Need Advice for Railroad Emplowment

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

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Need Advice for Railroad Emplowment

Postby rowekmr » Fri Jun 29, 2018 3:58 pm

Hello
I am retiring from my current job with 20 years (at 49). I am looking to start a new career with the railroads. I won't bore you all with how much I love trains and such but I will say I used to drive trucks and operate heavy equipment and would like to work in this transportation industry. I really would like to be an engineer one day but from my research (not a lot on railroad jobs) you have to start at conductor. Some of the companies hiring for conductor don't state pay only that they are on an extra board. The only company that did said 43.50/hour but didn't say how many hours one typically works. Is the pay similar across the different railroad companies whether its per hour or salary or is there a big difference between companies?

How long does one typically work as a conductor before becoming an engineer?

What are typical conductor's duties?

Will being 49 years old (in great shape) be an obstacle for me gaining employment? I do plan to work another 20+ years.

Thanks
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Re: Need Advice for Railroad Emplowment

Postby JCB » Mon Jul 09, 2018 4:30 pm

I don't know how every railroad works when it comes to how long until you become an engineer, but when I went to a Norfolk Southern hiring session for example;they explained that after your training and you're a conductor for 1 year they will come to you a force you to be an engineer. Although they didn't use the word FORCE but might as well have. And you will start at teh bottom again and you must pass the training or lose your job.

I think either UP or BNSF is after 2 years.
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Re: Need Advice for Railroad Emplowment

Postby ACT1FTX » Mon Jul 09, 2018 4:36 pm

rowekmr wrote:Hello
I am retiring from my current job with 20 years (at 49). I am looking to start a new career with the railroads. I won't bore you all with how much I love trains and such but I will say I used to drive trucks and operate heavy equipment and would like to work in this transportation industry. I really would like to be an engineer one day but from my research (not a lot on railroad jobs) you have to start at conductor. Some of the companies hiring for conductor don't state pay only that they are on an extra board. The only company that did said 43.50/hour but didn't say how many hours one typically works. Is the pay similar across the different railroad companies whether its per hour or salary or is there a big difference between companies?

How long does one typically work as a conductor before becoming an engineer?

What are typical conductor's duties?

Will being 49 years old (in great shape) be an obstacle for me gaining employment? I do plan to work another 20+ years.

Thanks


Conductor to Engineer for the Class 1 railroads, depends on how many classes they are running, the location you want , your seniority. Age shouldnt matter I had 50 y/o in my class and a couple guys in there 40's but most were 20's, 30's...Conductors duties??? You better look that up!!
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Re: Need Advice for Railroad Emplowment

Postby Engineer Spike » Mon Jul 09, 2018 7:36 pm

The whole deal about working on the extra board isn’t hard bound. It all depends on the situation where you are going to hire out. If the terminal is short handed already, and there are lots of impending retirements, you could be in a job almost right away. It will likely be a night job, with midweek days off.

I was lucky to have gone straight to a steady night yard job. A month or so later, I was on a passenger job, which worked evenings, and had to work one weekend day, every other weekend. That didn’t last though, since cuts came, and I had to move to another terminal. Still, the next summer I was in engineer school.

You will really have to look hard at engineer school. You may fall into good train service seniority. Engineer seniority may not be so good. You might be stuck in place for years, where your seniority won’t advance. I’m in that place now. You see, the railroads tend to hire in cycles. Right now there are only two baby boomers left. Both are up for retirement. Once they go, my seniority will be stagnant. This is because all the guys just ahead of me are all about my age, and we should all go at about the same time. Luckily I can hold a good job. There is one guy who is in the boomer group, whom I didn’t mention. He hired out at about your age, after a military career. He’s stuck on the engineer extra board, since the two long term boomers, and us Gen. X guys hold all the good jobs.
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Re: Need Advice for Railroad Emplowment

Postby Gadfly » Thu Jul 19, 2018 10:24 pm

rowekmr wrote:Hello
I am retiring from my current job with 20 years (at 49). I am looking to start a new career with the railroads. I won't bore you all with how much I love trains and such but I will say I used to drive trucks and operate heavy equipment and would like to work in this transportation industry. I really would like to be an engineer one day but from my research (not a lot on railroad jobs) you have to start at conductor. Some of the companies hiring for conductor don't state pay only that they are on an extra board. The only company that did said 43.50/hour but didn't say how many hours one typically works. Is the pay similar across the different railroad companies whether its per hour or salary or is there a big difference between companies?

How long does one typically work as a conductor before becoming an engineer?

What are typical conductor's duties?

Will being 49 years old (in great shape) be an obstacle for me gaining employment? I do plan to work another 20+ years.

