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Probably no man in railway service comes in contact with more people or travels any farther in the course of a year than the conductor of a passenger train.
What the captain is to the steamship, the conductor is to the railway train.
He is responsible for carrying out all orders pertaining to the operation of his train, for the conduct of his crew, for the comfort and safety of passengers and for the collection of tickets and fares.
He sees that his train displays the proper flags or lights and that each member of the train crew performs his duties according to well-established rules.
The conductor reports to the superintendent or the trainmaster of his division. He reports for work sufficiently in advance of the scheduled time of departure to see that his train is properly made up and inspected.
He sees that other members of the crew are on duty before leaving the terminal. The conductor inspects his train to see that the cars are clean, there is fresh water in the coolers and the temperature in the cars is properly regulated.
After the train is on its way, the conductor collects tickets and fares from passengers taking short trips. He punches the tickets of passengers who may be stopping off along the way, or going to another part of the railroad, or traveling over other railroads.
At the end of his run, the conductor makes a detailed report of his ticket and cash receipts. These are carefully checked later by the auditor's office....
...Members of the passenger train crew who are under the conductor's supervision include an engineer, a fireman, one or more brake men (sometimes called trainmen or flag men), a baggage man if the train carries a baggage car, and on some railroads a porter for the coaches.
The Pullman conductor, Pullman porters and dining car crew are also under the general supervision of the conductor.
The brake men and the porters assist the conductor by announcing stations, opening and closing vestibule doors at the stations, helping passengers on and off trains with their baggage and performing such other duties as the conductor may direct...
...Every train makes its run under specific orders as to the time of departure from each station, the stops to be made, and the time of arrival at destination.
The conductor must see that the train leaves each station at the exact time specified in his schedule.
Under no circumstances is the train allowed to leave a station ahead of schedule. If the train should be delayed en route, it must proceed to its destination in accordance with definite instructions from the train dispatcher's office.
The conductor is responsible for carrying out these instructions. Train orders are addressed jointly to the conductor and engineer, but the engineer is governed by the directions of the conductor so far as train movements are concerned.
Before a man can qualify for the position of conductor, he must serve for years as a brakeman. He must be thoroughly familiar with operating rules and practices. He must have demonstrated that he is a man of sound judgment and good habits.
His first years as a conductor are usually in freight yard switching service, later he is advanced to regular freight train service and still later to a passenger run.
The star on the conductor's sleeve in the picture indicates the number of years he has been a railroad employee.
Conductors and other members of the train crew must have good health and excellent eyesight in order to qualify for their positions. Physical examinations, eye tests and hearing tests are made at intervals to make certain that the men are fully qualified to perform their duties.
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