While Trainmaster Bill Peck recently started at the Belt, he’s no rookie.
He has been railroading since he was 17 and now has more than a decade of experience.
“My whole family has been railroading for a long time, and it came naturally to me,” Peck said.
The Belt isn’t just any railroad, and the unique aspects of the operation appeal to him. Four of the company’s trainmasters, Peck, John Christianson, Cleveland Elliott and Leonard Weaver, are focused solely on safety. The four will come in on off days to discuss trends and areas of opportunity.
Having a subset of trainmasters that specialize in this way is a relatively new development, and Peck is excited to be part of it at the outset.
“It’s refreshing,” he said. “This company puts safety first.”
If there are no pressing concerns, such as a derailment, Peck will perform skate audits or ride with crews. His days offer him the opportunity to learn and train. No matter what duty he performs, the goal remains the same.
“I want to keep everyone focused so they can go home the same way they came to work,” he said.
It is a goal all Peck’s co-workers share.
“Everyone I’ve worked with is of the same mindset and works well together,” he said. “They come out here to do a safe, good job.”
Peck praised crews, colleagues and management alike for helping orient him, and said he hopes to build a rapport with crew members and earn their trust.
“I’m new here and have a lot to learn,” he said.
He doesn’t have to learn the power of teamwork. Early in his railroad career Peck worked a derailment of refrigerated cars. The nature of the derailment meant he and co-workers worked in shifts nonstop for 34 hours emptying cars.
“It’s miraculous what a group of people can do,” he said. “Railroaders are more like family members than co-workers.”
Peck has worked plenty inside of cabs and holds a great deal of respect for crew members.
“I’ve been in their shoes and appreciate the demands of the job,” he said.
Peck considers railroading a lifestyle as much as he considers it a career. Adventure also is part of his lifestyle. He is an avid scuba diver and recently visited Hawaii to explore that passion.
“I’ve always loved the ocean and been interested in it,” Peck said.
The most amazing things he saw were four 12-foot manta rays. The encounter happened during a night dive, which Peck admits took some getting used to. The flashlights divers used attracted the manta rays by enticing their food source: plankton. The animals don’t pose a threat to divers, so he was able to get close to them.
Peck hopes to one day explore the Great Barrier Reef.