I’m an avid YouTube watcher and I’ve viewed plenty of videos from people who illegally hop freight trains to travel across the country. In the Western United States, it can sometimes be tough to find a rideable freight car. Intermodal trains typically have DPU or Distributed Power Units located in the middle or rear of the train. DPUs add additional traction, pushing, and pulling power.
Sometimes, these units are unlocked and they provide the perfect ride for freight train hoppers. However, one of the biggest dangers to riding in the cab of an engine is the inspection process. DPUs are federally required to be inspected once a day. There’s a card in the cab that a worker signs off after each inspection. This allows the illegal train rider to determine if an inspection has been completed and if not, to expect one at the next crew change point.
Now you might be thinking, after the events of September 11th, 2001, that all freight trains and their engines would be locked down for security reasons. But for one reason or another, some of the units remain unlocked. I think it’s because it’s the Western United States where the trains travel through the middle of nowhere and workers have become lax over time.
With that said, here are two videos that show an illegal freight train rider stuck in the cab during the inspection process. This is the kind of entertainment that’s gripping and way better than the reality TV crap that’s available today.
Those who get caught are usually taken to jail to face trespassing charges and pay a hefty fine. However, not all workers turn people in. There have been some instances where engineers will instruct a rider they catch to stay on board until the next crew change and drop them off so at least they’re off their train. Some engineers give hobos or train riders a care package that includes bottled water and some food.
I wonder what the workers are actually inspecting if they don’t check the bathrooms of these units. Perhaps their only goal is to make sure no one is actually in the cab as train companies want to keep high-priority trains moving as much as possible.