Becoming a Conductor?

General discussion about working in the railroad industry. Industry employers are welcome to post openings here.

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Becoming a Conductor?

Postby weis53 » Tue Mar 28, 2017 10:40 am

Hey guys, I'm new here as you can see. When I was younger I always loved trains, I grew up here in Southern West Virginia and watched the Northfork Southern Rail Line forever hauling the coal thru my town. As I got older I lost more and more interest, especially with hurtful coal regulations killing so much in my area, however last night I started thinking real hard about my career, after I graduate from high school. I originally planned to hit the coal mines for a few years, and then get my CDL and drive cross country. I am 17 now, and will 18 in November I might be graduating early too so I have started looking and planning out jobs and trying to decide specifically. The closest RR to me are CSX and NS. They laid off a lot of people here so I don't think I can find a job locally. My question is will they allow me to travel from my home county? I have land left to me and just don't wanna leave. Also what kind of training am I looking at? Is it a good job for a high school graduate? I know it's more money then most make here in my town even starting off. How long would it take to become an engineer thru seniority? What's it like working for NS or CSX? What is the day like in the life of a Conductor? Any guidance, or information would be greatly appreciated.
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Re: Becoming a Conductor?

Postby Engineer Spike » Fri May 19, 2017 11:19 pm

At your young age, I would recommend some vocational training. Even if you were able to get hired, that does not mean a steady paycheck. You would likely get cut, just like all of those other thousands. Many young railroaders don't get to work year round. This requires some other skill set.

Another point is that you said that you want to stay close. Sometimes you need to move, as railroad traffic patterns change. When I started, I ended up needing to move, after my first year. A yard closed, and a couple of branches were short lined. This made me have to move 2 hours away. At my new terminal, we had a slow period. Guys were bidding in from everywhere. Therefore, if you are set on staying put, the railroad might not be a good choice.

I work a road pool. Right now, I spend two days working, then home for one. Sometimes I can bid a local job, even though I don't like them. With my seniority, I have that choice. Junior guys get the spare board, or some night yard job, with Wednesday, and Thursday off. Meanwhile, your buddies are hanging out on Friday, and Saturday nights.

My advice is to live a little first. Go to college. Learn a trade. HVAC is a good one, since even in a bad economy, people need heat. Join the Army. You might broaden your horizons, by seeing life abroad. You might learn a trade, which will be applicable to civilian life, and get paid, in the process. They might pay for college too.

I am not trying to discourage your hopes. The railroad can be a hard place to work, especially in the beginning. It has been a good living for me. You just need to be prepared for it.
"Welcome all ye who enter; the show that never ends. Tingfield Sperminal Railway." (Graffiti on the entry to Mohawk Yard Office)
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