Volunteer with Train Operations

Volunteering in the train operations department is just one of the many ways to get involved at the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum Association.  Since 1986, the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum in Campo has been operating trains with volunteer train crews over 14 miles of the former San Diego and Arizona Railway (SD&A) leased from the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System.  It is our hope that, through our train operations, we can preserve the vivid history of railroading in San Diego County.  The Association operates its trains under the original San Diego and Arizona Railway company name.

The Association provides train operations volunteers with the necessary skills to safely and efficiently operate trains.  From hands-on training to rules and other instructional classwork, we can provide you with the skills you need to run trains on our railroad for just the cost of your membership to the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum Association.

Operations Department Announcements

Pumpkin Express Running Through Possible Power Outage

Pumpkin Express Passengers: In the event the power gets turned off in East County this weekend, we will still be open and operating trains. We have sufficient standby generators to power our facilities. Hope to see you there! More info on the event is available at psrm.org/pumpkin

Fall Brakeman Class Sept 8 and 14

It's that time of year again; the next Brakeman Class at the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum is less than two months away and there are still seats available! This two-day hands-on class is offered twice a year and is the first step for those interested in becoming a volunteer for our weekend excursion train operations. The class will be held on September 8th (date changed from September 7th) and 14th. See the brakeman class webpage on our website for more information and to sign up. Museum membership is the only prerequisite. More info at https://www.psrm.org/brakeman-class/ and also at https://www.psrm.org/volunteer/operations/

Finalized Railroad Rules and Review Dates

For those of you interested in joining or continuing to be a part of our volunteer train operations crews, here are the finalized dates for GCOR, Air Brake, and Air Brake and Train Handling classes for 2019.  All classes are held at Trinity Presbyterian Church, 3902 Kenwood Dr., Spring Valley, CA  91977.  For current train crew members, reminders for which classes you need this year will be sent out shortly by mail. Safety and Security Class – 4 hours of instruction
  • Friday, June 7 starting at 18:00
  • Friday, July 12 starting at 18:00
  • Friday, August 2 starting at 18:00
General Code of Operating Rules Class – 8 hours of instruction, 1 hour lunch break
  • Saturday, June 8 starting at 09:00
  • Saturday, July 13 starting at 09:00
  • Saturday, August 3 starting at 09:00
Air Brake Class (for Brakemen and Conductors) – 4 hours of instruction
  • Friday, June 21 starting at 13:00
  • Friday, July 19 starting at 13:00
  • Friday, August 16 starting at 13:00
Air Brake and Train Handling Class (for Engineers) – 8 hours of instruction, 1 hour lunch break
  • Saturday, June 22 starting at 09:00
  • Saturday, July 20 starting at 09:00
  • Saturday, August 17 starting at 09:00
For more information, please contact us at training@psrm.org.

What train crew positions are available to new volunteers?

There are two entry-level train crew positions that new train operations volunteers may apply for to start their training: Speeder Operator and Brakeman.

What is a speeder and what do speeder operators do?

Whether you call it a speeder, a motor car, or a gang car, these useful pieces of equipment run on the rails and perform many important duties for the railroad.  Each speeder is designed with specific tasks in mind.  The SD&A has four operational speeders which are used every day we run trains at Campo.

Speeder Operators have four main tasks at the SD&A: inspecting track, providing fire protection for our trains, transporting railroad workers, and hauling railroad track maintenance equipment and supplies.  All of these aspects are covered in our hands-on training programs.

To begin training as a speeder operator, applicants must hold a current Association membership and must be at least fourteen (14) years of age.  Once training is completed, speeder operators must be at least sixteen (16) years of age to operate unsupervised.

What is a brakeman and what do brakemen do?

Brakemen are the men and women who assist the locomotive engineer and conductor with the assembly and safe operation of the train.  Through the training process, brakemen will learn how to assemble, test, and move trains and engines with the assistance of the locomotive engineer as well as to understand the function of air brakes, the process of boarding and alighting from moving equipment, and many other tasks.  This position can be physically taxing at times, but is essential to the operation of our trains.

To begin training as a brakeman, applicants must hold a current Association membership, must be at least sixteen (16) years of age, and must have completed the two-day hands-on brakeman training class held at the Museum at Campo.  Once training is completed, brakemen must be at least eighteen (18) years of age to work unsupervised.

What other railroad jobs can I learn at PSRM?

Brakemen at the SD&A have the option to apply to the Conductor training program and/or the Locomotive Engineer training program.  New train operations department volunteers may not apply for these positions.  We can provide you with more information on applying for these advanced training programs after you finish your brakeman training.

How do I apply?

For more information about applying to become a speeder operator or a brakeman, please send an email to training@psrm.org.  If you have any general questions or questions about volunteering, please use the Contact Us page.