Schools offering Railroad Skills Training Courses

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

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Re: Is The Railway Educational Bureau any good?

Postby slchub » Wed May 12, 2010 8:12 pm

I've rcvd their catalog before and perused their website, but aside from gaining knowledge about a particular field of the RR, or learning "how to do it" I would not emphasize that you have gained knowledge of the RR operations from a book/booklet from the REB. The Class 1's all have their own SOP's (standard operating practices) approved by the FRA and other agencies. It would be better to learn the SOP's from the carrier you are working for than to glean the same from the REB or other school.

If hired, you'll have your head in the books the RR provides you. No need to confuse the issue of what you learned from an REB book and the SOP's from the carrier.
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Re: Schools offering Railroad Skills Training Courses

Postby slchub » Wed May 12, 2010 9:49 pm

HoggerKen wrote:
gp80mac wrote:
HoggerKen wrote:
It is not a lifestyle, it is it's own reality.


More like it is its own non-reality.


On more than one level, I can agree. But given what behaviorists see on the whole, it is different than most other industries, even today. A lot has changed in the last five decades, but one of the few jobs that has not, is railroading. Still on-call, day or night or holidays. Still working in crappy conditions. Still harassed to no end by management. Still spends too much time away from home and family (and suffers an alarming divorce rate). Still has a higher than normal rate of substance abuse and other anti-social behaviors. One psychologist said it is inherent in the job, especially to those predisposed to such behaviors, that is the reality.
Ah ha! Now I know why I'm so moody to everyone outside work!

Spoken as a true reflection of the "life" there Ken.
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Re: Schools offering Railroad Skills Training Courses

Postby Gadfly » Fri Jun 11, 2010 10:09 am

Prolly not relevant, but when I hired out in the 70's, I never even HEARD of "NARS" or other so-called railroad training "schools". My first day on that "wonderful, romantic (NOT!), exciting railroad the railfans drool over in the magazines? Pulling out old hydraulic cylinders, pumps. motors and other parts from a box car. I was shown which cart to put them on to take them to the steam cleaning area. It was some of the GREASIEST, FILTHIEST, NASTIEST, GRIMY work I had EVER done!! :-) At the end of the day I was a grease booger not fit to sit in my car to drive home! I put newspapers down in the car so I could drive home.

Over the years, the railroad TRAINED me to do whatever job they wanted me to do! I started as the lowliest of the low: a storehouse laborer. I sorted out parts, followed an old electric crane around the 'yard loading stock rail, frogs, and switch packs into gons. I UNLOADED rail and switch packs from deep gons. Summer was ROUGH down inside those gons. They had often been "humped", breaking the banding and scattering the parts all over---all of which you had to pick up and put on another pallet while the crane operator pressed a FEW buttons and YOU sweated until you were WET!

Eventually proving I was a reliable and not-so-dumb "laborer", they decided I was fit for better things, so they trained me as a clerk. NOW I could sit in a office. Eventually, they sent me to McDonough, Ga to train as a line-of-road clerk. THAT'S where the REAL railroadin' began! Waybills, demurrage, weights & rates, and train orders. I was on the Extra Board. You want to know WHERE I actually learned to DO the jobs? ON the JOB, THAT'S WHERE!! Even "railroad boot camp" (I called it) didn't prepare me for much of the actual jobs because they were, while similar, DIFFERENT EVEN WORKING AT DIFFERENT YARDS!!!! No two rate clerk jobs were the same. No two train order offices were identical! If you had not "cubbed" the job (sitting in with the incumbent), you were LOST as lost can be!!!! One job I was "lost" on was Ticket Agent. Railroad training school had not prepared me for it and I had NO clue. That week they had TWO of us Extra Clerks stumbling over each other trying to work the computer and generate tickets for the passenger trains. Now THAT was a SIGHT! Even the passengers were laughing at us!!!! I got thrown onto a mobile agent's job off the 'board and had NEVER been prepared for it. IF I had not been familiar with the town, knew where the customers were from the list, I couldn''t have handled it. And it was a BUSY, BUSY time during which I obviously made mistakes. I(None that got me run off, tho) :wink: But the Trainmaster who looked over my work said that he didn't see HOW I did so well having never even "cubbed" the job.

