What is a typical work day for a freight conductor?

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What is a typical work day for a freight conductor?

Postby Qmoney1986 » Tue Feb 10, 2015 7:45 am

Interested to know what does a normal day of work consist of, and is there any down time?
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Re: What is a typical work day for a freight conductor?

Postby mmi16 » Thu Feb 12, 2015 4:41 pm

Road or Yard?
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Re: What is a typical work day for a freight conductor?

Postby GE45tonner » Thu Feb 12, 2015 5:28 pm

Road work - point to point train. On call, will run whenever is needed. Some runs will last 12 hours, when you'll stop your train, and wait for a cab to pick you up. 8 hours rest then you can be called up again.

Yard work - Typically in shifts. 8 hours. there's usually always a shift going on so there's a good chance you'll be working in the night. Sometimes if the yard is busy you may go on overtime. You'll stay in one yard the whole tour of duty.

Local work is when a train leaves the yard to serve customers along the main, then comes back to the yard. These runs are similar to road jobs except you usually end up back where you started.

Low seniority conductors will start on the extra board (also called a spare board or extra list) and rotate. After being called into duty you are sent to the botton of the list. You'll be called again when you make it too the top. A conductor can then get enough seniority to hold down a regular job, whether it be a yard job, road job, or local. Then you have a relative idea of when you will work every day. However if someone with more seniority wants your job they can bump you off that assignment and you'll have to bid another job or go back to the spare board.

Road jobs are sometimes held in pools on some railroads. Not sure about CSX. A pool of engineers and conductors will rotate through a specific assignment.

So there is no typical work day. Sometimes you'll start at 0100 hours and work until 1300 hours and be held up in a hotel for over a day. Other days you can get called in at 0800 hours and only work until 1600 hours and go back home and sleep in your own bed. You'll work Christmas and miss birthdays. It's a good job and the pay can be great but you will have a completely different lifestyle than everyone else.
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Re: What is a typical work day for a freight conductor?

Postby Qmoney1986 » Thu Feb 12, 2015 9:44 pm

Thank you so much for the response. So, is it impossible to be a new conductor and land a yard job, because your terminal is so busy? And I'm guessing since I may be on the extra board, I may not work everyday. But will I still be paid Full time?
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Re: What is a typical work day for a freight conductor?

Postby mmi16 » Fri Feb 13, 2015 9:19 pm

GE45tonner wrote:Road work - point to point train. On call, will run whenever is needed. Some runs will last 12 hours, when you'll stop your train, and wait for a cab to pick you up. 8 hours rest then you can be called up again.



The Hours of Service Law presently requires 10 hour uninterrupted rest - person can be called AFTER 10 hours rest to report in another 2 hours. Individuals can call the company to see if they can report for an assignment on the 10 hours uninterrupted time. There is no more 8 hour rest provision.
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Re: What is a typical work day for a freight conductor?

Postby TotalLamer » Sat Feb 14, 2015 3:54 pm

GE45tonner wrote:Road work - point to point train. On call, will run whenever is needed. Some runs will last 12 hours, when you'll stop your train, and wait for a cab to pick you up. 8 hours rest then you can be called up again.

Yard work - Typically in shifts. 8 hours. there's usually always a shift going on so there's a good chance you'll be working in the night. Sometimes if the yard is busy you may go on overtime. You'll stay in one yard the whole tour of duty.

Local work is when a train leaves the yard to serve customers along the main, then comes back to the yard. These runs are similar to road jobs except you usually end up back where you started.

Low seniority conductors will start on the extra board (also called a spare board or extra list) and rotate. After being called into duty you are sent to the botton of the list. You'll be called again when you make it too the top. A conductor can then get enough seniority to hold down a regular job, whether it be a yard job, road job, or local. Then you have a relative idea of when you will work every day. However if someone with more seniority wants your job they can bump you off that assignment and you'll have to bid another job or go back to the spare board.

Road jobs are sometimes held in pools on some railroads. Not sure about CSX. A pool of engineers and conductors will rotate through a specific assignment.

So there is no typical work day. Sometimes you'll start at 0100 hours and work until 1300 hours and be held up in a hotel for over a day. Other days you can get called in at 0800 hours and only work until 1600 hours and go back home and sleep in your own bed. You'll work Christmas and miss birthdays. It's a good job and the pay can be great but you will have a completely different lifestyle than everyone else.


