southwest DIVISION NEWS
Commitment to safety, quality
Los Angeles Eighth Street Coach Under normal circumstances, the of a brake actuator replacement proj-
Yard Mechanical employees continue inspection can be performed during ect that began last winter in response
to bring a safe, no-nonsense approach turnaround service. Depending on the to an internal defect.
to every workday. nature of any defects found, the loco- “We were experiencing a lot of
The team has performed locomo- motive may need to be shopped. freeze damage,” Vincent said.
tive fuel system inspections with the Gaskets and connections usu- The actuator is the mechanism
goal of eliminating locomotive fires. ally can be repaired on the spot. that presses the brake shoe against the
“No locomotive leaves Los Component changeouts typically re- wheel. Each Superliner car features
Angeles until all the fuel inspection quire shop time. 16 actuators and requires two days of
campaign work is complete,” said The team balances safety with labor by carmen in the wheel pit area.
F.G. Vincent, assistant superintendent. on-time performance and quality. Vincent finds inspiration in em-
“We make sure the system is operating Employees take pride in their work, ployees’ dedication to their work.
as intended. It’s the most important knowing they have a direct effect on “Our people are proud to provide
thing we’ve been doing lately.” the safety of their co-workers and the safe, clean, on-time service,” he said.
Items of focus include fuel lines, general public. “That’s the goal of everyone here.
fuel pressure, piping and system com- “The loss of equipment is one We’re shooting for all three.”
ponents. Crews ensure components thing, but the potential loss of human The tightly knit team takes pride
are torqued properly and that there are life is unacceptable,” Vincent said. in its contributions. Safe 2 Safer
no fuel leaks. The shop was nearing completion and Work Smart have helped bring
See Commitment to Safety on page 4.
Carman Brian Morciglio removes a brake actuator from a Superliner Machinist Ed Mitchell inspects a GE locomotive engine fuel line for signs
coach car. of leakage.
Safe 2 Safer culture change takes shape
observation process. During a three-day course, Safe 2
“People have been very re- Safer members learned how to interpret
ceptive,” said Robert Villarreal, the data compiled during the observation
Safe 2 Safer facilitator. “As the process, then turn it into an action plan.
observations have increased, “We’re learning how to change at-
we’ve been seeing safe behav- risk behaviors into safe behaviors,”
iors increase.” Villarreal said.
Villarreal serves as Safe In March, facilitators from through-
2 Safer facilitator for the out the system met in Nashville to dis-
Southwest Desert Gulf Region. cuss successes and areas for improve-
His territory encompasses Fort ment. He left the meeting with a clearer
Worth, Dallas, San Antonio and understanding of his role as a facilitator.
El Paso, as well as Albuquerque A conductor by trade, Villarreal has
and La Junta, Colo. worked on the Heartland Flyer from Fort
He appreciates the employee- Worth to Oklahoma City for the past
driven aspect of the program, 11 years. He was originally tabbed for
and sees an opportunity to begin the Safe 2 Safer steering committee by
a culture change that will make James Billings, UTU local chairman.
safety a workplace norm. He applied for the facilitator job in
“The employees are running September and began the role Oct. 18.
the show,” he said. “Safety can The job will change hands every two
become a part of our everyday years with the goal of involving as many
Safe 2 Safer Facilitator Robert Villarreal stands with fellow
facilitators, Donesta Lay, left, and Angela Morrison during the
lives.” people in the Safe 2 Safer process as
conference in Nashville. Villarreal wants employees possible.
throughout the region to become “I want everyone in our region to
After a 2010 rollout on the Southwest more comfortable talking about safety be more focused on safe behaviors and
Division, Safe 2 Safer has helped iden- and watching out for one another. the region overall to become a bet-
tify at-risk behaviors that need to be “Everyone should be able to perform ter place,” Villarreal said. “Everyone
addressed. Employees are becoming their job safely so they can go home to should be concerned and watching out
more familiar with the program and the their family,” he said. for each other.”