Now somebody has convinced people that they can go take some silly little course and VOILA: I'M THIS HERE WELL-TRAINED, "EXPERIENCED' RAILROAD MAN/WOMAN WHOSE READY TO SAFELY OPERATE TRAINS, MOVE FREIGHT OVER THE ROAD, AN' I DID IT BY SHELLING OUT $4000 FOR THIS LITTLE-COURSE-IN-A-NUTSHELL. I don't mean to be nasty or harsh, but it took ME years to learn this stuff and it didn't take 6 weeks of bad food and lumpy mattresses to do it! :-D
The real reason for courses like this is to move money from YOUR pockets to THEIRS!!!!!! There's a sucker born every minute and P.T Barnum proved it over 100 years ago!!!! And it appllies to clerks, conductors, engineers, or any trainman as well. You can't just take a "course" and walk out on the ROW and start railroadin', IMHO!

I am NO expert, but I believe these courses are pure HORSESH--, and you would be better off with OJT; the railroad is going to do it ANYWAY! Concentrate on getting hired, become a willing student, and LEARN how to do the job THEIR way!!!! Not from some expensive, encapsulated little course that makes you THINK you can do the job. If the RR wants to send you to some "school", let' em do it on THEIR dime! Honestly, if I were a hiring officer, and I had a "green" applicant who knows nothing (or he ain't sayin' so) and one of these "NARS" folks proudly flashing their "diploma" at me, I'd hire the GREEN guy!!! SAVE your money!

GF
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Railroad and Dating

Postby dmandavid » Wed Jul 07, 2010 9:45 pm

Im currently in College trying to take some classes so I can work in the railroad as my Career goal. Im running into a snag in my dating life. I hear stories that railroading life can be tough on relationships. Lets just say I meet this girl is it best I tell her about my career goal and explain to her about how the railroad work and hope that she will understand and support my goal or should I wait and date the girl for a bit then tell her? I hope this is a good place to post this since this topic wont fit anywhere else.
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Re: Railroad and Dating

Postby Alloy » Thu Jul 08, 2010 1:40 am

I'd say the third date for bringing up something like this. If you get that far, there's some interest there, and it seems only fair to let the girl know.
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Re: Railroad and Dating

Postby COEN77 » Thu Jul 08, 2010 7:11 am

Well, you're not on the railroad so I'd wait if you're interested in this woman. It's can be a tough life. There were times I didn't see my wives for 7-10 days then when I did it was a brief moment. It took it's toll on the relationships with the same wifely response "you love the railroad more than me" or "you'ld much rather be out on the railroad with your friends". I was clueless I thought I was working for the betterment of my family. It's true what people post you'll lose time with your children seeing school plays, watching them play sports ect...miss family functions ect...it takes a special woman to put up with it. They are out there I have quite a few railroad friends who have been married to the same woman for 30+ years most of these relationships they were already together before the railroad. A railroad wife is similiar to a military wife at times they'll have to be both parents. The otherside is people like me who have more than one divorce it's not uncommon percentage is like 70% divorced 30% find someone who'll put up with it. You state you're taking college courses to use on the railroad. You've not mentioned what field with the railroad you're interested in. The two most difficult carreers for a relationship on the railroad are those in transportation (locomotive engineers & trainmen) and traveling track workers. I guess I could throw in trainmasters they don't sit in offices like they use to upper management has them on call 24/7 doing field testing ect...
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Re: Railroad and Dating

Postby dmandavid » Thu Jul 08, 2010 7:40 am

I plan on trying to get on the Railroad as a Conductor or brakeman. But ill take the advise thanks.
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Re: Railroad and Dating

Postby COEN77 » Thu Jul 08, 2010 8:57 am

dmandavid wrote:I plan on trying to get on the Railroad as a Conductor or brakeman. But ill take the advise thanks.

