"How to be a Train Conductor"

By: Nicole Morten Email
By: Nicole Morten Email

When people think about shipping products and goods these days, they usually think about ships or trucks. But lately companies are turning to an older method of transportation, because it's still reliable and cost effective. NewsChannel 7’s Nicole Morten explains in her Weekly Segment: “Nicole Wants to Know."

When I was a little kid I remember seeing them from a distance---then trying to count the cars as quickly as I could. Before I knew it, they were gone. And I, like most kids, was left wondering what really goes on inside of a train. Well, thanks to the folks at Bayline Railroad, I now have a better perspective of a hard days work on the railroad.

Hauling 2,200 tons of cargo every day isn’t anything unusual for Eris Weeks.

“This is the Port job; we go to the Port of Panama City and service them.

He’s a Train Conductor for Bayline Railroad here in Panama City. It’s a short line railroad that’s been operating from Panama City to Dothan, Alabama, since 1908.

“Every morning I’ll get a list from Dothan, Alabama. Today we’ve got 12 carts of wood pellets, a grain source of energy that they export out of their port,” said Weeks.

Weeks has been working in the rail industry for 34 years. Whether he’s transporting coal or other goods, the conductor is at the center of the activity. That’s why communication is key.

Weeks communicates to engineers and dispatchers about track conditions, oversees porters and maids, and checks schedules. In short, he does whatever it takes to make sure the trip runs smoothly.

On the tracks, safety is top priority.

“The more informed you are,” said Weeks. “The less apt you are in making a mistake or an accident. We’ve got a really good safety record; we’ve been working since 1985 without an injury in this transportation department which is almost unheard of in the transportation industry.”

The railroad has been around for centuries, but now a’ days, tough times are calling for a more efficient way to transport goods and services.

“It’s a green way to haul,” said Weeks. “Railroading is an up and coming career because the energy crises were involved in right now, it only makes sense to refill a train with less fuel and you’re going to do that with a railroad, whereas trucks can’t offer that.”

Even with the economy in a downturn, they are seeing light at the end of the tunnel.

“There's a future in the railroad,” Weeks said. “A lot of people think it's dying out, but If you think about it, railroads far surpass automobiles…and there’s a reason for it."

If you want to know something interesting or unusual about a job or something in the community, shoot Nicole Morten an email at: nicole.morten@wjhg.com and your story could be on the next segment of "Nicole Wants to Know"

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