What is your favorite way to travel? Some people like to take long car drives, others prefer to go by air, many even like to take boat trips, but an extremely popular way to travel is by train. Passenger trains and public transportation take up a big chunk of transportation funds.
Whether you're hitching a subway ride every day to get to work or you're cashing in on a luxury train ride around the country, there are advantages and disadvantages to taking a train ride. Many people even find them relaxing. But there are some secrets you might not know about trains, so we've compiled a list containing 10 of them.
10 Conductors can’t change the train speed
Just like when you pay a visit to the doctor’s office and your doctor is running late, if something happens to make the train run late, you'll be out of luck. Conductors can’t do much about getting trains back on track once the schedule has been tampered with. That means, if your train is late due to unforeseen circumstances then you’ll be late too.
Conductors are unable to make up for lost time. A similar sentiment can be said for doctors, whose entire day can get off track with one late patient or appointment that goes too long. This isn’t something you would know. Trains will operate as normal, even if they are running late.
9 Train personnel have their own lingo
Did you know train personnel and staff have their own special lingo? It’s not all that surprising when you think about it. Diners, chefs, pilots, and more have their own slang and lingo to shorten important commands when on the go. The same can be said for people who work on passenger trains.
If you were to listen to their conversation there is a chance you wouldn’t understand anything they were saying when they talk about a “piggyback” or “blowing smoke.” Rest assured, these aren’t terms meant to alarm. It’s a good thing to hear this because it means the staff is well-versed and good at their jobs.
8 Sometimes conductors lie to keep passengers calm
No one wants to have a subway full of panicked passengers if something were to go terribly wrong. If there is a bomb threat, someone jumps in front of a train, or even an accident ahead, conductors will mince words and use phrases like "an ongoing police investigation" or a "passenger needs medical attention."
In reality, the situation may be more severe than that but in order to quell potential panic-inducing situations, it's best if they don't announce the full details over the intercom to everyone on the train. Rest assured they have things under control.
7 Don't hit the emergency brake if you see a sick passenger
It is true that the phrase "sick passenger" can actually mean that someone is dying or close to death. It could also just mean someone is vomiting or not feeling well. If you do see someone who is really sick on the train, it might be your first instinct to hit the emergency brake so you can stop the train and get help but that is is actually one of the worst things you can do.
If the train is forcibly stopped, it will take much longer to get that passenger proper medical care and attention. It's best to let the train continue and get them to a hospital then.
6 Amtrak has struggled to retain profits
While Amtrak is doing much better in revenue now than it was a few years ago, there was a time when the company wasn't having profitable years. According to Marketwatch.com, in 2011, Amtrak hadn't had a really successful year since 1971. Plus, Amtrak burns through quite a bit of our tax dollars.
Most of Amtrak profitability comes from federal funding but typically that money goes to sleeper cars and not to actual passenger trains. This means quite a bit of those tax dollars citizens pay aren't going towards public transportation costs. Trains are also expensive, there are definitely cheaper ways to travel despite what you might think
5 Many conductors have seen death
When you become a train conductor it's not a question of if you will see death on the job but when. Subway suicides are unfortunately and tragically prevalent. In 2017, according to The New York Times, there was a reported amount of 900 deaths.
This isn't something that you might think about when you first get this type of job, but there is a dark side of working with trains. There are, unfortunately, train accidents.
4 The middle of the train is the safest
If you're trying to figure out where the best place to sit on a train is, then you should know it's the middle of the train. Whether you want to sit or stand, the middle of the train is the best way to be.
When you're sitting on the edges you're more likely to come in contact with the doors, which are the cause of many annual injuries or be harmed by passengers incoming on the train at each stop. In the middle of the train, you have more stability and range to keep away from any of the hustle and bustle going on at each stop.
3 If you fall on the tracks the best thing to do is run
If you're unlucky enough to somehow fall down into the train tracks, your first instinct may be to climb back up or to lay down between the tracks so the train can pass over you. Both of those choices are extremely dangerous.
Many people have been killed by trying to come back up and then falling again. And lying down between railings can work but it can also put you in touch with the third rail which has an extremely high electrical voltage. The best thing to do is run as far as you can in the opposite direction of the train so the conductor can see you and pull the emergency brake.
2 The trains are not sanitary
This shouldn't come as much of a surprise but trains are not the most sanitary way to travel. They don't get cleaned nearly as often as they should due to the constant delays and moving. Conductors often don't even let their own families travel aboard their trains because they know how infested with germs they might be.
You should absolutely try to avoid holding the poles and railings within the trains but if you must, make sure you bring plenty of hand sanitizer and wash your hands thoroughly. That's not to say all passenger trains are filthy but keep in mind the timeframe they have to clean up is a very small window.
1 People really do live in the tunnels
The idea of people living down in the tunnels may sound like an urban legend like the infamous tale of the mole people, but it is a very real thing. Most conductors have seen homeless folks taking refuge in the dark tunnels and railways underground on subway routes.
They build communities and homes down there with tents and everything. They forage for food and ask for money from passersby. It's not the safest place to live due to the railways themselves and because it isn't sanitary. Sometimes these communities can fester with disease due to the poor hygienic conditions.