James Breiterman is no stranger to trains. He has been working with railroads since 2008. For the past six years he has worked dispatch for the New Mexico Rail Runner Express. Four years ago, he became Senior Train Dispatcher.
“Either I dispatch trains or I help the Operations Supervisor update and maintain publications,” says Breiterman.
The job is a big one. Breiterman, along with his fellow dispatchers, work around the clock to keep trains and passengers safe and on time.
Maintaining the Flow
When asked exactly what a train dispatcher does, Breiterman recited the dispatch mantra, “Maintaining a safe and expeditious flow of train traffic. This is our main role,” he says.
Some of the Breiterman’s duties as Senior Dispatcher include coordinating train meets, reporting emergencies or unusual situations, and working with maintenance and signal personnel.
On a typical day, Breiterman can be found in the dispatch office keeping an eye on the monitors that show a live feed of where trains in the area are. “You can see where a train is at. We line up the signals, similar to traffic signals for cars. We can change the signals if we need to.”
He also helps write time tables, track bulletins, and general orders (rules for the railroad in laymen’s terms).
In the event of an emergency, Breiterman and the dispatch staff immediately jump in to action. “We coordinate with EMS, track supervisors, other railroads and any other appropriate agencies that are impacted or respond,” he says.
When asked to share a safety tip that he thought it was important for the public to know, Breiterman responded without hesitation. “If the gate arms are down at a railroad crossing, do not drive around them. Even if you don’t see a train coning. It’s better to be safe than to be in a rush and regret it,” he stated.
Breiterman added that dispatch responds immediately to reports of a crossing malfunction. “A soon as we get word of a malfunction, we’re on it. We immediately tell the trains so they proceed safely. We send the appropriate people fix it as soon as possible.”
Breiterman and the rest of the dispatch staff are an integral part of the behind-the-scenes operation of the New Mexico Rail Runner Express, working tirelessly to keep passengers, drivers and pedestrians safe.