In recent years railway transportation has witnessed a phenomenal growth and success in its operations. Its unique qualities and benefits over other modes of public transport contribute to its big success. Many passengers prefer to make use of rail transport for their long and short journeys because it is reliable, faster, economical and also free from heavy traffic. For instance, for both long-distance and sub-urban routes, Indian Railway (IR) operates more than 20,000 passenger trains daily across India. (https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › Indian_Railways)
It is also estimated in India that an average 30 million passengers make use of railway transport every day. ( https://www.quora.com › On-average-how-many-people-are-on-the-go-in-a-
According to Wikipedia, in 2018 Amtrak served 31.7 million passengers. With the given figures, it is clear that millions of people around the world make use of railway transport daily. Likewise, rail transport can also be used to move bulk of goods or large percentage of cargoes around the world daily. For instance, between 2012 and 2013, India Railway moved 1,010 million tons of cargo while in 2017, 1,106 billion tons of goods were moved in India (Wikipedia). In Canada in 2018, 34.7 million tons of freight were moved by rail transport (October 2018- Statistics Canada). In 2017, Germany Railway moved 400 million tons of cargoes (The Federal Statistical Office).
Needless to say that rail transport plays two key roles as over-land public transport in moving cargo and people in large numbers. However, despite these two key roles and the fact that railway transport is free from traffic jam, yet, it is not free from accidents. Here are rail accidents in 2018:
- On 16th October 2018, close to Bouknadel area in Morocco, a passenger train derailed; not more than 7 people died and 125 people were injured.
- On 19th October 2018, at the eastern outskirts of Amritsar, Punjab, two Indian passenger trains ran into a gathering of people who came together on the railway track to witness Hindu celebration of Dussehra; not less than 59 people were killed while not less than 100 people were injured.
- On 4th October 2018, two trains collided in Cayce, South Carolina, of Columbia. Amtrak Silver Star passenger train from New York City collided with stationary CSX Transportation freight train; 2 people were killed while 116 people were injured.
- In 2018, Corlu train in Turkey derailed; 24 people died and 276 were injured while 42 people were seriously injured.
- On 31st January 2018, an accident occurred at Lanetown Road in Crozet when the Amtrak train known as Congressional Special Train 923 collided with a refuse disposal van at a level crossing. No death or serious injury was recorded.
- On 4th January 2018, a train in South Africa derailed after it collided with a truck at a level crossing at Ceneva Station. It was noted that after the derailment, 7 out of the 12 coaches were burnt. However, 21 people were killed in the accident while 254 passengers were injured.
- On 13th December 2018, a passenger train collided with a locomotive train in an area close to Yenimahalie in Ankara Province, Turkey. At the occurrence of the accident, 9 people died and 84 people were injured.
- On 12th February 2018, two trains collided in Austria at Niklasdorf. The coaches of the two trains derailed leading to the death of a passenger while 22 passengers were injured.
- On 20th September 2018, a train collided at a level crossing with a Stint cart at Oss, North Brabant, Netherlands. The occupants of the cart were children; four of them died in the accident while two of them were seriously injured.
- On 25th January 2018, a passenger train derailed in Pioltello. Three people died in the accident while 100 people were injured.
- On 21st October 2018, a train derailed in Taiwan in an area known as Yilan County. The rail accident killed 18 people and injured 187 passengers.
- On 24th July 2018, a railway accident in India at St Thomas Mount Station on Chennai Beach- Tambaram section killed 5 people and injured 4 people. The accident occurred when a wall hit the passenger hanging on the train doors.
Railway accident is often traceable to human error, therefore, safety must not be underestimated in railway operations.
Over decades, rail transport has been playing a key role in building nations by carrying thousands of goods and people across a particular nation on trips of business, discovery and pleasure, as well as opening up the vast open spaces, thereby creating development and market opportunities. To this end, the following are the most notable rail distances in the world:
. A rail trip between Moscow in Russia and Pyongyang in North Korea is the longest distance rail trip in the world with a space of 10,267 km. The usual time always planned for the trip is 206 hours. This means it takes a train not less than 8 days to complete the journey.
