Secrets of a Locomotive Engineer

Realize Your Childhood Dream

About The Book

Last Train to Escape Boredom…Departing Now!

Have you ever dreamed of driving a train? Blowing the whistle, loud and long? Passing through the beautiful countryside, seeing the world go by as you travel down the rails? When you have seen a train pass by did you wonder what it must be like to do that? How does it all work?

Wonder no more. In this book, retired freight conductor and locomotive engineer Thomas Hughes takes you down the rails to experience this interesting and exciting career. You will learn how to build trains, switch cars, interpret signals and laugh out loud to funny stories of when things don’t go as planned.

You work hard and you deserve a break. Take some time to enjoy these stories and learn something new about the world of railroads. You can impress your friends with your new found knowledge, and this is one “guilty pleasure” that won’t put on the pounds!

What are you waiting for? From the classroom to the switching yard and out onto the open road, let the adventure begin!

What’s inside













Chapter 1

This is the story of my 16 years with the railroad. I started as a freight conductor and then became a locomotive engineer. I worked only with freight trains, no passenger trains, in mostly rural and hilly areas. What makes this book different is that I am going to not just tell you the stories of life with the railroad, but also teach you how you can explore this career, too.

I know there are all kinds of readers in the world. Some of the stuff I have to say is slightly technical. If this is not your cup of tea, feel free to skip around and enjoy the more humorous and fun stuff. And for the people who love to learn how things work, there is plenty here to discover. 

One thing I would like to tell you is that I am not going to bog you down with a bunch of technical/engineering lingo. I want you to enjoy this book as much as possible, so I am going to only mention a few concepts that I think are important. Other technical aspects will be glossed over. 

When I started to write this book, I did what all professionals do. I used the lingo I had acquired from working in my specialized field automatically. I gave little thought to the idea that my reader hasn’t the years of experience learning and using this new language. All professions do this, and it is annoying to people who don’t work in those professions. Medicine and law do this all the time. It is a secret language and you have to be an initiate in the special society to be allowed to participate.

So, I apologize if I use terms that confuse you in this book. My goal is to make this subject enjoyable and easily understood. At first, I thought putting a glossary at the end of the book would be sufficient to allow you to know what I was talking about. Then the idea of carrying pails of water from the spring to the house came back to me from my childhood. How wonderful it is to have plumbing carry the water to the house for you! I will carry the water to you. I will try my best to explain all the slang used before I use it, and I will also add it to the glossary for if you forget later in the book what those words meant.

I am going to make this disclaimer, though. This is the book to read if you’re looking for somewhat detailed discussions on how things work on the railroad, but it is not complete enough so that you would be able to operate trains based solely upon this book. The technical explanations are intentionally simple, for the sake of clarity and to offer an entertaining introduction to the subject. If you are a mechanical engineer or another such trained person, you might notice some slight errors or gaps. I’m OK with that. This book is meant to be an adventure, not an operator’s manual. I hope you enjoy the trip with me.

I would finish with “All aboard!”, but we don’t say that on freight trains.



About the author.

Thomas Hughes is a retired Army officer and locomotive engineer who is reinventing his life to be able to keep up with his toddler son. Always one for spinning a tall tale or two when trying to get out of trouble, now redirecting that talent toward more honorable purposes.

Thomas Hughes

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