The GP40 locomotive let off a distinctive hissing sound – the air breaks had just been released.
The train’s engineer began pulling the throttle, causing the engine to rev up. The train, with freight cars in tow, began to move, and within a few moments it approached a grade crossing and the engineer sounded the horn: two long whistles, followed by a short one and another long blow.
Similar scenarios play out everyday along the nation’s rail network. But on this particular day, there was no train; the engineer was operating a simulator located at the Norfolk Southern Training Center in McDonough, a vital facility for the railroad.
All craft employees working at the railroad spend some time at the center, said Bill Faulhaber, manager of training with Norfolk Southern. In essence, all roads lead to McDonough for Norfolk Southern, which boasts a 21,500-route system that operates in 22 states, the District of Columbia and Ontario, Canada.
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Originally published in the (McDonough, Ga.) Daily Herald on Nov. 29, 2004.