Volunteer

The Catskill Mountain Railroad is an all-volunteer operation, with over 150 active volunteers. Would you like to contribute towards a valuable community asset? Have you ever wanted to work around trains and gain practical experience? You can join us! We could use your help in all aspects of running the railroad including:

  • Locomotive Engineers
  • Conductors and Brakemen
  • Passenger Car Attendants
  • Ticket Agents
  • Brush Cutting and ROW maintenance
  • Track Reconstruction and Maintenance
  • Equipment Restoration and Maintenance
  • Station Maintenance
  • Marketing, Sales, Group Tours, Special Events and Publicity
  • Engineering, Compliance, Planning
  • Community Participation and Relations
  • General Administration

If you have ever wanted to help build and operate a railroad, the CMRR offers a unique opportunity to do so. Although no prior experience is needed, the CMRR trains its volunteers to work under strict safety standards and follow the same operating rules as other railroads.

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Our Volunteers

Our Volunteers

The greatest asset of the Catskill Mountain Railroad is our passionate and dedicated corps of skilled people. Volunteers that travel far and wide have accomplished many great projects, despite natural disasters and other setbacks. Our all-volunteer crews are poster-children for the words “enthusiasm” and “perseverance”.

The CMRR has trained volunteers in railroading, heavy equipment operations, and restoring railroad equipment. Many of our volunteers have gone on to successful careers in the railroad and heavy equipment industries due to training received at the CMRR.

Of our current 120 volunteers, half are residents of Ulster County, and most of the rest are from neighboring counties, though we have a half dozen  who come from out of state.

Volunteers/Stockholders

Volunteers/Stockholders

The Catskill Mountain Railroad is an all-volunteer railroad with more than 120 volunteers. It is also a Railroad Corporation founded in the State of New York in 1983, today with 74 stockholders, of whom 47 are active volunteers on the railroad. It is a grass-roots organization, and in many ways the purest form of citizen capitalism, with most of the stockholders coming from working class backgrounds in or near Ulster County. The CMRR volunteers have raised $300,000 in equity capital since it was formed in 1983, and most importantly form a group of highly skilled laborers who can
take on nearly any task necessary in running a railroad. 12% of our volunteers are from Kingston, 38% from the rest of Ulster County, 45% from other counties in New York State, and 5% from out of state.

Safety First

Safety First

A strict safety program including a rigorous Operating Rules safety course, machine operator training, specific job briefings, and jobsite dress code, help to create a culture where “Safety” is our number one concern.

CMRR volunteers who enter train service are subject to the same types of rules and safety regulations as other railroads. Qualification classes are held every winter and our volunteer employees are tested on both written rules and operating practices appropriate for their responsibilities.

Becoming a Volunteer

Becoming a Volunteer

The railroad requires all new volunteers to go through a “provisional” status until they reach a minimum of 40 hours of work towards board-sanctioned projects. Upon reaching 40 or more hours, a volunteer must be approved by the Board of Directors before becoming a full Volunteer. All full volunteers are eligible to become project foreman, and also to become CMRR stockholders.

Any member of the public over 16 is eligible to become a volunteer with the railroad. A variety of tasks are needed to run a railroad, which include:

  • Train Crew (Engineer, Conductor, Brakeman, Car Attendant)
  • Dispatcher, Ticket Agent and Station Masters
  • Track Reconstruction and Maintenance
  • Equipment Restoration and Maintenance
  • Brush Cutting and ROW Maintenance
  • Marketing, Sales, Group Tours, Special Events and Publicity
  • Engineering, Compliance, Planning
  • Educational Programs, Community Participation and Relations
  • General Administration
CMRR As A Model For Other Counties

CMRR As A Model For Other Counties

The CMRR has had an unblemished safety record running freshly restored historic trains on track rebuilt by volunteers. It is a unique organization unlike any other in Ulster County, or for that matter, any in New York State.

As funding for government projects dwindles, especially at the County level, the most important contribution a grass-roots organization like the CMRR can bring to the table is not just equity, but extremely skilled volunteer labor. The 20% or similar match for federal or state funds can be provided with this combination of equity and labor.

At the state level, this form of partnership is called the “Private Public Partnership” or PPP, made between state and city governments and private infrastructure investment companies. At the county level, which is too small for the large private infrastructure companies, a home-grown organization like the CMRR forms an effective partner for county government.

We at the CMRR believe that the partnership between a private organization like the CMRR and a public entity such as Ulster County, both with the same goals, represents a model for other counties in New York to emulate.

Misunderstandings About "For-Profit"

Misunderstandings About "For-Profit"

Some people criticize the railroad for being a for-profit corporation. It is for-profit because it is a Railroad Corporation set up pursuant to Section Five of the Railroad Law of the State of New York. Being a railroad corporation gives the CMRR certain legal benefits, such as making it a felony to intentionally block railroad tracks (NY RRD Law §53-e). Despite the for-profit status, the CMRR acts essentially like a non-profit as it does not distribute dividends to stockholders, and instead reinvests all operating surpluses back into the railroad. As a railroad corporation, the CMRR can apply for infrastructure grants just like any other short line railroad in the State of New York.