Where Do Train Engineers Sleep?

October 17, 2023

Trains look cool and they sound good, especially when they're moving at Authorized Speed on the main line! They also look and sound cool when they're slowing down around curves! Trains are a very important mode of transportation for both freight and passengers. They provide safe, fast & economical travel to customers all over the world!

While we know that trains have multiple safety measures in place, we don't often think about how hard it is for train crew members to get a good night's sleep. This can cause fatigue, which is a major factor in accidents. Many people are curious about where do train engineers sleep; the answer to this question is not as simple as one might expect.

Passenger trains typically have an engineer and conductor and a number of additional crew members such as cooks, waiters and porters. Freight trains operate with two crew members, an engineer and conductor. Operating train crews must be awake during their shift, which lasts 6 to 12 hours before they're allowed to disembark the train for a rest period.

Operating train crews cannot work more than 12 hours per Federal law. When they reach their home terminal, they're either taken home in a carry all or sent to a motel, where they spend the night. They may be assigned a new train the following day or have to wait for a ride in a "dog catch" crew.

Some rail crew members suffer from sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea. A recent accident involving a Metro-North train that derailed because of an unresponsive engineer was blamed on the engineer's lack of sleep and the presence of his sleep disorder. He was diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea in the aftermath of the accident and began regular CPAP titration therapy that significantly improved his condition.

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