Railroad Employee Roundhouse
This page is for various Railroad-related character types, until they have enough examples to split off into pages of their own.
: Notably remembered for having to walk along the top of the cars and stopping the train by manually turning the braking wheels. The brakeman also handled car couplings and track switches. This was a dangerous job in terms of life and limb, eventually made somewhat safer with the invention of air brakes and automatic couplings. The Railroad Brakeman is the train employee most likely to get into a Traintop Battle
: Also known as a Guard in British-English speaking countries
. The manager of a train and its crew, responsible for all areas other than the engine, which is the responsibility of the engineer. He makes sure all the freight is secure, and the train is cleared to move down the track. He signals the engineer when to start and stop the train. On passenger trains, the conductor also announces the route of the train, gives the "all aboard" and collects the passengers' tickets. (On large trains, the collection may be done by an assistant conductor.) While railroads were in their prime in the United States, the conductor traditionally rode in the last car of a train, the caboose. Modern trains have largely made the caboose obsolete, and the conductor is based near the front of the train. For some unfathomable reason, British railways have retired the title in favour of calling them a "train manager" instead. Some countries have one conductor per passenger car and one senior conductor (called "master of the train" in Russia) in charge of the whole train.
- "Mr. Conductor" from Shining Time Station, though he never seems to do any actual conducting.
- Young Frankenstein. Frederick rides in two trains, one in the U.S. and the other in Transylvania. The conductor is exactly the same guy in both trains, except he's wearing a different uniform. See it on YouTube, starting at 3:45.
- The Flying Pussyfoot of Baccano!! has a full complement of three conductors at the start of the trip. The oldest, Tony, mentions that this is his last run before he hangs up his cap. The middle-aged one is The Mole for the Lemures, and the youngest, well, that's even more spoilery.
- In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, Mario talks to the conductor quite a few times en route to Poshley Heights, including outside the train at Riverside Station.
- The conductors of the Corbetite Railway in Girl Genius are an odd combination of The Captain and Good Shepherd; the Corbetites are a quasi-monastic religious order dedicated to neutrality and running the absolute best train system Europa (or anywhere else) has ever seen, and the conductors' duty is to keep the trains running no matter what. At one point, the Wyrm of Limerick is stopped by an avalanche and its conductor and engineer respond to a passenger's flippant remark that it'll just be late by shouting "Blasphemy!" in unison.
- Galaxy Express 999 has the 999's mysterious conductor, who announces stops, performs small services for passengers, and enforces Galaxy Railways regulations. Hardly ever seen out of his blue uniform coat and cap, he has a strong resemblance to a Final Fantasy Black Mage.
- Skimbleshanks in Cats runs the Night Mail train, supervising all of the human crew members and looking after the passengers.
: The "driver" of a train. He's responsible for the maintenance of the engine, controls its speed, and requires an intimate knowledge of the route and its peculiarities. Railroad engineers are often portrayed as heroic in fiction, thanks in no small part to many railroad engineers in real life who sacrificed themselves to avoid a massive disaster.
- Perhaps the most famous Real Life engineer is John Luther "Casey" Jones, who was immortalized in song for his death in a crash (but having used his final moments to brake the train, preventing any other fatalities.)
- And later immortalized in a different song which complained that the train would never have crashed if the railroad had hired union employees instead of that dirty scab Casey Jones. Ironically, the real Casey Jones was a supporter of labor unions; his death was the result of a combination of low visibility, tricky track, confusion about signaling, the train having left Memphis late, and Jones wanting to make a record-breaking run (he'd gone from 85 minutes late to just two minutes short of schedule by the time of the crash).
- Mexican engineer Jesús García, the Hero of Nacozari. In 1907 a train full of explosives stationed at Nacozari, Sonora was on fire, so he drove it away from the town, saving it from impending doom. He was vaporized in the blast.
- Two famous drivers in Britain are Benjamin Gimbert, who was severely injured in World War II when a wagonload of depth charges caught fire on a freight train as it approached Soham. He uncoupled the wagon (directly behind the engine) from the rest of the train and drove the engine into a cutting. Amazingly, he survived. The other is John Axon, who, on realising his freight train was running away towards a station, stayed on the footplate, trying to stop his train and sounding the whistle in order to clear the station.
- Dick Simnel, inventor of the steam engine and driver of the Super Prototype Iron Girder in Raising Steam.
- In Paper Mario, the train is basically just an engine, and the engineer is the only one aboard aside from the passengers.
- In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, Mario talks to the engineer of the Excess Express twice: once for his autograph for Bub, and once to find out why the train is so empty on the third day...
- Girl Genius: The Corbetite order naturally puts its Sparks in the engineer's chair, which is part of why their operations are so fantastic. In the incident mentioned above, the Wyrm cleared an avalanche by breathing fire on it from the dragon's head on its engine.
- The General has Buster Keaton's character Johnnie Grey, who loves his engine about as much as his girl. The Confederate Army turns him away when he tries to enlist because he's in a vital profession (without explaining this to him), leaving him in place for a great locomotive chase when Union saboteurs steal his engine.
: Also known as a stoker, he is responsible for keeping the engine fire going properly and regulating the boiler. With the end of the steam era, this position has shifted to duties similar to the co-pilot of a plane, assisting the engineer and observing what's going on outside the train on the opposite side.
- Stoker Blake, the legendary master of shovel-dueling in Raising Steam. ( Who is actually Lord Vetinari taking a holiday.)
: Charged with managing train stations. They would manage other station employees like porters and ticket clerks and would be responsible for the safe and efficient running of the station. During the 19th Century they would live in a house near to the station, and in rural communities they would be considered fairly well-to-do. Station masters are increasingly less common with the advent of ticket machines, but "station managers" still exist at large and important stations.
- Inspector Gustave from both the film and book versions of Hugo is a good fictional example.
: A fairly important position, because they regulated the movement of trains so they wouldn't crash into each other. In olden days, they would work in a signalbox alongside the tracks, moving levers to operate points and signals. Today, railway signals are mostly automatic and computer-controlled, but rail traffic controllers are still very important.
- Charles Dickens wrote a short ghost story entitled The Signal-Man which is about the eponymous signalman, his lonely signal box located in an isolated railway cutting, and the supernatural occurrences that happen nearby.
: One of the many, many people responsible for building and maintaining the rails of the railroad. The most famous of these is John Henry of man vs. machine contest notoriety. An important subset of these workers were "gandy dancers", groups of men who would realign the rails using metal rods known as "gandys". A substantial number of laborers in The Wild West
were from China, and they have their own page at Chinese Laborer
. In the United Kingdom, the workers who built the railways were known as "navvies" or navigators. The term comes from the days of canals, which were known as "eternal navigations". The guys who did the maintenance were called "platelayers" after a type of rail used in the very early days of railways.
Western Union Man
: While the WU man does not derive his paycheck from and is not employed by the railroad, in rural areas, his office was often located inside the local railroad depot.
- Notably, The Station Master and the Signalman often shared the WU man's skillset since some railroads continued to use morse code to communicate with minor outlying checkpoint/signal stations even after WWII.