Not necessarily all entirely true. As pointed out, you can't be called in 8 hours. 10 for 12 is minimum. Also plenty of yard jobs work industries, whether on yardmaster controlled track or down the main. At the terminal I hired out at there was a 3rd shift yard job that worked industries as far as 7 miles down the main from the yard. Also you won't necessarily always start on the extra board. It depends on which terminal you hire out at. Sometimes there are particularly obnoxious "show up" (scheduled) jobs on bad shifts that new guys work because no one else wants them. Then of course CSX has separate road (Brakeman's) and yard (Switchman's) boards. With the road board guaranteeing a pretty hefty $2800/half or so while the yard board guarantees only like $1700/half. At the terminal where I work now, Brakeman's Board conductors often make more than Freight Pool conductors! But the Freight Pool is a bit cushier because you always know where you're going when you get called AND it's 6 on, 2 off. Some terminals have Freight Pools with NO off days though. It all depends on local agreements. How jobs fall on the seniority scale depends on so many factors from one terminal to another it's hard to say.
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Re: What is a typical work day for a freight conductor?

Postby GE45tonner » Sat Feb 14, 2015 6:26 pm

Sorry, 8 was a typo, not sure what I was thinking. I meant to put 10. :P My post is not entirely accurate because the railroad is such a varied industry. Local agreements, different railroads, specific terminal, management, all can change. But it's still the general idea of how everything works. Crew management is going to be different in California from Georgia. My point being in the original post is that there really isn't a typical work day in the industry, and my point was obviously proven by how many differences there can be found in even the most general description of how things work on a railroad. lol.
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Re: What is a typical work day for a freight conductor?

Postby Marnos » Mon Aug 31, 2015 1:00 pm

Is there a limit to the total number of hours you can work in a seven day period ? IE, say you have worked a total of 70 hours in the last 7 days, are you allowed to work on day 8 or would you then have to sit for 24 hours before being allowed to work again ?

Is there any way of extending that 12 hour period by say logging wait time while awaiting clearance to take off ?
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Re: What is a typical work day for a freight conductor?

Postby waldwickrailfan » Tue Sep 01, 2015 1:05 am

Marnos wrote:Is there a limit to the total number of hours you can work in a seven day period ? IE, say you have worked a total of 70 hours in the last 7 days, are you allowed to work on day 8 or would you then have to sit for 24 hours before being allowed to work again ?

Is there any way of extending that 12 hour period by say logging wait time while awaiting clearance to take off ?


12 hours is from the time you get picked up out of the hotel until 12 hours after that. If you are on the road, the dispatcher has the time you got picked up from the hotel, (ie: 7:55am) then 12 hours later (7:55pm) you legally park your train and wait for the crew van to show up and bring u back to the hotel. Once that 12 hours limit is up, you cannot work more. Doesnt matter if you are sitting in a siding for 9 hours waiting, you will still get paid for it, and it still counts towards time working. Also, if you are on a UPS train and fly to the next crew change point in say 3 hours, you will clock out when the crew van brings you to the hotel, and then the clock starts again for 12 hours until you can get called again to work. So, you could work upwards of 80 hours a week if they need you.
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Re: What is a typical work day for a freight conductor?

Postby 10more years » Tue Sep 15, 2015 6:25 pm

The 12 hour work day starts at the time you report to work, your on-duty time. The maximum that you can stay on-duty is 12 hours. The mandatory rest time is 12 hours. If you are on-duty more than 12 hours, you cannot perform service during the extra time on-duty and the extra time is added to your mandatory rest time. Example: you are called to work with on-duty time of 2:00 am. Your train does not make it to its destination and you stop at 2:00 pm and wait for a taxi, or transport to your destination. Your taxi arrives at 2:30 pm and takes you to the terminal where you arrive at 3:00 pm. You must have your train secured by 2:00 pm. Your rest starts at 3:00 pm and you cannot go back on-duty until 4:00 am. You are under pay from 2:00 am until 3:00 pm. But, there may or may be overtime involved (depends on mileage of the job).

A typical work day depends on the kind of service you are working. A yard job is typically given a list of tracks to switch in the yard at the discretion of a yardmaster. While there may be down time, there also may not be a lot or any. Every terminal is different. And, its on your feet type of work, walking on ballast (rocks), in all types of weather (common sense applies and most railroad folks are laughing at that).
Locals and switchers work industries away from the terminal. Work loads vary and there is down time riding from one industry to others. Freight pool and ID service may do some intermediate work, but also may just carry freight from one terminal to another over a difference of anywhere from 100 miles to 350 miles. Those are not specific limits, just an idea.

Schedules are erratic, which is why if a junior man can work a job with a decent schedule, the reason is that senior men do not want to work that assignment for some reason; pay, off days, shift, work load, trainmaster, location, other crew members.
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Re: What is a typical work day for a freight conductor?

Postby Noel Weaver » Tue Sep 15, 2015 7:01 pm

You need to remember that what applies on one railroad may well not apply on another railroad. While all T & E folks are under the Federal Hours of Service Law union agreements or even in some cases terminal or local agreement will often differ from property to property or even from terminal to terminal. You need to be specific when asking questions of this nature or you will not get a correct answer.
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