A Question For Past & Present Railroad Workers

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by Cannonball, Jun 12, 2007.

  1. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

    For some time now I have not been happy in my present job. Truthfully, it bores me to tears. I've been checking the papers and our local job center frequently trying to find something else but pickings have been slim. The best job I've come up with so far is almost $2.00 less an hour than I make now and would have me right back into the same line of work.

    So now I'm starting to wonder about finding something in the railroad industry. I'd really like to see what it's like to be a conductor but I have no idea how to go about it. Where would I start? Do I need special schooling for this or wold I be trained by the railroad? Also, is 38 a bit too late to be considering a career in railraoding?

    Your input on this would be appreciated.
  2. KATY

    KATY Member

  3. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

    Thanks for the links.
    BNSF seems to be the most vague as far as what they require which is sad because they are the ones I'd really like to work for.
    KCS has some interesting opportunities but most of them would involve relocating.
    UP lays it on the line and at least tells you where you'll start out and where you can end up.
  4. MadHatter

    MadHatter Charging at full tilt.

    Cannonball, if you can stand the long hours and the distance away from home then you'd be right at home (sorry for the pun) working for the railways. I'd say that it's not as bad- if you can look at it that way- as it used to be, but it is still quite taxing on a family life.

    But, I've spoken to many railway people and grown up around them- I myself am applying to be a train driver on our new high speed Gautrain- It would be a wonderful job from what I've seen, heard and experienced- another family if you will.
  5. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

    This is the biggest part of my concern. It would be rough leaving my wife and daughter home alone for 2 or 3 weeks at a time and then only be home with them a day or two before I'm gone again.

    However, my wife made the comment the other night that she would rather see me happy than to keep being miserable in my current job. I just don't know if I would be happy being away from them.

    Also, being a musician, I would have about zero opportunity to be in another band until I retired in 20-25 years. Of course, I'm not in a band now so I don't know if that's either here nor there.
  6. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    Cannonball: There was an article in our local paper here in MT about the problem that MRL is having getting help and the fact that their workforce is aging. Montana currently has a 2.2 percent unemployment rate. According to the article, the biggest problem with getting people to apply is the working hours and time away from home. My son-in-law works a section gang in the winter and the track gang in the summer and fall. No pick and shovel work, no spike mauls, just mechanized, computerized machinery. He makes around 17.50 an hour.
    You might take a look at MRL's website.
  7. railohio

    railohio Active Member

    You won't be gone weeks at a time. Working on the road you'd be away and home alternating nights. You won't get to see them, though, since you'll probably only be home eight to ten hours before working again if your board or pool turns quickly. The alternative is working once every three days or even less if a board turns slowly. The one constant in railroading is that it's unpredictable, some months you can be gone every other night making fists of money and some you could not work at all. Some days you'll go to work in the morning, some in the afternoon, and some in the dead of night. You might work eight "days" in a week if you get called quick enough and that might go on for months without a day off. There's no set schedule and no guarantee on anything.

    Working in the yard or on a local you'd be home every night, but not making as much money. There's always the chance you'll get bumped back out of the yard job by someone with higher seniority, too. Railroaders have to balance a family life with their careers. (Yes, it's a career, not just a job.) Some guys can make it work on the income from working the yard and others like to be on the road to make the extra money.

  8. MadHatter

    MadHatter Charging at full tilt.

    As they told me when I went to snoop around at the railway college- your wife won't know when you're coming home 'til she sees you at the front door and, as railohio said, you come home when your kids leave for school and go to work when they come back.

    The thing about being a railway worker is that it has to be in your blood, otherwise you won't be able to run the race, alternativly apply for a yard master or dispatcher, then at least you know homes around the corner.

    I don't know if Amtrak operates any commuter trains in your area but maybe they are also a choice if you really wanna operate a loco and not be too far from home- just a thought.
  9. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

    There's the other drawback.
    Either waiting for something to open up here or relocating.
    We just bought our house 3 years ago and refinanced last year.
    I don't think we'd get what we have into it right now so I don't know how viable relocating would be.

Share This Page