Thanks

]
A word of advice (or two). Don't go to an interview all a-gush about 'how you luvvvvvvvvv dem trains". If you do that, you can pretty well kiss your railroad job g'bye! Your interviewer will be thinkin', "UH OH, another of them 'foamers'"! If it was like it was when *I* hired out, the HR guys AND the old-line types did not take kindly to rail buffs. Where you might think "liking trains" would be a bonus and 'brownie points" for an eager beaver, it will be just the opposite.
The railroads are after ONE thing: no nonsense, attention to safety, safety, safety, and attention to duty. For them, it is not a "game", nor some romantic adventure. True, its OK to "like" trains, but keep that part to yourself. IOW, like' em in private. Do the job, follow instructions, and work SAFE. Case in point:
Shortly after I was hired, a young boy of about 18 was hired. From the age of 8 or 10 he'd hung around the tracks. Due some influence of local employees, the company did hire him (Southern RR). It was a mistake! While I was at McDonough Training Center, he showed up for Clerk's training and immediately his mind was on.............everything except what he was supposed to learn! The engineer instructor leaned back one day while were downstairs on break, and gestured with his pipe towards this kid going back up the stairs, "That boy'll be dangerous to have on a railroad!"

He marked up on the Clerks Extra Board, Piedmont Division on probation--and was so starry-eyed he frequently disappeared from his duties to go look at trains. He was supposed to be "bookin' cars", but he'd be everywhere BUT where he was supposed to be. Fearing he may be hurt out in the yards, more than once, a search for him was launched, stopping work other clerks were supposed to be doing. He was severely scolded and warned that if he did not settle down and DO the job at hand, he would be let go. He simply could not focus on his work, but was captivated by "choo choos"! Still on probation, he was sent to "cub" the Agent's job in a nearby town. I had caught the job off the Clerk's Extra Board. I could not keep his attention. If a train DID come by, we were required to watch him by for dragging equipment, or hot boxes. I couldn't get him back inside to help me. :(

After that 2 week assignment, I was scheduled for vacation for 2 weeks. When I came back "Billy Boy" *(we'll call him) was GONE. Trainmaster had observed from a distance (a trap?), knew of his inability to remain focused, and FIRED him while I was gone.

Long story I know. But just don't allow your "love" of trains to interfere with doing the job. Railroading is NOT what most outsiders THINK it is, so be prepared & Gud luck!

GF
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Re: Need Advice for Railroad Emplowment

Postby rowekmr » Tue Jul 24, 2018 4:18 pm

Thanks everyone for the info. I haven't heard back from the 2 jobs I applied yet.
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Re: Need Advice for Railroad Emplowment

Postby Engineer Spike » Tue Aug 28, 2018 10:40 pm

One more point is that some class 1 companies do force promotion, while others don’t. I think that some passenger companies put out advertisements for engineer trainees. These jobs are sometimes open to any employee. You could have been a coach cleaner, carman, track worker, or conductor.

The spare board isn’t so bad. I was on it for a long time. Right now I’m thinking of bidding it, if I get bumped off of my job. If things are moving quickly, you can make mountains of cash. The down side is that other times you might not make much, unless there is a guarantee. This is paid if your wages fall below a certain amount. The caveat is that if too much guarantee is being paid out, then the cuts commence.
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Re: Need Advice for Railroad Emplowment

Postby Gadfly » Fri Aug 31, 2018 7:52 pm

Engineer Spike wrote:One more point is that some class 1 companies do force promotion, while others don’t. I think that some passenger companies put out advertisements for engineer trainees. These jobs are sometimes open to any employee. You could have been a coach cleaner, carman, track worker, or conductor.

The spare board isn’t so bad. I was on it for a long time. Right now I’m thinking of bidding it, if I get bumped off of my job. If things are moving quickly, you can make mountains of cash. The down side is that other times you might not make much, unless there is a guarantee. This is paid if your wages fall below a certain amount. The caveat is that if too much guarantee is being paid out, then the cuts commence.


I was on the Extra Board for quite some time. Everybody expects, and dreads, when the 'cut worm' came around, 'cuz jobs were cut off, bulletins were on the board and the "rolls" started. You could expect to be cut off around December of each year--sometimes on Christmas Eve itself. However, when they did that, it seems that all of a sudden they were "short" of help and were asking the furloughs to come and work anyway. So it wasn't as bad as one might think! Sometimes I worked as much, or more, than if I had not been cut! Wazzz up with dat? Often I didn't miss a beat, but kept right on working! And the beauty of it was, so long as you WERE furloughed, you could kind if pick and choose when, if, where, how you wanted to work! You weren't required to be "in place for call" at call time, and you could answer, or ignore the phone, if you didn't want to work 3rd trick, etc! LOL! :-D And you could do that---until a certified letter arrived in the mail ordering you to report to another Yard to work in THAT zoned extra board. So I "got away with that" for awhile. Then the letter finally arrived for me to report to Hayne Yard, Spartanburg, SC at 8 naught one, such 'n such date. And I was back on the board, in place for call, and working mostly 2nd & 3rd trick yard, operator, and crew truck (porter). Took 2 years to get back to Charlotte, NC. :wink:
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