Friday, March 7, 2014

Meet Conductor Kelly Block

Over the past few weeks, we've met and collected the stories of dozens of train passengers, employees, small town citizens and local leaders. Like Martha said, we're beginning to realize how much of what we've learned about these folks won't make it into our radio series. We want to profile some of the interviewees that touched us, and hopefully you'll get to hear their voices on the radio soon.

Conductor Block in the dining car before the lunchtime crowd. 
Conductor Kelly Block has lived in La Junta off and on since 1978; growing up in a railroad town seemed to get to him in 2007, when he joined BNSF freight lines. He moved to Amtrak after an 18-month furlough from the freight lines, and has been a conductor on the Southwest Chief ever since, serving the portion between Dodge City, KS and La Junta.

"Every trip--no matter that I go the same route pretty much the same time of morning and same time of night--every trip is different. You never know who you're gonna get on, what might arise--anywhere from a problem passenger that we may have to have removed at a station stop, to someone who just makes my day or who smiles and laughs or you can joke with. Every trip is different."

Though rerouting would require Block to commute or transfer out of state, feels optimistic about the future of the Chief passing through his hometown. He said,
"It's convenient, it's romantic, it's train travel! What better way to go?"

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