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Engineering Student
How do train crews get time to eat when on duty? Are they allowed to go to the nearest fast food joint by the tracks if time allows? I recently heard a UP freight in a siding waiting for MoW to clear up and they asked if they had time to get food.

Thanks for your input!
Alex Wilson
Castro Valley, CA
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Bill Anderson

Well-Known Member
I lived near the Western Pacific's South Sacramento Yard in the late 70's-early 80's. I believe it was part of the railroad's agreement with the union that the railroad had to provide meals for the crew after they were on duty a certain number of hours. I would hear the train crew ordering meals over the radio and seeing them delivered to the crew as their train was sitting in the yard.


Active Member
Trains magazine had an article years ago about a diner on the former Missouri Pacific that I believe catered only to the railroad.

The diner had a railroad radio that the train crew would call their order in and the train would stop and pick their order up; I don't know if that is still being done.

I know MofW employees get a meal after a certain amount of hours worked; I believe it is something like after working 7 or 11 hours the railroad has to feed them.

Train crews bring food with them, although I know that they will stop at a nearby eatery whenever possible.
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It depends on the assignment, the railroad, and the working conditions. I have worked jobs where we brought our lunches with us, and other jobs where we were able to stop enroute . The agreement provides for a 20" meal period in the yard, between 4½ and 6 hours on duty, or "A "Reasonable time to Eat enroute, on a Road assignment. In passenger service, one gets time to eat during the layover at the turnaround point.
On one turnaround assignment, the Oak Island yardmaster would send transportation to take us out to the Delancy St. Lunch Truck, while waiting for our return train to be ready. The lunch truck, was the only game in town at 0430. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to - An online railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used railroad books. Railroad pictorials, railroad history, steam locomotives, passenger trains, modern railroading. Hundreds of titles available, most at discount prices! We also have a video and children's book section. - An online model railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used books. Layout design, track plans, scenery and structure building, wiring, DCC, Tinplate, Toy Trains, Price Guides and more.

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