Let Me Introduce You

Today we are going to start with a bit of an introduction. This person is a 48-year-old father of two who lives in Morris County, N.J., with his wife and family. He grew up in Maplewood, a New Jersey suburb, and graduated from Columbia High School in 1986. He works for a railroad, and has had a career that has lasted over 20 years in the industry.Right now many of you are saying, “Wait a second Friedland, that sounds a lot like you.” Well, it does. However, while it is almost a duplicate copy of my career, it is not a description of me. It is a description of a friend of mine who I went to and graduated high school with, Tom Gallagher. Since I graduated over thirty years ago, I haven’t had any direct contact with Tom. Instead, as I ran into people that he worked with I would ask about how he was doing, and likewise, when he ran into people I worked with at the M&E, he would enquire about me and send his regards.Tom was always one of those people that I knew where to find him but never took the time to actually do it. His career took him from the Stations department at NJ Transit to the Operating department, where he has been an engineer for almost 20 years, and my career was spent managing operations at the M&E and more recently into the responsibility seat at the Mass Central. Our careers were moving on tracks in similar directions, but last week his had an abrupt stop of the most horrible kind.Tom was the engineer on NJ Transit Train 1614 on Thursday, September 28, 2016, and as his train approached its final stop at the Hoboken Terminal, the train failed to stop. The train, which was a push-pull consist, with a cab car, three coaches, and a diesel locomotive on the hind end, was being controlled by Tom from the cab at the front of the train. The train went over the bumping block on track 5, hit the roof of the terminal, and when it finally came to a stop, the nose of the train was sitting against the wall of the waiting room of the terminal. One person, a commuter who was unfortunately in the wrong place at the right time, was killed by debris from the crash, and over 100 people, including Tom, were injured.I don’t have any inside knowledge of what went on, nor have I had any contact with Tom or his family. Like everyone, my information comes from the NTSB and the media, and I don’t have any really good ideas of what caused this accident to happen. I’m going to wait to see if PTC could have prevented this accident before I get on my soapbox to proclaim it a necessary savior of the industry (unlike a number of politicians, especially the senior senator from New Jersey). What I can do is make the introduction of one of the crew members, one that I did have the honor of growing up with over 30 years ago, and one that we are all going to get to know over the coming year.I hope that you get to know the Tom Gallagher that I got to know back then. --By Steve Friedland
steven-fb.jpg Steve Friedland, vice president and general manager of Massachusetts Central Railroad, is a well-known leader in the short line industry who has devoted more than two decades to railroading. He got his start with the Morristown & Erie Railway, a 42-mile New Jersey short line, where he worked for 22 years in all areas of the railroad, including track, mechanical, signals, and operations. In 1999, he founded Short Line Data Systems, a provider of railroad EDI and dispatching software, AEI hardware, and management consulting to the short line industry. He has served as the ASLRRA representative to the AAR’s Wireless Communications Committee and was chairman of the joint AAR-ASLRRA Short Line Information Improvement Committee. He is currently a member of the ASLRRA’s board of directors.