Yesterday I went for the second day of training at the Bluegrass Railroad Museum. After a morning of procedures, videos, and tests, we spent the afternoon on the train.
After “kicking the tires” (literally – you have to kick the brake shoes to make sure they’re tight when applied and loose when released), we climbed aboard and went over procedures. I was first as “Conductor”, so I got to give the order “675, Highball Westbound!” that got us rolling out of the station.
We traveled west, with the locomotive in the lead till we reached Milner, about halfway down the line. There, I stopped the train and we began practicing reverse operations. These are tricky. The last car on the train, CNJ #1314, is what is known as an “MU Car”, which means it has train controls built into the tail end. Some of them are now inoperable, but the Conductor can still man the controls, and has the emergency brake, whistle, bell, and a radio.
On reverse moves (Eastbound), the Conductor must watch for trouble, and at crossings must ring the bell, sound the whistle, watch for cross traffic, and inform the Engineer of what is going on. It’s quite a handful of work, but manageable once you get “the hang of it”.
We’re having a followup session again next weekend. I hope to learn even more!