That’s quite an interesting question, isn’t? While for the railroad workers the question might sound weird, for people with less knowledge about trains and how they operate it’s an enigma.
You see a huge freight train with tens if not hundreds of cars, and there is the locomotive engineer ( also called a train driver in some parts of the world), making sure the train and the freight will arrive safely at its destination.
Now, the question of how and where train engineers go to the bathroom arises, believe me you are not the only one asking this, and no, it is not weird.
Train engineers (locomotive / engine engineers) are in charge of operating the train, and as any other human being they need a bathroom break.
Where do Train Engineers Go To The Bathroom?
Train engineers go to the built-in locomotive bathroom, located in the front hood area of the locomotive. Depending on the year and model of the engine, some bathrooms have better options than others.
How do Train Engineers Go To The Bathroom?
Now that we know where the train bathroom for the personnel is located, you might ask how do train engineers go to the bathroom? What happens with the train and if there is someone else taking the control of it while the engineer is taking a bathroom break.
There are few scenarios that can happen;
1. For any reason there is more than one locomotive engineer on board, which would allow one of them to take a bathroom break.
2. There is just one locomotive engineer on board and he has to use the bathroom, he has to stop the train in order to do so.
3. There is a planned upcoming stop, either red signals or siding signals.
Let’s start with the first scenario, in this case the option is simple, while the main engineer uses the bathroom, the other one will take control of the train, of course if allowed by law and or dispatcher ( if applicable in this situation).
In the second scenario, assuming the conductor and the engineer are the only personnel in the cab at that moment, the train engineer has to fully stop the train and have the conductor contact the dispatch to let them know they’re stopped. Nobody except a fully licensed train engineer is allowed to operate the train.
This scenario is for an emergency bathroom stop, most of them are not an emergency, which takes us to the 3rd scenario.
It is not unusual to operate in intervals of 2 to maximum 3 hours at the time before having to stop for a red signal. Which gives the opportunity to the engineer to use the bathroom. From what I have heard this is one of the most common scenarios.