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Passenger conductors are in charge of a train and the passengers on it. They perform a wide range of duties essential to the comfortable and timely arrival of all travelers on board. There is often more than one conductor on a given passenger train, but they all work together toward the goal of safe and efficient travel.
The conductor's number one job is to ensure that the railway is paid for its services. They must keep track of who is riding the train, and they do so by checking and collecting tickets. Conductors check with every rider to ensure that each has a paid ticket. They also sell tickets to anyone who did not or could not buy one at the station, as well as managing changes such as switching tickets from second class to first class.
Train passenger conductors handle a number of customer service issues. They advise passengers on how to reach their intended destinations, announce stops and provide estimates on travel time and delays. Conductors may assist passengers with seat location, baggage loading and storage and with any special needs they may have while riding the train. In addition, conductors are charged with keeping the peace, removing any disruptive passengers and maintaining order and control of the train at all times.
The head conductor is the on-board leader of the train. She has authority over all other workers including the driver, and must guard against unsafe conditions. The conductor checks that all the train cars are present and inspects the train for damage or malfunctions before departing on a journey. Conductors must make note of any problems with the interior of the train and request they be repaired so passengers travel in comfort. Of particular importance are doors, windows and other elements of the train car that are necessary to passenger safety and must be repaired or replaced immediately if damaged.
When the train stops at a station the conductor must get off and monitor the exit and entrance of passengers. She must help passengers find the right train car and assist with boarding if necessary. When the scheduled departure time arrives, the conductor must usher any remaining passengers on board, then in some cases give an all clear to the driver either by whistle and/or hand signal. This means it is safe to close the doors and get underway.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: What Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters Do
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters
- National Careers Service: Train Conductor
- Trains: The People Who Work on Trains
- International Business Times: What Do Long Island Rail Road Conductors Really Do?
Robert Morello has an extensive travel, marketing and business background. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Columbia University in 2002 and has worked in travel as a guide, corporate senior marketing and product manager and travel consultant/expert. Morello is a professional writer and adjunct professor of travel and tourism.
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