U.S., Railroad History: Trains Still Run on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

By J. Bruce Richardson, Corridor Rail Development Corporation, December 24, 2020

It’s Christmas Eve. Passenger trains are running everywhere today, and tomorrow, too. Just because it’s a holiday it doesn’t mean railroaders take a day off.

While, by union contract, many freight trains will not be running on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, all that means is Amtrak trains will “have the railroad” and have a good chance of on-time performance.

The freight railroad dispatchers will still be working, as will any necessary maintenance people be on call. The railroad police, for both the freight railroads and Amtrak, will all be diligently working, too. The bad guys seldom take a holiday off.

Onboard your passenger train, whether it’s a corridor train, long distance train, commuter train or a train zipping up and down the Northeast Corridor, onboard services and train and engine crews will still be reporting to work, whether it’s from their home terminal or from their “away” crew base. It doesn’t matter it’s a holiday, the trains still run.

At terminals where trains launch from or end up for turning, the commissary people are still working as are the cleaning and turning crews. Somebody is pumping fuel into the locomotive while someone else is pumping out the waste-water tanks under the passenger cars.

The station ticket agents are working, as are the baggage handlers. The reservations agents, ready to assist when the automated computer voice can’t get the job done, are there, too, working to serve passengers instead of being home with their families and friends.

For over a century and a half, railroads have safely transported holiday revelers, be it in wartime, pandemic time or good times. Weather that keeps cars off of expressways doesn’t matter to a train; it just keeps eating up miles of track.

On behalf of Jim Coston and all of us at Corridor Rail Development Corporation, we thank those who are working this holiday, away from families and loved ones, keeping our tradition of safe holiday travel alive.

Working Christmas Day can be rough, but the payoff is often seen on the faces and smiles of passengers when they detrain and see loved ones waiting anxiously for their arrival. Holiday travelers have good memories of the moment, and passenger train crews do, too.

Wishing everyone a safe holiday season and a Happy New Year for 2021.

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