Friday, April 08, 2005

Trains Magazine on Training

No sooner than I had posted last Sunday about the need for training then Trains Magazine featured an article in their May 2005 issue about that very subject! It was a well done piece, and I was grateful to see that it reinforced my point made on Sunday.

The article described in detail the Training Programs of several Class One Railroads. Close reading shows that each road concentrates on the trades of their businesses, the engineers, conductors, the signal maintainers, the locomotive machinists, etc. These people are the lifeblood of their respective companies, and training them is a good thing. But it is not management training, at least not the management training that was pioneered by Al Perlman.

Oh, the article did mention several University Programs, and how Engineering Graduates can gain knowledge about the Railroad Industry. And it did mention how these graduates can take one of two career paths, either with a Railroad or with a Railroad Engineering Consulting Firm. But the same objections remain. The people who move directly to consulting lack the on-the-ground experience so vitally needed for confident decisions. With no practical experience, there is nothing they can rely on but textbook learning and whatever brief experience they have. That combination means decisions made that are often flawed, and sometimes even arrogant. Today, as Commuter Lines and Light Rail Projects abound, we need better than that.


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