After four years as a switchman, Michael Neri’s competitive nature drove him to take on the role of yardmaster.
“It’s important to keep challenging yourself,” he said.
Neri credits falling in love with wrestling as a young athlete with helping him develop a strong work ethic. He coaches wrestling at the high school level, hoping to instill that same passion in youth.
Experience as switchman influential
Neri is guided by the respect he developed for those who work in the yard in any weather condition. He welcomes the greater sense of responsibility he feels in his new role.
“I trust myself to help get them home safely,” Neri said. “You become close with everyone, it’s a whole other family.”
The same safety fundamentals that guided him in the field will continue to be relied upon. He said it’s important to maintain a high level of situational awareness and follow safety protocols.
“The rules are there because we learned from mistakes,” Neri said.
While he has four years of experience at the Belt, he started his career in the railroad industry in 2013 with Pacific Rail Services.
“I picked up railroading naturally,” Neri said.
Away from work
He practices the high-intensity fitness regimen CrossFit. Neri also is training for the Milwaukee Marathon; it sometimes includes his 10-month-old son, Noah, who rides along in a stroller.
“I want to have a good influence on him and provide a good environment for him,” he said. “As he gets older, I want him to see me reach goals.”
“I trust myself to help get them home safely.“
— Yardmaster Michael Neri