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Working on the Railroad.


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#1 Nxr

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 05:48 PM

I know a very out of topic question but i find these forums have very interesting people from all aspects of life, so i am wondering how many of you guys work in the railroad industry as a conductor switcher etc, i am looking to get into either CSX or Norfolk Southern and wanted to ask if anybody here had a long term experience in these fields and what you guys have to say, what to avoid and what not and how to keep a steady a job in this field. Thank you in advance.



#2 Sixx

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 02:55 AM

Oh boy!! LOL!!!  I've worked for Metra R.R. for over 22 yrs. first in the track dept. then the B&B (bridges & buildings) Have worked all over the Chicago-land area. Go for the two areas that you said, you'll get better pay!! Couple of points here...BE ON TIME, EVERY TIME!!! Keep a clean safety record, in other words, work safely!! If ya do that and do what the supervisors tell ya,( in a safe manner ) you''ll be good. Not too sure how freight R.R.'s do their deal, but can't be much different than commuter rails. I never worked as a conductor or switch tender, but kinda sortof did some of that while in the track dept.  Good luck to ya, and from what I've been told by some " old-heads " retirement from a R.R. is pretty good. I'm far from it!!  LOL!!!  :blink: ;)



#3 Nxr

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 04:15 AM

Thank you for your response! That is very interesting and yes i do keep a clean record haha never any driving accidents and clean police record, never ever got into a fight!



#4 Joe Handley

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 06:51 PM

Oh boy!! LOL!!!  I've worked for Metra R.R. for over 22 yrs. first in the track dept. then the B&B (bridges & buildings) Have worked all over the Chicago-land area. Go for the two areas that you said, you'll get better pay!! Couple of points here...BE ON TIME, EVERY TIME!!! Keep a clean safety record, in other words, work safely!! If ya do that and do what the supervisors tell ya,( in a safe manner ) you''ll be good. Not too sure how freight R.R.'s do their deal, but can't be much different than commuter rails. I never worked as a conductor or switch tender, but kinda sortof did some of that while in the track dept.  Good luck to ya, and from what I've been told by some " old-heads " retirement from a R.R. is pretty good. I'm far from it!!  LOL!!!  :blink: ;)

 

Dad is retired, he worked for the C&NW and the EJ&E, the retirement is very nice!



#5 CJ1971

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 09:10 PM

I'd like to help you out but the Railway I work for, ( since I was 16yo ), for the last 26yrs, is down here in Sydney, Australia... State Rail Authority of NSW. Owned & run by the State G'ment. I work as a train guard on the passenger trains & not in freight etc.
cheers Cliff

#6 gtx6970

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Posted 27 April 2013 - 03:18 AM

My dad started with Southern Railway, which became Norfolk/Southern which became CSX ( at least thats the name changes progression I remember)

He retired 9-10 years. Started out asa brakeman, worked his way up to Conductor then finally to Enginer. Listening to my Dad over the years , I would have to say it's a life style that wears on you. And it's a very thankless job.

 

As a kid who grew up with it, I would have to say if you have kids,,,,, IMO avoid being on the road. It keeps you away from family way to much . It was rare my dad was home for holidays especially  Christmas , if he was he usually just got home the morning of or went out during  the day .  Birthdays were the same. Especially in the early years. Later on it's wasn't so bad because he finally got on a  regular gig . But by then me and my 4 brothers and 1 youngest sister were past childhood. Looking back I would have liked having my Dad there Christmas morning and my burthday ,,,,, every year .

 

No idea what being a switch yard worker is like .



#7 Modlbldr

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Posted 27 April 2013 - 10:47 AM

I worked for the Alaska Railroad as a Conductor/brakeman and an Engineer for 11 years (96-2007). My advice is if you are single and plan to stay that way it can be a great job with a lot of variety. If you are married and/or have children I would think SERIOUSLY about another career. Money and work are not everything. It is not worth seperating yourself from your family. My wife and daughter are very independent, which either helped, or was caused by, my choice.
The RR I worked for required long hours of either hard work(which I was not afraid of) or monotony. Due to your lack of seniority you will be subject to work all shifts (day, night, holidays, etc), be on call(which means little social life), and usually work the worst jobs.
I don't mean to make it sound like a horrible job, because it was a good job with lots of excitement and fun. I just think you should be fully aware of what the costs will be.
As far as safety goes, it is of the utmost importance. It sounds cliche, but lives are at stake. You can be as safe as you can be, but your coworker makes one mistake and the whole crew is at fault. And it is not just your crew you have to worry about. It is also everyone else. In the 11 years I worked some of the more scarry incidents we had happen there were from civilians causing the accidents.
There are many other good/bad points I could share with you. If you want more info, PM me for my phone #. I'd be happy to talk.
Again, it can be a great way of life but it is a HUGE sacrifice.

Later-

Edited by Modlbldr, 27 April 2013 - 10:48 AM.


#8 Nxr

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Posted 27 April 2013 - 06:09 PM

single and never married and never dated any girl :( ready for the sacrifice, and thank you guys for the replies means a lot.

#9 DrKerry

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Posted 27 April 2013 - 06:20 PM

single and never married and never dated any girl :( ready for the sacrifice, and thank you guys for the replies means a lot.

