run a train

What does it mean to run a train?

Operating a train is not an easy job, even with the invention of the electronic computer-controlled high-speed rail networks. Manual control of trains is not likely going away any time soon, as there is an added safety bonus of having a human on board at all times. Being a train driver/pilot is the dream of many children worldwide. It is one of the most exciting jobs out there, especially in the eyes of a child (the pay isn’t half bad too).

But what goes into running a train? From the pilot to the conductor this article explains it all.

Image by Qamera from Pixabay

Control center

The control center acts as the brain of the operation. Without an overarching command, the running of an efficient railway network is not possible. This is the sometimes overlooked aspect of operating a locomotive. Be it the operator in a control room, or the software developer who helps control the Shinkansen high-speed rail network, everything needs to be carefully controlled.


Engineers are vital for the proper care of the engine before and after the journey, as well as during it. This job has developed over time since the very first engines, but the general idea is the same. Steam engines used to need engineers to carefully control the coal fire burning to fuel the engine. Nowadays, engineers work on the train calibrating computer systems and keeping everything running. Whether the locomotives are steam, diesel, or electric they still need skilled engineers to operate safely.

You can read more about train engineers, the role they play, and what the job entails here.


Conductors are probably the most likely person you will bump into on your journey. They are responsible for checking your ticket, guiding you about which routes go where, and explaining the train’s schedule. This may seem like an easy job, but there is more to it than that. Conductors are also responsible for the safety of those on board: they check the doors, windows, electronics, and keep an eye out for mischief. It is a huge responsibility, yet most people assume all they do is check tickets. Being a conductor can be a thankless job.

FIND OUT the Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Encourage Your Child to Become a Railway Enthusiast


Being a train pilot is the most coveted job in the rail industry. The wages are high, the responsibility is enormous, and the training is hard, to say the least. A train pilot is responsible for driving the train, of course, and the safety of all the lives on board are on him. They are trained to understand all the controls, settings, and safety features on the train with the ultimate goal of getting from A to B on time and safely. Whilst trains don’t need steering in the same way, a car, plane, or boat do, they do still need guiding. After all, a train taking a sharp corner at high speed can be easily derailed. This is not the case so much now, as many trains are computer-guided, but they do still need human input in emergencies.

Now you know how to run a train!

Hopefully, this article has given you an inside look at what roles must be played in the operating of a locomotive and the running of a passenger train. It isn’t simply a one-man job, as so many people seem to believe.

Image by Виктория Бородинова from Pixabay

If you are interested in joining a career in the railway industry you should look for courses provided by your government such as these.