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So You Want To Be A Locomotive "Operator"
by Paul C. Jensen

YOU, YES, YOU, can be a locomotive "operator" for America's railroads. But do not worry --- it is not hard and, anyone can do it --- really... Switching out 100 car trains that have the locomotive 1.6 km [ 1 mile] away, moving along at 32 kmph [20 miles per hour] and crossing public road crossings at grade --- yes, yes you can do it, NOW ! Thanks to remote control locomotive technology, the future is here now! And the best part is that it only takes 80 [eighty] hours to train an operator.

You heard that right, 80 [eighty] hours and YOU can be a remote control locomotive operator! In the past, America's railroads would not even consider a person as a locomotive engineer unless he had 5 [five] years on the ground as a switchman. Even now, a locomotive engineer takes 6 months to train. However, new technology allows this learning process to be greatly accelerated.

How fast, you ask ?

Remote control locomotive technology allows the hamburger flippers (cook) at a fast food restaurant to to be fully qualified as a remote control locomotive operator in less time than it takes to complete a dating simulation video game.

80 Hours, that is all the time you need.

Mind you, 40 [forty] hours, half the training time, is spent in a classroom, learning the finer points of just getting the remote control unit to actually work.

The other 40 [forty] hours are spent in the field. In addition to learning about checking the locomotive for safety defects, enough sand and fuel to finish the day's work, other mechanical defects, insuring the brake shoes [pads] have enough material to stop the train, check the hand rails to know that they are safe, AND fill out all the paperwork to certify that the above was done and, yes, the remote control locomotive is now safe to operate.

Now, training with the remote control locomotive begins. The remote control locomotive is taken out 20 [twenty] car lengths away --- about 300 meters [ 1000 feet ] away and the trainee has to "drive' the locomotive to a stopped car and to couple to that car.

And thus completes remote control locomotive training.

You are now a certified remote control locomotive operator.

That is all there is to being a remote control operator

Do not worry if you did not quite get everything right --- "good enough" is just fine --- you will learn in time how to do it right. Maybe.

Do not worry if you hit a person, or an animal or whatever --- THEY should not have been there in the first place and besides, installing a video camera on the locomotive and linking the camera to the operator is just way too expensive and complex.

Do not worry if you derail --- since the locomotive engineer is no longer on the crew, even with a couple of derailments, the company should still be ahead from the cost savings, anyway - and another burger flipper can be found to replace the remote control operator who failed to keep track of what was going on 1.6 kilometers [ 1 mile ] away.

Do not worry about the loss of productivity --- Yes, remote control locomotives has been credited with a 33% slowdown over crews with an engineer, but that can be written off as a business expense, and besides, a global traffic jam from Hong Kong to Hamburg is just an excuse for more cuts in safety.

Do not worry if you "occasionally" have an accident with a loaded tank car filled with 90,800 kg [ 100 tons ] of something dangerous --- it is always the operator's fault since the technology of remote control locomotives is always infallible.

Do not worry if the Federal Railroad Administration critique remote control locomotive safety, Dick Cheney was a Vice - president of the Union Pacific railroad, and the Treasury Secretary of the USA is John Snow from the CSX railroad.

Everything is under control. Sleep tight everyone.

Paul C. Jensen

Paul Jensen, a railroard worker in Chicago recently attended an international labor rally against privatization , union busting and war in Tokyo on November 6,2005. He will be attending a similar rally which will be held next year and is interested in organizing a delegation of railway workers to participate and learn about the privatization of Japan Railways and the labor conditions for railway workers.

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