National Train Day educates and entertains
National Train Day, held May 7, refreshment table and distributed junior believes train travel will increase. He
brought together the city of Maricopa, conductor hats and silver display trains. believes the event showed the public
Ariz., and Amtrak in a partnership to He said now more than ever it’s that commuting into Phoenix by train is
educate residents on the history and important for the public to know about a viable option.
importance of trains in the area. Front train travel as an alternative to airplane Comesano and Lorenzo thought the
and center at the depot was a California or automobile. day was a success and helped educate
Zephyr railcar. Dan Comesano, trainmaster, agreed the public on the fun aspects of train
According to Bob Lorenzo, lead the event was important in promoting travel.
station agent, the city’s historical society national and local train travel. He said it “We have a dining car and a lounge
used the Zephyr car to showcase paint- brought locals out to see how and when car,” Lorenzo said, “which is something
ings and photos dating back to the 1890s. Amtrak operated. With gas prices in- you won’t find on an airplane or in your
Inside the terminal, Lorenzo manned the creasing across much of the country, he vehicle.”
Got a great story? Let us know!
For news coverage, contact Nathan at the newsletter office by phone at 402-475-6397, fax 402-475-6398, email email@example.com or mail information to 1845 S. 11th St., Lincoln, NE 68502-2211.
This newsletter appears under the direction of the general superintendent. This material is intended to be an overview of the news of the Southwest Division. If there are any discrepancies between
this newsletter and any collective bargaining process, insurance contracts or other official documents, those documents will govern. Amtrak continues to maintain and reserves the right, at any time, to
alter suspend, discontinue or terminate all plans and programs described in this newsletter. This newsletter is not an employment contract or any type of employment guarantee. Any photo
submitted may be used. Anyone who submits a photo retains all rights to the image. However, by submission you give the newsletter permission to use your photo(s) in all related media.
Thank you to everyone who contributed to this issue of the newsletter, including but not limited to, Dan Comesano, Laura Drogan, Robert Villarreal and F.G. Vincent.
San Diego welcomes Safe 2 Safer
Safe 2 Safer continues to grow do something a certain way 20
in the Southwest Division. Laura years ago doesn’t mean we can’t
Drogan, facilitator, and Randy improve it.”
Salisbury, steering committee Drogan noted support from the
member and instructor, met with entire management team, a key to
six employees in San Diego to fur- the future success of Safe 2 Safer.
ther expand the safety program. “Without manager support this
During the first day, Drogan won’t work,” she said. “For a small
and Salisbury explained the history crew base it was crucial to get ev-
of Safe 2 Safer and behavior obser- eryone the time off they needed for
vation. The second day focused on training.”
using the classroom information in During the two days of training,
the work environment. Employees managers from all crafts stopped in
performed practice observations to voice their support.
and shared results with co-work- “Having managers stop by was
ers to better understand how the great,” Drogan said. “It reinforces
process works. to employees that we are all in this
“We want observers to under- together. Culture change doesn’t
stand how to recognize behaviors happen without the entire team on
Manager of Stations Carol Crego, standing, voices her support for
and correct anything they see that the same page. We’re confident Safe 2 Safer to San Diego employees. Employees in attendance
will improve safety,” Drogan said. San Diego is heading in the right included C.J. Hardman, David Ketring, Mary Miskina, Precious
“Even if we had been trained to direction.” Nichols, Yogi Pilley and Leonard Robidoux.
Comesano joins team
Dan Comesano lives by
a motto: communicate face-
to-face and eye-to-eye. In
April, he brought that motto
to his new role as trainmaster
in Maricopa, Ariz.
Comesano has spent
years developing his mot-
to. It started in the small
Ottumwa, Iowa, where he
began his career in 1978 with Employees and passengers
the Milwaukee Road. Next, alike enjoy new food offerings
he joined crews working the while on board Amtrak’s popular
Sioux Line. Pacific Surfliner.
In October 1990, he Dan Comesano, trainmaster A menu change, which took
joined Amtrak in Kansas City, Mo. He soon transferred to Phoenix, and since effect Feb. 15, enhances pass-
1991 has worked a territory that spanned from Los Angeles to Texas. engers’ options. It includes a
“It was the right time for me to get into management,” he said. “I had always variety of salads, snacks and hot
wanted to, and I saw a way to help improve our customer service.” entrees.
