• BNSF Hiring Process

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

Moderator: thebigc

  by RiverMP21
I am scheduled to start my Conductor Trainee class on March 29th with BNSF in St. Louis, MO - can anyone tell me what to expect? I know this is a general question, but I guess I'm looking for general answers!
  by Engineer Spike
The first week you will start by getting your gear ( lantern, switch keys, radio). You will go over some of the basics like how to give motions, or hand signs. You willl learn some of the more basic rules, such as flagging rules. They will also put on an extra switch engine for you to practice making hitches, changing knuckles, etc. Next you will work a switch engine.
after this you will go to K.C. to get your formal rules training. After this, you will go home for more practical training. Here you will learn the lines. You may be requried to get hostler training too. Lastly is the conductor exam. It is multiple choise, and you have two chances to get 90%. If not, you will be looking for a new job.

Let me know if you end up on Frisco or Q territory.
  by NS03

How long does it take for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe to contact you, once
you have already interviewed with them?

Would it be by snail mail or electronic mail these days?


  by RiverMP21
I was contacted via email within 4 days of the interview

Spike, thank you very much for the info... I was told at the interview session, however, that the training was going to be done in St. Louis and not in KC. We'll see...


  by taer87
  by splitswitch
I will break it down for you fellows. Week one is classroom work covering mostly safety rules, hand signals, radio procedure and certain characteristics of your subdivision. Weeks two, three and four are all field work, either on the road with a conductor or in the yard with a switch crew. Your first few weeks in the yard will be overwhelming trying to learn what switch to throw when and then figure out what track you are in. It is a very large puzzle with very large pieces. Don't sweat it though, switching is an art that will come to you in time. Weeks five, six, and seven are classroom work. These weeks you will take a hazmat test (no pass/no fail) and a hostler test. The hostler test is only 60 questions, but you must pass with a 90% or better. This portion of training is taught by a rules teacher from Kansas City who will bring you in tune with your rule book or railroad bible.....The GCOR. It is so damn big it has it's own breifcase to carry it in. The remainder of these weeks is filled with homework. YES homework, and a lot of it. By the time you are done with class, you will think you just took a bar exam to become a lawyer. Weeks eight through fourteen are once again field work. This is the time to really pay attention and learn the yard and industries you switch in. No matter how much you hate it, LEARN TO SWITCH. Even if you do not plan to stay where you hired out, learn the yard and learn to switch, because that is where you, as a new hire with no seniority, will spend alot of your working time. The yard is a dangerous place, so pay attention and learn from the guys you will be working with, because in a few short weeks, you will be a promoted, marked-up conductor making the moves you were taught to do just a short time ago. Last but not least..... week fifteen..... All classroom review, usually mon. tues. wed. and test on thurs. The review and test is again handled by a rules teacher from Kansas City. The final promotion exam is 280 multiple choice questions and must be passed with a 90% or better. The End. You are now a promoted conductor on the BNSF Railway. This is a basic rundown of the training program. Some training coordinators may stray from this a bit, but it is still the same stuff. Also, some subdivisions now include two weeks of Remote Control Operator training into the conductor training program. It is no big deal, just one more test you will have to pass with a 90% or better. The only real advice I can provide is as follows.... Have an open mind, a sense of humor and always know where you're at. The railroad is like nothing you have ever done in your life. It is not a career change but a life change. It is real easy to grow complacent walking a cut of cars, looking at your list, not paying attention to the fact that you are walking between the rails of five track and your helper just kicked two loaded hoppers down five rail. Always know where you're at. It is hard to get hit if you are in the clear. Pay attention in class, apply the rules you learn and be safe. Good luck in the field many of us have chosen.
  by foundsheep
Do you have to hang on to a boxcar for 5 minutes and stuff like that?
  by RiverMP21
foundsheep wrote:Do you have to hang on to a boxcar for 5 minutes and stuff like that?
  by foundsheep
UP made us do that.

  by KarlJ
Last edited by KarlJ on Mon Apr 04, 2005 10:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

  by RiverMP21
Just an update :

Wow, it's amazing how much time has passed, and experience gained since my first post in March. Week 15 of training starts on Monday, and it's all classroom review time for the Conductor Promotion Test on Friday July 9th. For anyone who is interested, here is a recap (as best as I can remember) of my training so far (for the OTJ training, I have included the jobs I personally worked):

Week 1 : Orientation and basic switching skills, hand signals, kicking cars
Week 2 : Classroom Rules training
Week 3 : OTJ - Bullringer (yard Utility man)
Week 4 : OTJ - SPR4451, "The Conrail" - roadswitcher to Chrysler
Week 5 : OTJ - STL1171, "The Madison Turn" - transfer run to TRRA
Week 6 : OTJ - SPR8161, "Cuba Local"
Week 7 : OTJ - North St. Louis yard job
Week 8 : Classroom Rules training
Week 9 : OTJ - Cuba Subdivision road pools (STL-Springfield)
Week 10 : OTJ - Cuba Sub road pools (STL-Springfield)
Week 11 : OTJ - "The Howards Job" - STL industry job
Week 12 : OTJ - Split between Lindenwood Yard job & The Conrail
Week 13 : RCO/Hostler training and RCO/Hostler test
Week 14 : OTJ - RCO Midnight Yard Office job
Week 15 : Rules review & Conductor Promotion Test

  by RiverMP21
Okay, final update as my training is otherwise complete...

Took the 280-question Promotion Exam on Friday... 15 questions open-book regarding the System Special Instructions, and 265 questions closed-book on GCOR, ABTH, and Safety Rules.

The results were fairly good! Took 90 minutes to take the test, scored a 99% (3 incorrect).

So now, a few more weeks of hostler and RCO training to get my cards, and then time to mark up!
  by LCJ
Good job, Michael.

Remember to stay safe out there, now.

  by freshmeat

Where do you think you'll be able to mark up? They hired 18 people for 3 jobs in Ark City. I've been looking at Lincoln, NE and Galesburg, IL.

good luck,

Terry Smith

  by RiverMP21
Marking up in St. Louis - we've got some retirements coming, so I should have work for the time being
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