Guest post by Frederick Manfred Simon.
November 12, 2019
Aka, "The Seat," or as I tend to refer to it, "The Saddle." After all, it is an Iron Horse! The once ubiquitous "standard" AAR control stand is becoming a rare and venerable scene as these aging mares are pulling and putting in their last train hauling miles. Here, in the seat, the Hogger, plies his deft (and deftly plies), intuitive craft of locomotive engineering, i.e., train handling. To the citizen waiting for the train to pass at a grade crossing it may seem a simple task. It is not. Vigilance and control are constant and paramount: Even before the wheels begin to roll, myriad considerations and inspections are executed to ensure all is in good working order. Only then is the "Hiball" given between Engineer and Crew. Keeping the train rolling efficiently and safely requires diligent monitoring of tangible gauges (control stand) and intangible gauges (gut instinct). Sadly, today's hi-tech locomotives are equipped with "Trip Optimizers" that virtually "run" the train for the engineer, the arguable natural progression thereof begetting trains remotely or computer operated in the not too distant future.