. A rail trip from Moscow in Russia to Vladivostok in Russia is the 2nd longest rail trip in the world with a space of 9, 289 km, the normal hours for the trip is 144 hours. In order words, it takes a train 6 days to complete the journey.
. Moscow in Russia to Beijing in China through Harbin railroad is the 3rd longest rail trip in the world with a space of 8,984 rail km; the journey will take 6 days or 145 hours.
Moscow in Russian to Beijing in China through Ulaanbaatar railroad is a distance of 7,826 km and it will take 127 hours or 5 days and few hours to complete the journey.
The rail distance between Moscow and Tommot in Russia is 7,318 km and a train is expected to use 140 hours or 5 days and few hours to complete the journey.
From Kashgar to Yingtan in China is a rail distance of 5,166 km, and itwill take 72 hours 39 minutes or 3 days and few hours for a train to complete the journey.
A trip between Guangzhou to Lhasa in China is about 4,980 km; such a trip will take 53 hours or 2 days and some hours for a train to complete the journey.
Shanghai to Yining in China is 4,742 km and its normal travel time for a train to complete the journey on the route is 55 hours 43 minutes or 2days and few hours.
Guangzhou to Urumqi in China is a 2 days journey of 4,684 km distance; a train is expected to spend 49 hours, 34 minutes.
From Toronto to Vancouver in Canada is 4,466 km railroad; such a trip will take a train 86 hours or better still 3 days and few hours.
Generally speaking, passengers’ attitudes have an influence in determining whether to choose rail transport for their long distance trips or not. The huge benefits of travelling a long distance by rail have heavily influenced the public perceptions in choosing the rail for their long distance trips. However, there arelist of benefits that both the passengers and the service providers will enjoy in long distance trips by rail. Here are the benefits:
1. Long distance rail trips are cost efficient. For instance, what will cost a train to move several tons of goods on a single journey may cost nothing less than 10 trailers to move the same goods at a higher cost.
2. The origin and destination of travelling a long distance by air ends in the airport, but travelling a long distance by rail can take you to a desired city, town or village that is located along the rail road corridors.
3. Many air passengers who fail to use busy airline may end up waiting more than necessary for their flight and they may also have to pay higher fares. Passengers in long distance rail trips pay cheaper fares for their trips andthey embark on their trips without much delay.
4. Travelling a long distance by road may increase your trip time more than necessary, why? This is because your driver may want to take breaks for rest and meal and also, you may come across several check points; all of these significantly increase your trip time. These are not so in rail transportation. No several check points and the train does not need to stop for anyone to take meals.
5. At times, a driver on a long distance trip may deliberately decide not to take break for rest or meal in order to save time and money. This may result to an unnecessary stress, fatigue and other factors that may impair the ability to drive safely on the road, wherefore, putting his own life and the lives of other innocent people at risk. However, passengers on long distance rail trips travel without stress or danger to others; they move freely and safely. The passengers can eat and even sleep without any cause for alarm while the journey progresses.
6. The train can quickly make many intermediate stops without using much
fuel. This is not possible in air transport.
7. Railway stations are less expensive to build and also easy to operate when you compare it to airports.
8. A long distance rail links many markets together, thereby generating more economic revenues.
9. A long distance rail trip helps generate more revenues to the rail company and also enables the company to spend less when you compare it to short distance operations.
10. Train use fuel more efficiently than air and road transport, for instance, a train can use a gallon of fuel to move one ton worth of goods more than 400 miles, this is not possible with road transport, while air craft on its own burns almost half of its fuel in landings and take offs.
