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Becoming A Railroad Engineer  
User currently offlineQXRamperMEII From United States of America, joined Aug 2006, 93 posts, RR: 1
Posted (6 years 10 months 1 week 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 4033 times:

Completely whacky topic, but something I've always wanted to know. How does one become a railroad engineer? I see frieght trains all the time, and wonder how a person gets to be a driver of such things?

I think of it in terms of becoming a pilot. Is there a "Private vs Commercial difference"; are railroad jobs senioirty-based? How long does such training take, and what is it like?

Anyone out here with railroad experience, let me know. I've been wondering for a while. Thanks to all!

8 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineOly720man From United Kingdom, joined May 2004, 6607 posts, RR: 11
Reply 1, posted (6 years 10 months 1 week 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 4018 times:

http://www.ble.org/info/engineer.asp

seems to cover it.



wheat and dairy can screw up your brain
User currently offlineCornish From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2005, 8187 posts, RR: 54
Reply 2, posted (6 years 10 months 1 week 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 4018 times:

Quoting QXRamperMEII (Thread starter):
Completely whacky topic, but something I've always wanted to know. How does one become a railroad engineer? I see frieght trains all the time, and wonder how a person gets to be a driver of such things?

you need to speak to EWS here on A.net. He drives those things for a living.



Just when I thought I could see light at the end of the tunnel, it was some B*****d with a torch bringing me more work
User currently offlineHelvknight From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (6 years 10 months 1 week 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 3991 times:

Quoting Cornish (Reply 2):
you need to speak to EWS here on A.net. He drives those things for a living.

AsstChiefMark also knows quite a bit about US railroads but he is otherwise engaged at the moment. Maybe ask him when he gets back.


User currently offlineBohica From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 2630 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (6 years 10 months 1 week 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 3981 times:

You start as a cunductor. Here is the job description from Norfolk Southern Railroad (from the NS website):

Conductor Trainees operate track switches, couple cars and work on freight trains in yard operations and on the road with heavy travel. You must be able to lift 80 lbs., as required when replacing knuckles that connect rail cars. This involves strenuous, outside work in all weather conditions and requires extensive travel. The conductor trainee operates track switches by moving a lever that moves sections of track to properly place railcars, couples cars, and works assembling freight trains in rail yard operations performing various duties involving moving and aligning various parts of rail equipment to create or build trains. You must be able to perform several tasks safely that will require pulling, controlling and maneuvering onto and off of equipment. We test hair for illegal drug use in the last 90 days. If you are unable to provide a hair sample from the head, arms, chest or legs we will treat that failure as a refusal which will result in the rejection of the application for employment.

To see what it's like to be a conductor at Norfolk Southern copy and paste the following link in your browser. http://www.nscorp.com/nscorphtml/video/Conductor_prehire.wmv

Training: Will consist of sufficient class and field training to enable the freight service trainee to become a qualified Conductor/Trainman. Field experience will include training with yard, local, and through freight crews. At the conclusion of the training and successful completion of the required written exams, the employee will be a qualified conductor.

Probationary Period: Applications for employment may be rejected within sixty (60) calendar days after an employee establishes a seniority date. Employees establish a seniority date on the date they first perform compensated service after the initial training.

Advancement: Presently conductor trainees are required to accept mandatory promotion to locomotive engineer and attend Locomotive Engineer Training. This can occur at any point after 1 year of train service experience. This training entails 3 to 4 weeks of training at our McDonough, GA, training facility and sufficient field training to become a qualified locomotive engineer, generally lasting 8 to 12 months.

Hours: Employees are required to work on-call, on an as needed basis, from an extra board. Employees are expected to be available to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in all weather conditions. Work schedules are irregular and are determined by the rotation of the extra board. Employees must have a telephone in order to be contacted for work. Most employees purchase a pager or cellular phone to be called for work.

Employees in train service are subject to extensive travel requirements for the job and must be able to be away from home on a constant basis, depending upon the needs of the extra board. Employees normally will have 1.5 hours from the time of call to report to work. Extra board employees can expect to work mostly nights, weekends, and holidays. Employees are not guaranteed a forty-hour work week, but are paid for the time spent performing train service. Mandatory rest periods under the Hours of Service Act are required. New hires work from the extra board until they acquire sufficient seniority to be awarded a regularly scheduled position.

Union Membership: All employees will be required to join either the train service union or engineer's union within 60 days of establishing a seniority date. The union requires monthly membership dues of all members. Failure to comply with any policies as outlined in the Agreement between the carrier and the union may result in termination of employment.

Alcohol And Drug Policy: Employees in Train and Engine Service are subject to random alcohol and drug testing as per the Federal Railroad Administration Guidelines. The Norfolk Southern Policy is Zero Tolerance.

