Conductor trainees can get hands-on experience soon without having to go far from Kansas City Southern’s new training center in Shreveport, LA.
The Transportation Engineering and Mechanical Training Center will soon have a trio each of box cars and tank cars, plus five couplers, in a stationary display adjacent to the Center. The next new class of conductors can walk from the TEaM Training Center to the adjacent tracks where multiple trainees can simultaneously get a hands-on experience with the cars. Currently, new conductors get field training at the yard in nearby Bossier City.
The new interactive displays, constructed in the Shreveport car shop by carmen Larry Kirby and Duane Smith, are expected to be set on track panels soon.
Superintendent of Cars Kyle Salter said that the two men were given only pictures of similar displays from another training facility to build the setup in Shreveport. Kirby and Smith each devoted approximately 60 hours to the project, splitting their time between that and regular heavy car repair duties.
“These guys put a lot of time and attention to detail into making sure they got the displays just right,” Salter said. “We are very proud of their work.”
Instead of resting on rails, the displays will be bolted to the ties on 40-foot track panels. The displays simulate the A and B end of the car and all aspects of the coupler. Trainees are able to climb on the cars, cross walkways, maintain three-point contact, set handbrakes, couple hoses, apply air, place an end-of-train device, perform a leakage test, climb on the ladder with a lantern to give signals and engage all safety appliances.
“Any new employee who will be around rail cars can benefit from training on this display,” Salter said. “For example, new carmen must practice inspecting safety appliances. The possibilities for using the new displays are endless.”
The Center is designed to enhance training programs for operating employees. Initially, the center will focus on operating rules, procedures and compliance training, and eventually add other development opportunities.
The facility occupies the former Customer Service Center building, which is being divided into multi-purpose classrooms with the flexibility to change with advancements in technology and the addition of interactive learning tools. New hires will start with classroom instruction, followed by simulated experience with interactive learning tools in the center, before heading out to Bossier Yard for hands on experience with actual rolling stock.
Renovations at the TEaM Training Center are expected to be completed around Memorial Day 2013. Later, KCS will also develop a TEaM Training Yard adjacent to the center, eliminating the need to use Bossier Yard for training.
Gerry Peppmuller, who was an operations management trainee for approximately six months, was recently named director of the new center. Peppmuller joined KCS after retiring from the U.S. Army with 22 years of service.