Comesano said customer service is key to expanding Amtrak’s role in the New menu items are in re-
community. As a trainmaster, the two main issues he will focus on are commu- sponse to changing requests of
nication and safety. The latter, he said, is always the top priority around the track. Pacific Surfliner passengers,
As for the former, he passes along knowledge of what worked for him. who wanted more health-
“You give a passenger five minutes of your time,” he said. “Sit down, have conscious options according
a face-to-face conversation and look them in the eye. It usually rectifies the to Michael Dwyer, director of
situation.” Contract Food and Beverage.
LSAs proud of Heartland Flyer success
Through hard work and a little in Fort Worth at 12:39 p.m. That eve- Cooper said. “Everyone works very dili-
Southern hospitality, Heartland Flyer’s ning, the train departs Fort Worth at gently to make this the best train.”
lead service attendants have helped make 5:25 p.m. and returns to Oklahoma City The Heartland Flyer enjoys several
their train one of Amtrak’s most highly at 9:39 p.m. advantages. The train runs exclusively on
regarded. However, those times are subject to BNSF track, and many of the Heartland
From making small talk to meeting change. Flyer’s passengers are regulars. Third,
customers’ needs, LSAs are an integral “If we hit the :39 mark, something’s the train is funded in part by the states of
part of the Flyer’s passenger experience, wrong, because nine times out of 10 we’re Oklahoma and Texas.
according to Lila Cooper, lead service early,” Cooper said. An Illinois native, Cooper has lived
attendant. Not only do the train’s passengers in the South since 1978. She therefore
“Once the conductors take the tick- arrive early or on time, they arrive happy. feels comfortable catering to the unique
ets, it’s the LSA that makes or breaks the Cooper, along with Doty, Dougherty personalities and expectations of her
trip,” she said. “We’re the ones who take and Villarreal earned a service award customers.
care of the passengers.” called “Champion of the Rail” in 2008 “There’s a different attitude down
Cooper is joined by fellow LSA’s based on their consistently high customer here,” she said. “There’s a difference
Carol Dougherty and Connie Thurston service scores. in the way we present ourselves to our
and Conductors Michael Doty and Robert “The other regions wonder how we passengers. We’re down-home country
Villarreal. They see the connection be- do it,” she said. “Our scores are in the 90s folk.”
tween their service and their livelihood. on up. If our score drops, it really freaks Cooper was hired as an assistant con-
“The passenger is our job security,” us out because we wonder what we’re do- ductor for the Heartland Flyer. Later that
she said. “If they don’t like the service ing wrong.” year, she decided to become a lead service
and stop riding, we don’t have a job.” The team’s success can be attributed attendant.
Each morning, the train departs to a tight-knit, positive work atmosphere. “Time flies when you’re having fun,”
Oklahoma City at 8:25 a.m. and arrives “We have one train out of here a day,” she said. “We love our job.”
Fort Worth Train Day a hit
Fort Worth’s second annual National engine and a coach car were on display. of Operation Lifesaver, Operation
Train Day celebration was a resounding “You could tell the kids just loved RedBlock and Trinity Railway Express,
success, according to William Shaffer, seeing the locomotives,” Shaffer said. a commuter rail provider running from
operations supervisor. “The locomotive display was the high- Dallas to Fort Worth with which Amtrak
“We had a good group of people light of the event.” shares a station.
here to see everything,” he said of the Dozens of Amtrak personnel were Velida Breakfield represented
May 7 event. “It was a nice, steady on hand, including Don Johnson, prod- Operation RedBlock, while Edward
crowd.” uct line agent, who raffled a free trip on Hobbs met with guests on behalf of
Drawing adults and children of all a passenger train. Operation Lifesaver.
ages, the event gave families an opportu- A disc jockey played music and a “It’s always good to have Velida and
nity to pose next to railroad equipment. sketch artist drew portraits. Edward out because they’re focusing on
Two BNSF locomotives, an Amtrak P42 Booths were staffed by the likes two very important things,” Shaffer said.
Commitment to Safety from page 1.
employees together even closer.
“People don’t want to see From left,
anyone harmed, so they watch Carmen Brian
each other,” Vincent said. Morciglio, Wilson
Lu and Al Miller
“They help each other when team remove and
they have problems.” replace brake
actuators on a