The people’s attitudes and perceptions towards long distance trips by rail are important in determining potential passengers. Also, they are capable of creating
either positive or negative impact on rail transport. These days, mostly in Europe,railway transport companies provide both national and international long
distance transport services to their potential passengers. Therefore, traveling a
long distance by rail becomes unique and the attitudinal behavior of people toward long distance journeys by rail becomes a major factor in determining the sustainability of long distance journeys by rail and the prosperity of rail transport
companies engaging in long distance trips.
Without any element of doubt, long distance trips by rail and the rate at which
people use the train for their long distance trips are increasingly growing these days as more affordable mode to either of road or air transport. The value and the importance of long distance trips by rail transport cannot be overlooked; it connects different towns, villages and cities and many markets along the route together to produce greater revenue.
Despite the importance of long trip rail transport, it is important to know that the belief and the perception of the people can affect the demand for long distance
rail trips both positively and negatively. There are factors that can determine the
attitude of passengers toward long distance rail transport. Such factors are:
This is one of the major factors that can affect the attitude of passengers. Potential passengers must be sure that they are safe from harm or danger when engaging in a long distance trip by train. They must have confidence that the service providers are conscious of their safety throughout the journey. You can
imagine what the attitude of passengers would be if the train they are traveling
on a distance trip is stuck down for two days in the middle of the journey, probably, in a thick forest where they are not close to any town or village. Such an experience will surely discourage passengers to travel by rail, especially during along distance trip.
It’s important to note that long distance rail trips provide access to many cities, towns, villages and market places. This will likely encourage people to
choose the train for their trips and more importantly, rail transport itself must be
easily accessible by potential passengers; people must find it possible to choose the train for their trips. If the rail transport is not easily accessible then it will not be attractive or possible for passengers to choose the train for their longer trips.
The use of transport cannot be neglected either by individuals or
organizations. More importantly, nations can’t afford to neglect transport in its
economy. These explain why transport is important and why it must be easily affordable to everyone. Rail transport must be cost effective; people must be able to choose the train for their long distance trips without having serious problem to pay for it. If many people are unable to afford train transport for their needs due to high rate of transport fare, this may discourage many potential passengers.
However, it’s interesting to note that, till date, railway transport still provides
more avoidable service to the public when you compare it to other modes of
Rail transport companies must ensure that people choosing the train for their long distance trips must be free from any form of stress. Transport companies must add features to the train that will make long distance trips luxurious. A train traveling on a long distance, probably for two days, is expected to have vital features that will reduce the burden of the passengers in such a long distance trip. It is also interesting to note that most trains used for distance
journeys have many features to make such long trips stress free.
For instance, a train on an international trip moving from Moscow in Russia to Pyongyang in North Korea will have to spend at least 206 hours to cover 10,267 kilometers. This means between Moscow and Pyongyang a train is
expected to spend not less than 8 days, wherefore, passengers in such a long
distance trip may feel worry, be upset and frighten during the journey. As a result
of this, the number of passengers on long distance trips may be reduced.
Therefore, every rail transport company must do everything possible to make
every long distance trip an enjoyable experience for all passengers on board. Rail
transport providers must ensure that passengers are content with regard to their
well-being throughout the journey. All passengers must enjoy all the comfort they
deserve; even their seats must be designed for comfort. A dissatisfied passenger may be dangerous. However, the railway transport companies should ensure that
their passengers are comfortable throughout all journeys.
The fear of rap, terrorist attack, armed robbery and other forms of crime
may discourage people mostly female passengers from choosing the rail transport for their long distance trips. Therefore, measures must be taken by service providers to guard against any form of attack or crime during trips. Adequate
security must not be neglected to ensure that people are free from fear and
anxiety during their journeys.
Nevertheless, choosing rail transport for long distance journey is good; therefore
the rail transport service providers must continue to guide the belief and
perception of their passengers by providing them quality services that are free
from any form of danger or harm.
