Trading a seat in an airplane cockpit to take the wheel of a train as an engineer may not seem like a natural career move. To be sure, it is not ordinarily a natural career move. Yet, according to a Euronews article on January 24, 2021, some otherwise out-of-commission pilots in Switzerland will soon make the transition from the air to the tracks. I suppose that moving from planes to trains is a novel idea for dealing with the deleterious effects of the Wuhan coronavirus on the commercial airline industry.

From Planes to Trains to Switzerland

According to the Euronews article, the idea of moving out-of-work commercial airline pilots to trains “has been on the table for months.” Aeropers, the trade association for Swiss pilots, supports members who are interested in shifting to rail. It just so happens, according to the article, that there is a shortage of train operators in Switzerland. Aeropers hopes that its push to put pilots in trains “will inspire other countries in Europe.”

Photo of NY freight locomotive built by Westinghouse Company, clipped from "The Modern Railroad" by Edward Hungerford
Clip from 1911 book “The Modern Railroad” by Edward Hungerford – freight locomotive built by the Westinghouse Company

A Pilot-Turned-Engineer’s Take

How do pilots feel about it? The article includes a comment from Carlos Spruengli, who will be one of the first pilots to transition to trains. He sounded less than enthusiastic about his mid-career move. Describing his relationship with the airline industry, he stated that “[i]t’s like a relationship if the other party doesn’t want anything from you, then you have to swallow your pride and carry on.”

While it is all well and good that some out-of-work Swiss pilots can put their skills to good use, I hope that those pilots can return to the sky in the near future.

One Plane to Train Point That I am Unsure About

I have one quibble with the article. The article suggests that the professions of flying a plane and driving a train “are similar.” Now, to be sure, I have neither flown a plane nor driven a train. But I have my doubt that the professions are too similar, although I would venture that it is probably easier to go from plane to train than train to plane.

Accompanying Video Content

You can watch the Euronews video accompanying the article on YouTube.

The New Leaf Journal on Airplanes

We sadly do not have much train content at The New Leaf Journal yet. While I will fix that in the future, you can enjoy my two posts on a 2020 Thunderbirds-Blue Angels flyover of New York City from last May.