No college course can prepare you for becoming a conductor/brakemen. It's all about on the job training some railroads are better than others. CSX crams a lot of info into a short time span with the REDI center in Atlanta teaching operating rules, signals ect...the rest is around 14 weeks of OJT. That's where you get your first hands on experience. It can be difficult with different conductors/yard foremen every day some willing to train others feel it's a burden. Not to be discouraging but it's a big change from when I hired on in the '70s. Up into the mid '90s a person worked their way thru the ranks starting out as a brakemen for 2-3 years before being considered for promotion to conductor. This fast paced promotion system today puts to much on an individual to fast. They keep modifying the rules no getting on-off moving equipment, 3-step rule before going in between equipment, CSX uses brake sticks to apply hand brakes so no more climbing cars the list goes on. Most of these came about because of crew reductions no one else to protect your back. CSX transformed the job to move at a snails pace but expect the same amount of work as before downsizing. Not all railroads have this philosophy. I'm sure there are some that still railroad like it should be.
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Re: Railroad and Dating

Postby dmandavid » Thu Jul 08, 2010 10:51 am

Im just trying to earn a 2 year degree. That way atleast I have a greater chance of getting selected for testing and interviewed over the guys who have high school degrees. Way things are now im thinking taking a conductor class. I put an few apps into BNSF and NS, they never called me in for testing most likey since the way things are they want experiance guys.
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Re: Railroad and Dating

Postby COEN77 » Thu Jul 08, 2010 11:54 am

dmandavid wrote:Im just trying to earn a 2 year degree. That way atleast I have a greater chance of getting selected for testing and interviewed over the guys who have high school degrees. Way things are now im thinking taking a conductor class. I put an few apps into BNSF and NS, they never called me in for testing most likey since the way things are they want experiance guys.

It's a tough job market out there now a days. There doesn't appear to be any reasoning to how railroads hire most of it is luck of the draw. Which is evident by other employment threads on this site. Getting that 2 year degree could give you better oppertunities like train dispatcher, yardmaster ect...which is a good thing. There's very few people applying who have previous experience as a conductor if anyone changes railroads it's usually to Amtrak or other passenger service. Good luck.
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Re: Railroad and Dating

Postby Engineer Spike » Fri Jul 09, 2010 2:41 am

I think it is a waste of time to go to choo choo U. I am a second generation railroader. I thought about going to work earlier, when I was having a frustrating semester in college. My uncle graduated from university before railroading. He said stick it out. I might only have one chance to finish school. He reminded me that if I didn't like the railroad, I still have my degree. That is what I have done.
I have seen people on this site imply that all railroaders are dopes, a monkey could do our jobs..... I feel that having an education has helped. I can study for the rules tests easier. I am a union officer. Having debate experience and also good writing skills have helped. Employment law class was useful too.
I know that you were asking about relationships and railroading. I feel that the education should come before railroading. With the economy, you will need to have as many employment options as possible. My company hired dozens in "'06-'08. Most of them are now on the street. This all comes into play if you have a family.
The other posters have echoed most of what I would say about railroad wives. I have a story that might bring home the point. This takes place when I was in engineer school. One of the engineers that I trained with lived near me. We would ride into work together. It happened to be Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve morning, we were marked on a road freight, which was bound to a foreign line. We were about 2/3 of the way to our destination. The dispatcher called to tell us to tie down the train and wait for a cab home. The other line was going to be shut down for the holiday. They would not accept any more inbound trains. The engineer's wife cried tears of joy when we got home. Most railroads treat Christmas like any other day. He had missed so many over the years.
When I met my wife, the same engineer's wife's first words were, "How does she deal with the railroad?"
"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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Re: Railroad and Dating

Postby DutchRailnut » Fri Jul 09, 2010 5:54 am

dmandavid wrote:Im just trying to earn a 2 year degree. That way atleast I have a greater chance of getting selected for testing and interviewed over the guys who have high school degrees. Way things are now im thinking taking a conductor class. I put an few apps into BNSF and NS, they never called me in for testing most likey since the way things are they want experiance guys.


I don't think the lack of call back had to do with experience , but more with Age (maybe) , railroads usually won't hire Operations people unless their around 26 years of age.
If Conductors are in charge, why are they promoted to be Engineer???

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Re: Railroad and Dating

Postby Gadfly » Fri Jul 09, 2010 9:34 am

dmandavid wrote:Im just trying to earn a 2 year degree. That way atleast I have a greater chance of getting selected for testing and interviewed over the guys who have high school degrees. Way things are now im thinking taking a conductor class. I put an few apps into BNSF and NS, they never called me in for testing most likey since the way things are they want experiance guys.


