All Aboard! Exploring the Newfoundland Railway

Railway Workers

A Day in the Life of a Train Dispatcher

Graham Hill - Dispatcher Duties

Graham Hill speaks of Dispatcher Duties

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Length: 2:48 Min
File Size: 11.0 MB

In 1966, I trained as a train dispatcher and... in St. John's and started their relief work and had the same thing to go through again. Your still a junior man. You... you filled in when there was a vacancy. When there was no vacancy as a dispatcher, you went back as an operator. And that was a different line of work - train orders only, no express, no freight, no tickets, no people. You didn't deal with the public at all. You only dealt with the trains and the person at the station. At that time, trains were operated by a train order governed by the Uniform Code of Operating rules and that was approved by the Department of Transport. Everything had to be right to rule. No mistakes... any mistakes you were gone. A shift consisted of moving the trains on two sub-divisions for the first ten years. At the last of it, it was moving trains on 4 subdivisions from one office. In the beginning, there was a train order. A train inspection office at Bishop's Falls and St. John's.

In 1966, August 1966 Bishops Falls was closed. The two offices moved to St. John's and there was a dispatcher working in each office. The only thing, you wanted Chief working with you and you had a Clerk, but your job was to issue train orders and keep the trains apart and keep them on time. Some shifts were different than others. Some, if there was a de-railment, or a snow storm, washout, or anything that would delay the normal operation. After it was all repaired or back on the track or whatever, then everything had to start moving and that's when it really, really got bad.