driver, a railroad engineer, or simply and engineer. Some use the title of locomotive engineer. Whatever the title, there's a lot more involved than just blowing the horn or whistle at crossings, or when you enter a station.
One of the things you don't have to learn when you become a train driver, is how to turn. Trains don't do that well. You do need to know how to start and stop of course, the latter probably being the most important thing of all. You have to regulate the trains speed, and whether the train is carrying passengers or cargo, like the captain of a ship, you are responsible for the well being of what or who is being transported on your train.
Training And Apprenticeship - To become a train driver requires going to school. Just learning how to operate a locomotive is only part of the education, perhaps not even the major part. You'll learn the mechanics behind how a locomotive works, not that you'll be doing the repairs, but so you can sense when something is wrong or something needs maintenance or attention. As the train driver, you'll be expected to have good leadership skills. Everyone who is working on a moving train reports to the train driver in one manner or another. Once you pass your training program, it will probably be a while, perhaps a long while, before you actually find yourself behind the throttle. Part of the reason for this is the numbers game. There are more trained locomotive engineers than positions available, which is the way the railroads want it, and not the other way around. You might start out as a conductor, or even an assistant conductor. If you're going to be responsible for driving passenger trains, it's important that you know the day-to-day problems and responsibilities the conductor faces when dealing with passengers. As a train driver, you need to know the conductor's job also. You also need to know what the brakeman is supposed to do, so you can expect to have an assignment as a brakeman as a part of your apprenticeship.
As you travel around, during your apprenticeship, you'll be expected to familiarize yourself with the tracks, crossings, and stations you encounter. In doing so, you'll learn what speed is a safe one on a particular stretch of track, as well as being able to recognize locations or physical situations where you must proceed with some degree of watchfulness.
Apprenticeship Over – When you finally graduate to your position in the cab, you'll find that not only have you had to learn a great deal about the characteristics of the train and of its cargo, but that you'll have more than your share of paperwork to do. It goes with the job. One nice thing, if you work a regular route, you'll probably accumulate some friends along the way. These will be people you may never get a chance to talk to, but they'll wave to you as you come by on schedule, probably hoping to hear a blast from the horn in exchange.
Opportunities For Advancement - Most train drivers love their work, and are content to sit behind the throttle for many years, until eventually retiring. Moving upward is always a possible career choice of course. As your knowledge of trains, how to operate them, routes, and dealing with your crews increases, you might find yourself becoming a candidate for a position on the railroad company's management team. You could conceivably find yourself in a very high paying position, but probably one in which there is even more paperwork, and you no longer get to blow the horn or whistle. Becoming a train driver is a very worthwhile goal, and the job, as any train driver will tell you, is a very rewarding one. When you retire, maybe you can even get a job on a vintage steam locomotive.