A picture showing inside of a train driver’s compartment. Source: www.alamy.com
The word ‘driver’ is a common word people use to refer to a person who moves or drives any type of motor vehicle such as car, bus, trailer, heavy duty truck, among others on the public roads. Therefore, everyone knows who a driver really is. And so, a car driver, bus driver, truck driver among others are all types of drivers in road transportation.
Who is a Train Driver?
Similarly, on the other hand, a train driver is a person who drives or moves a train on its tracks. However, to become a qualified train driver requires more intensive training program than to become a road driver. Moving people and cargo, in their large number, to their destinations effectively and safely indeed demands a lot of training and skills coupled with technical know-how or (mechanical knowledge) needed for safe operation. These, among others, explain why it’s a noble career in overland transportation.
It’s important to note that the train driver’s occupation has different names it’s called or known by in different countries. For instance, in Canada and America, the train drivers are called engineers(not synonymous with mechanical engineer) while in some other countries they are called, engine drivers, train drivers, loco pilots, motormen, and train operators. However, whatever names they are called is not the essence of this article; rather it’s really about the occupation, its role and importance in railway transportation.
It is no longer new that some railway transport companies in Europe are planning to be fully automated. It means that trains, as it were, will be operated through the computer and will be also monitored remotely from a station-based control room. However, in line with this new development, a research study was carried out by researchgate.net/publication to know the likely problems related to this
The research, however, revealed that there are hidden core values of a train driver that must not be compromised by any railway industries. Quoting from the said research work, train drivers ‘anticipate, observe, interpret, and react to events in the surrounding environment. Furthermore, they are a significant interaction link between different actors…’
Nevertheless, the conclusion of this research work was that these inevitable roles of a train driver must be reckoned with otherwise, running a fully automated train transport system can affect transport safety and the quality of service rendered to the public.
Notable Responsibilities of a train driver
The task of a train driver as it’s noted above is far more than moving a train only on its track. The train driver performs more important functions during train operations that makes its role inevitable. As a result, the following are the responsibilities of a train driver:
1. Customer care: Train driver is expected to provide good customer care to passengers such that will enable them to patronize the service provider again for other trips. He is expected to build a good relationship with passengers during each operation, such as good and timely communication, operating according to the laid down rules and procedures for efficient and smooth transportation.
2.Safety: In transportation, safety always comes first; it is the first thing that must be considered, and therefore, one of the important responsibilities of the train driver is to ensure the safety of all the passengers during the operations. We all know that the train carries goods and passengers in large number. Therefore, safety and security in public transport operation is very important. He is expected to strictly adhere to safety rules.
3. Effective communication: The train driver also plays an important role in giving necessary information to both the passengers and the management at the right time. If there’s any problem during the operation, he is expected to communicate to the passengers in a calm manner that will not lead to any form of panic. He must be a good communicator both in verbal and written forms.
He also uses the radio communication to find out the state or the condition of the route he is traveling on. For instance, there may be problem on a section of the track; the engineer could be at work on the track, there could also be a blockage probably due to an accident at a level crossing, etc. In any of these situations, the radio communication could be used from the control room probably to divert the train to another route that is free and safer.
4. Concentration: He also demonstrates such a skill as focusing his attention for long periods of time during a long journey. This, he does, to enable him know the track layouts so as to plan stops for signals and stations since we know that the train cannot stop suddenly like a car or motor vehicle. Hence, stopping a train at any particular location must be planned ahead of time. This, indeed, is an additional responsibility in daily schedule of a train driver.
5. A vigorous alert: A professional train driver is expected to be watchful and able to think clearly to perceive a potential danger and to quickly act to avoid it. At times, tracks can be run through a dangerous territory and if the train driver is not vigilant enough this may lead to an unwanted rail accident.
The potential and capacity benefits of a train driver in rail transportation have made the services of train drivers a noble career in rail transportation system. Therefore, to achieve efficiency and effectiveness in railway transportation as well as to enhance its smooth operations, the need for the services of a train driver cannot be over-looked.