Not to discourage, but I'm not so sure having a college degree will help over the high schoolers when it comes to "conductor" jobs. Conductors, while having a lot of responsibility, aren't really considered "management". Going to "choo choo U" is just another way to transfer $$ from your pocket to some training school. It is a waste of time. It also possible, tho not necessarily a given, they may consider you over-qualified and feel that you will bail for a "white-collar" position after a short time. Oddball shifts, long stints away from home, furloughs, versus an equal-paying, or higher, job with 9-5 and weekends off tempt many people to bail out! So they might not hire you, preferring to hire the blue collar high schooler who is leaving a low-paying job at a parts counter to accept the higher wage and bennies of railroading.

OTH, if you can get into an apprentice or college intern program, not necessarily train service (but not excluding it, either), you may fare better! Contrary to the public view of choo choos around a Christmas tree, there's FAR more to the railroad than trains! Much MORE goes on behind the scenes to support those trains than JUST them thar trains! So many people concentrate on THAT one aspect of railroading that they sometimes miss OUT entirely on a good career WITH the railroad, just not ON trains!

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Re: Railroad and Dating

Postby gp80mac » Fri Jul 09, 2010 1:25 pm

Gadfly wrote:Not to discourage, but I'm not so sure having a college degree will help over the high schoolers when it comes to "conductor" jobs. Conductors, while having a lot of responsibility, aren't really considered "management". Going to "choo choo U" is just another way to transfer $$ from your pocket to some training school. It is a waste of time. It also possible, tho not necessarily a given, they may consider you over-qualified and feel that you will bail for a "white-collar" position after a short time. Oddball shifts, long stints away from home, furloughs, versus an equal-paying, or higher, job with 9-5 and weekends off tempt many people to bail out! So they might not hire you, preferring to hire the blue collar high schooler who is leaving a low-paying job at a parts counter to accept the higher wage and bennies of railroading.

OTH, if you can get into an apprentice or college intern program, not necessarily train service (but not excluding it, either), you may fare better! Contrary to the public view of choo choos around a Christmas tree, there's FAR more to the railroad than trains! Much MORE goes on behind the scenes to support those trains than JUST them thar trains! So many people concentrate on THAT one aspect of railroading that they sometimes miss OUT entirely on a good career WITH the railroad, just not ON trains!

Gadfly


Gadfly


First of all, there's not that many traditional 9-5 jobs hiring lately.

Second, there's nothing wrong with getting a 2 yr degree (As long as it's not one of those ripoff "conductor" schools). In fact, it may help. It shows that you can stick through a program and complete it. It also means you have a small bit of responsibility and maturity. And it probably means you have student loan debt. All good things for getting hired. Last thing the RR wants is some 18 yr old that marks off every weekend to party and quits when the RR becomes demanding.

And it does leave the door open to maybe go into a manager type role. After all, they are retiring at a fast rate, and the carriers know this. Many of the "off the street wonders" just aren't lasting. You'd be surprised how many people in the ranks have college degrees. A lot more than you'd expect.
Yep.....
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Re: Railroad and Dating

Postby COEN77 » Sat Jul 10, 2010 10:52 am

gp80mac wrote:
First of all, there's not that many traditional 9-5 jobs hiring lately.

Second, there's nothing wrong with getting a 2 yr degree (As long as it's not one of those ripoff "conductor" schools). In fact, it may help. It shows that you can stick through a program and complete it. It also means you have a small bit of responsibility and maturity. And it probably means you have student loan debt. All good things for getting hired. Last thing the RR wants is some 18 yr old that marks off every weekend to party and quits when the RR becomes demanding.

And it does leave the door open to maybe go into a manager type role. After all, they are retiring at a fast rate, and the carriers know this. Many of the "off the street wonders" just aren't lasting. You'd be surprised how many people in the ranks have college degrees. A lot more than you'd expect.

I can't think of any 9-5 jobs on the railroad unless it's clerk postions at JAX HQ or someone holds enough seniority to work a 1st shift job. Realistically one can expect to work 2nd & 3rd trick for many years. Management "off the street wonders" bit off more than they can chew. Anyone with some transportation experience can run circles around them while laughing underneath their breath. My last couple of years I reveled in these inexperienced TM's instructing us on how to do our job it made me a lot of money. I was making as much or more on a 5 day yard assignment as I did working the road plenty of OT plus CSX had the engineers yard XB cut so low at least once a week I doubled over on the next shift for 4 hours at a full days pay at time and a half. Gadfly has it right there is more than just conductor positions on the railroad there mostly overlooked.
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