Rates of Pay: The information below reflects the rates of pay presently in effect (subject to change):

Training: Trainees start in a training program at the Norfolk Southern corporate training facility at McDonough, GA, 35 miles south of Atlanta on I-75. NS will pay mileage costs at the current rate per mile for a round-trip for those driving personal vehicles. Often, new hires from the same location arrange to carpool to McDonough; only the driver is reimbursed for mileage. While in McDonough, NS provides a room at a local hotel and provides meal coupons to be used at local restaurants. McDonough is a mix of classroom and field instruction.

Phases 2 and 4 are back on the hiring division. Trainees are placed with conductors and engineers to learn the duties and safe operations of train service.

Phase
Length
Location
Pay Rate

Phase 1
8 days
McDonough, GA
$100 per day

Phase 2
4 weeks
Division
$500 per week

Phase 3
2 weeks
McDonough, GA
$500 per week

Phase 4
8-16 weeks
Division
$500 per week

Entry Rates: After establishing seniority, train and engine service employees are subject to a 5-year rate progression, after which they will receive full rates. The rate progression is as outlined:

1st year
80% of full rate in class of service working

2nd year
80% of full rate in class of service working

3rd year
85% of full rate in class of service working

4th year
90% of full rate in class of service working

5th year
95% of full rate in class of service working

To progress to the next highest level in each step, employees must perform service a minimum of eighty (80) days during the preceding calendar period of 365 days.

BASIC DAY FULL (100%) HOURLY RATES OF PAY:

Conductor to Engineer

Yard Service
$175.78 per day to $191.56 per day

Through Freight Service
$157.22 per day to $181.83 per day

Local Freight Service
$157.58 per day to $182.39 per day

First year pay, after training period, will be 80% of these full rates and will progress as detailed above. Rates effective July 1, 2003.

We are proud to be an EEO/AA employer M/F/D/V. We maintain a drug-free workplace and perform pre-employment substance abuse testing. We test hair for illegal drugs as part of our pre-employment medical evaluation. Hair testing can reveal any drug use in the last 90 days. If you are unable to provide a hair sample from the head, arms, chest, or legs we will treat that failure as a refusal which will result in rejection of the application for employment.


User currently offlineEWS From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (6 years 10 months 1 week 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 3947 times:

Quoting Cornish (Reply 2):
you need to speak to EWS here on A.net. He drives those things for a living.

Not anymore, i had to finish a few months back due to ill health. Things are progressing now and are on the up.. but I'm not sure if railways is a option anymore.

However, if you need any advice e.t.c. on things you need to know, add me to msn and ill be happy to chat.. ews(at)airliners.net

Lew


User currently offlineAA787823 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (6 years 10 months 1 week 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 3934 times:

A friend of mine just got his engineer job. He is with Union Pacific. He started as a conductor, and as seniroity allowed he became a Firman in Training (hey thats their term.) and eventually got an engineer slot. The pay as an engineer is VERY GOOD, he makes on average $12,000.00 usd per month. (Too bad he spends about $14,000.00 per month). But I would check with the web site for the RR that serves your area and see what they offer. I doubt they would hire an engineer off the street, especially if that RR is a Union House.

User currently offline57AZ From United States of America, joined Nov 2004, 2550 posts, RR: 2
Reply 7, posted (6 years 10 months 1 week 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 3916 times:

Don't discount some of the smaller "regional" railroads such as Guilford, Columbus and Greenville, Kyle, etc. If you know someone with such a road, you'll probably have an easier time getting on board. Sure the pay won't be the same as UP, NS, BNSF etc. but you might find it good enough and the hours more regular. Also, I figure that the Class Ones would prefer to select a candidate that already has their engineer's license, regardless of where it was obtained. That might shorten your time in getting to run, but you'd certainly spend some time "thinking with your feet" as a brakey or conductor. With the realignment of job duties and technology, being a conductor isn't what it used to be unless you're in passenger service. In passenger service, the conductor is still captain of the ship but that's no more with freights.


"When a man runs on railroads over half of his lifetime he is fit for nothing else-and at times he don't know that."
User currently offlineSrbmod From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (6 years 10 months 1 week 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 3882 times:

Quoting Bohica (Reply 4):

What NS fails to mention on their site is that they make you take one of those employment personality tests. About 5 years back I went to one of their open houses for Conductors and that was pretty much what sunk me getting the job. I think these types of tests are really an effective way to screen candidates, as many folks try to answer those questions the way they think the potential employer would want them to answer.

Some railroads, like CSX, actually make potential conductors pay for out of their own pockets, a 5 week training program conducted by either a private career training company (like AMDG Inc.) or a college or university using curriculum developed by the railroad itself. These programs don't guarantee you'll get on with a railroad, but guarantee an interview with them. This is very similar to the way many of these truck driving/CDL schools are. This course costs somewhere around $6000 if you include food and lodging if the location of the program is not where you live. Then if they choose to hire you, then you get sent to where the railroad's training center is.


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