You lucky lucky man!!!!!! LOL :D



#10 DPNM

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Posted 28 April 2013 - 04:33 AM

I did not work for the railroad but I had a job that did do work for them. This railroad moved freight. Modlbldr is spot on. When you are first hired, and that would be as a Conductor, you will be sent for training. 6 weeks I believe. Once that is completed you will be assigned to the yard you will work out of. New hires are put with seasoned Conductors to learn the job and improve their skills up to the time they are tested.

 

When you pass your test it will be time to "Mark Up". The place I worked at had a "regular" board and an "extra" board. Chances are you will be placed on the extra board. That means that you will be "on Call" and can get called at ANY time. I am fairly certain you can be no longer than 1 hour away but it may be an hour and a half max. Kind of hard to make any plans.

 

I had a Conductor once tell me he grossed $1800 one week (why he felt the need to tell me is beyond me, I was only earning a small portion of that). Sounds like great pay, right? He was on the road for the whole week.

 

I do not know if the RR you are looking at moves freight or passengers, my guess is freight as that is typical of the NS and CSX in this area. BTW: they are 2 separate railroads, Conrail was merged into NS but CSX is it's own company. In this area they are separated on either side of the river(s).

 

One thing to bear in mind, at least in this area. With the new governmant regulations regarding the use of coal many mines are shutting down in this area as it would cost them too much to become "compliant". This has REALLY hurt the industry in this area. Probably 90 percent of the freight moved in this area was coal. Hence, the company has/had way more workers than work. I do not work there now but I have since talked to RR friends that I made who have told me. If your area is the same you may not get many hours. Just something to bear in mind.

 

While I was there they seemed to be doing a lot of "Spying", supervisors looking for people not doing their job SAFELY so they can "let them go".

 

You may want to find out what materials the railroad you plan to work at moves. If you know anyone that works there ask them for a heads up.

 

 It can be a rewarding ($) career but as mentioned, you will need to sacrifice most of your life.

 

SAFETY is key. I was told you stand a better chance to get hired if you mention the word a lot in the interview process. Make sure you follow through if you get the job.

 

I hope this helps.  Good Luck!!!



#11 lordairgtar

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Posted 28 April 2013 - 07:10 AM

Just a bit of humor for the rail workers. My dad worked for the Milwaukee Road and later The Soo Line and a very small bit for a Canadian rr that bought them. He then retired.

 

 

I'm not allowed to run the train
The whistle I can't blow…
I'm not allowed to say how far
The railroad cars can go.
I'm not allowed to shoot off steam,
Nor even clang the bell…
But let the darned train jump the track
And see who catches Hell!


Edited by lordairgtar, 28 April 2013 - 07:10 AM.


#12 Joe Handley

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Posted 28 April 2013 - 12:03 PM

Just a bit of humor for the rail workers. My dad worked for the Milwaukee Road and later The Soo Line and a very small bit for a Canadian rr that bought them. He then retired.

 

 

I'm not allowed to run the train
The whistle I can't blow…
I'm not allowed to say how far
The railroad cars can go.
I'm not allowed to shoot off steam,
Nor even clang the bell…
But let the darned train jump the track
And see who catches Hell!

 

 

LOL, Dad was mostly in Maintenance of Way in most of his years in the industry, and that's about right..........Come to think of it, I think we still have that sign around here somewhere too :lol:



#13 Nxr

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Posted 28 April 2013 - 12:36 PM

thank you all again for all the replies very good info so far, I'm pretty much ready to dedicate my whole life to a career like this at this point of my life, very close to turning 24 gotta get on a better path than assembling grills and out door kitchen orders in home depot...

#14 Blackwolf

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 02:58 AM

Well when I was able to work my last job was driving and I would go to the different railroad yards and get containers that came in on the trains and I would take them to the local business. I have to admit it I would rather be out working and driving everyday then to sit on my rear and watch other driving down the roads.,



#15 Modlbldr

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Posted 04 May 2013 - 08:41 AM

DPNM is also correct with the info he gave. SAFETY is #1.....and #2....and #3.....You get the idea. The supervisors are expected to "spy", like it or not. I was told once by a Conductor from BNSF that the company spent all this time and money to hire ones and then spent the rest of that one's career trying to fire them.

Nxr- I believe you sent me your #. When I get some time this weekend I will get a hold of you. Either that or you can call me at (509)385-1665.
I can't stress enough that it can be an exciting but stressful and challenging career.

Later-

Edited by Modlbldr, 04 May 2013 - 08:42 AM.


#16 charlie8575

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Posted 14 May 2013 - 09:09 PM

As to dating, Eugene, don't worry, it'll come sooner or later. It took me a while, too.

 

As to career....I was saying the same thing at 24. While direction is important, don't give up the rest of your life over it. I would suggest perhaps seeing if you can start off with the MTA, NJ Transit, LIRR, or something like that. That might allow you to have a better balance.

 

In the meantime, concentrate on things like education- and not necessarily from school, be a self-prompted learner, and of course, find a way to support yourself well.

 

If you do leave Home Depot...one of my closest friends lives in Red Hook and is in need of some extra work, so you might even be able to fill your own job.

 

Charlie Larkin