BNSF Extra Board

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BNSF Extra Board

Postby militaryhorn » Thu Feb 20, 2014 2:41 pm

While I was at the interview, they covered the way you are selected for work and they also mention something about the extra board. The way I understood this was that while you are on the extra board you are guaranteed a paycheck no matter how much you work. Two questions:

1. How often are you on the extra board?

2. This extra board sounds extremely like a good deal, why doesn't everyone do it?

If I could get examples on how this works or any insight to it, I would appreciate any information.

Thanks.
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Re: BNSF Extra Board

Postby jogden » Wed Feb 26, 2014 11:38 pm

militaryhorn wrote:While I was at the interview, they covered the way you are selected for work and they also mention something about the extra board. The way I understood this was that while you are on the extra board you are guaranteed a paycheck no matter how much you work. Two questions:

1. How often are you on the extra board?


As often as you mark to it. This is not like doctors, where they spend a few days a week or a month on call, this is an assignment you specifically choose to be on or are forced to be on and you are on call for anything in your craft (conductor, engineer, brakeman, etc.) 24/7 as long as you are on it. If you stay on the extra board for a week, then you are on it that whole week. Usually the extra board is not a preferred job, so depending how much seniority you need to work a better job regularly, you may be on it for years.

militaryhorn wrote:2. This extra board sounds extremely like a good deal, why doesn't everyone do it?


Most railroads, including the BNSF, do guarantee a minimum monthly pay rate if you are on the extra board. Keep in mind though that the railroads are running a business and the guaranteed minimum is only there so that they can keep guys around when traffic is slow, and guys won't quit because they're not making any money. When it is slow, they cut the number of positions available on the extra board to what they feel they need, so everyone on it works more than if they made no cuts. The railroad generally hates paying guarantee because they get nothing for it, but it is a necessary evil for them, it is basically an insurance policy.

Why doesn't everyone do it? Well, most of the time you are working hard enough that you earn more than guarantee anyway, so that doesn't really make much of a difference. They work you hard and you never have any idea when you are going to work. Now, on any other job, work schedules can be pretty unpredictable too, but with the extra board you have the added complication that people can mark off or go on vacation and the extra board has to cover those holes. If someone gets sick, there may be no warning that you are going to work other than the phone ringing. It is extremely difficult to be well rested on the extra board and you cannot plan anything more than a couple hours in advance (and sometimes not even that) because you have no idea when you will be going to work or for how long you will be gone, until the phone rings.
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Re: BNSF Extra Board

Postby militaryhorn » Wed Mar 12, 2014 2:42 pm

thanks for the info jogden. Doesn't sound too much different than my aircrew job I have in the Air Force. Always a phone call away from being alerted, but in our case unless we are already sitting alert we require 12 hours of crew rest before flight. If we are on alert, then we have no idea when or if we are going to be alerted and have no idea when to rest/sleep. The exception I think for the AF is that we can only sit alert for 24 to 48 hours, whereas it sounds like the extra board can go for a couple weeks at a time.
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Re: BNSF Extra Board

Postby jogden » Wed Mar 12, 2014 7:08 pm

militaryhorn wrote:The exception I think for the AF is that we can only sit alert for 24 to 48 hours, whereas it sounds like the extra board can go for a couple weeks at a time.


Correction: the extra board can go indefinitely. :wink:

I know there are hours of service regulations and maximum numbers of consecutive days you can work, etc., etc., but trust me when I say that the railroad knows ALL the loopholes to minimize the down time! Manpower is only useful to them if trains are moving, and generally they like to keep guys working as much as possible.

If you are trying to make a little extra money fairly quickly, the extra board can definitely help with that, but it can also burn you out pretty quickly!
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Re: BNSF Extra Board

Postby militaryhorn » Fri Mar 14, 2014 1:51 pm

Hey, if I get this job with BNSF as a conductor, I would be interested in moving back to Anchorage to work up there later on. How often do conductor positions come open up there? Also, where does Alaska Railroad go to from Anchorage and do they run during the winter months? By the way, I still have my house in Eagle River (being rented right now), go check on it for me LOL!
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Re: BNSF Extra Board

Postby jogden » Fri Mar 14, 2014 7:28 pm

Alaska Railroad hires Brakemen every spring. This year's job posting should go up very soon if it hasn't already. Check the employment section of http://www.alaskarailroad.com. You have to start as a Brakeman if you want to work as a Conductor or Engineer here. Usually people work for two years as a Brakeman before being promoted to Conductor, although sometimes it happens faster. I was only with the railroad eight months before getting promoted.

The railroad has several terminals. Anchorage is the biggest and from there trains operate everywhere. Fairbanks, Healy, Whittier, and Seward are also terminals, with crews based at all but Whittier. In the summer a crew is also based in Talkeetna for passenger service.

The railroad does run year round, although there is a pretty significant reduction in service in the winter. The freight stays pretty steady throughout the year, but the passenger trains are where the big drop in traffic occurs. In the summer we run about ten to 12 passenger trains per day, while in the winter that number drops to two to three a week. Express freight trains between Anchorage and Fairbanks run both direction, five days a week, year round. Whittier traffic varies depending on the barge schedules, but can be as little as one train a week and as much as five to eight trains a week, it just depends how many barges are coming in. That is true year round. In the summer we run a couple of coal trains per week between Healy and Seward, which continue year round, except for a maintenance break by the coal mine in the spring. In the winter, if the Port of Anchorage freezes up we run additional freight trains between Anchorage and Seward to handle barge traffic that would normally come to Anchorage. The only real summer freight trains we have are the gravel trains, which run as long as the ground is not frozen. Usually there are two to four of those per day, although it really depends on the construction industry. Whenever the state has a major construction project going on somewhere, we run more gravel trains.

Because of the reduction in service in the winter, most people in train service expect to get laid off for the winter for the first several years of employment at Alaska Railroad. Depending on traffic levels, it could be as many as the first ten years, or as little as the first year. That said, the railroad pays well enough during the summer that people who are responsible with their money can usually make enough in the summer to live all year. When that is the case, the seasonal layoff is more like a nice, free vacation! In fact, I usually sell my paid vacation back to the company and just do all my vacationing during the winter when I am off anyway.
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Re: BNSF Extra Board

Postby militaryhorn » Mon Mar 17, 2014 8:15 am

Thanks for the infomation. I will keep an eye out for any job postings. I retire in Aug from the military and hopefully I will get this job here in San Antonio with BNSF as a conductor. The good thing about San Antonio is that there is no yard here so if I do get on I will be on the road immediately.
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Re: BNSF Extra Board

Postby Dick H » Wed Mar 19, 2014 12:42 pm

Mr. Buffet is hiring 5000, and buying 500 new locos, too.

http://www.star-telegram.com/2014/03/18 ... .html?rh=1
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Re: BNSF Extra Board

Postby militaryhorn » Thu Mar 20, 2014 3:17 pm

That is good news for me then. I think I have a job waiting for me. I was selected as an alternate from my interview and they reposted the San Antonio job just a couple weeks ago. Since I was selected as an alternate for the first round of interviews, I would assume they needed more bodies to fill their next class up and I just have to wait for the next interviews to be done with. I have a friend who applied and if he gets an interview then I can guage on when I should get my conditional offer of employment.

Wish me luck.
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Re: BNSF Extra Board

Postby Komachi » Sat Jul 05, 2014 6:49 pm

Work-related postings... Employment Forum...
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