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Seeking job advice, railroad freight conductor?


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18 replies to this topic

#1 of 19 OFFLINE   Carl Johnson

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Posted April 01 2007 - 12:52 AM

CSX railroad is about to offer me the position of freight conductor. My search for a job was spurred by the fact that my current employer, a local military defense contractor, has been laying people off and our director of operations has been dropping hints that the entire facility may be shuttered sometime between now and the end of the year.

Here's a summary of the position.
General Job Description:
A conductor is a train service employee in charge of line-of-road train movements and/or yard switching and train make-up. They are required to operate switches; operate uncoupling levers; operate remote control devices; sets/releases hand brakes; inspects and makes minor train repairs; comprehends signals, safety, operating rules and communications; and, supervises switching activities and train movements.

Principal Duties and Responsibilities:
Supervise the switching, loading/unloading, breaking or making up of trains. Travel with the train on its assigned route. Inspect all equipment on cars prior to departures. Assist and instruct crews to couple and uncouple cars, operate switches, and make minor repairs to railcars, including replacing heavy couplings or air brake hoses. Requires walking long distances over uneven terrain. Receive and review instructions from dispatchers, Yardmasters, and station agents and discuss with locomotive engineer and train crew. Ensure all train orders, signals, and railroad rules and regulations are complied with. Prepare required reports, including train bulletins, switch lists, time slips, delay and accident reports, industry work order, etc. Utilize onboard computer systems to process payroll and other information. Must complete annual training and successfully pass safety and operating rules examinations. Federal regulations require periodic testing for drugs and/or alcohol. Work hours vary in length and schedule, including being on call 7 days a week, 24 hours per day. Conductors are exposed to various safety hazards and are required to wear protective equipment such are hearing protection, safety glasses, etc. Most work is done outdoors, year around.

Knowledge, Skill And Ability Requirements:
Solid employment history preferred. No pending criminal charges or active probation. No felony convictions within the past five years. No DUI within the past three years. A safety leader. Military, heavy equipment, or mechanical experience a plus. Must be able to pass reading, hearing, vision, and color vision exams and physical examination.


Does anybody have experience working for a railroad? I'm well aware that the hours are brutal and that I'd be working outdoors.

#2 of 19 OFFLINE   Edwin-S

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Posted April 01 2007 - 08:57 AM

Yes. Avoid at all costs. It isn't just the working hours or conditions that make working for the railroad a shitty experience. It is dealing with the ignorant, fascistic, assholes that pass for management on railroads today.

It is one thing to be stuck on afternoon or midnight shifts for most of your life, but being stuck on those shifts is quite another when you have to deal with ignorant, moronic, f#@#ing fascists that are made into supervisors because they are no good for anything else.

It can be even worse for operating personnel, because they are on-call 24/7. At least in the mechanical department, where I used to work, a person had regular days off: if you can call it normal to have your shifts and days off being abolished on a regular basis.

At one time, working on a railroad was at least tolerable. In fact, at one time it would have been considered a cushy job to have. Now? No way! Towards the end of my employment with a major Canadian road it felt like you were working in a gulag that allowed parole for 48 hours. The railroad was nothing but extremes. There was never any balance. It went from ridiculously easy going to intolerable, with nothing in between.

The money wasn't bad and the pension benefits were a plus, but I finally had to ask myself.....at what cost? I had been with them for twenty years and by the end of my time there I hated it. I was stressed out and angry all of the time. I thought I was eventually going to have a heart attack or a nervous breakdown if I stayed on the railroad. I had to make a decision when they finally destroyed the point I was working in. I had to decide to move with the railroad or leave. I finally decided that I had to leave in order to maintain my mental health.

I was a safety inspector and the lack of respect was brutal for what my purported job was. I, and others like me, were responsible to ensure that the trains travelling through every imaginable community, loaded with dangerous commodities of every type and kind, were safe to do so; however, as far as railroad management was concerned, we were just worthless shit to be eliminated as fast as possible, because we had the temerity to burn their money and, apparently, add no value to their operation.

I could go on and on about the garbage that was dished out to myself and other co-workers, but this server would probably crash from the load. Posted Image
I will say this. At one time, I regretted not hiring on as operating personnel. On the railroad, for blue collar work, Conductors and Engineers were the golden boys. Outside of management, they made a hell of a lot more money than any other blue collar worker on the railroad and everyone, in every other department, had to kiss their sorry asses because they were the "money makers". At one time I would have considered their jobs the cushiest job on the railroad, regardless of the hours worked. Now? Again, no way! Now, they earn every dollar they make. They earn it because they take their lives in their hands every time they climb on one of the rickety, poorly inspected, poorly air tested, and poorly maintained bombs that pass that pass for trains nowadays. Today, I would never do what those guys do every day......get on train. I won't ride on passenger trains and if I see a train approaching a crossing I stop as far away as possible from the crossing. If people really knew how trains were being maintained nowadays they would not stop six feet from the crossing.

The first thing I think is," Thank God, no one was hurt or killed" when I hear about a derailment on the railroad I worked for. To my shame, the next thing I think is, "right on, another derailment.....you f#@#ing (insert RR here) management bastards. You deserve it!" I can't help but think that. I don't want to see people get hurt or killed but it just makes me smile when I think about the millions of dollars it costs the railroads for every major derailment, because it brings up memories of their bullshit about "risk management". Lousy pricks.

If you want to read perspectives from employees of CSX then check out this link.......http://csx-sucks.com/
If you still want to work for the railroad then I wish you good luck. I hope your experiences turn out to be more pleasant than mine.

Edit: Had to fix the link. Also this link has posts where employees complain about the union as well as management. I have my views on railroad unions but that is a whole other story.
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#3 of 19 OFFLINE   Michael_K_Sr

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Posted April 01 2007 - 12:16 PM

My friend's brother works for a railroad (which I'm not going to name here) and although he deals with it, he despises some of what it entails. Basically the union is so powerful, they dictate that all union members have to follow their policies in lockstep with the union leadership. The most controversial aspect from my perspective is that union members are expected to go out and campaign on their own time for political candidates that union leadership supports. If you don't do it, you'll wind up with the shittiest hours, the lowest salary increases and you can forget about any sort of promotion. Still, he sticks around because the money is good.

Speaking of which, my neighbor's son works in management for another rail system and he is loaded. Railroad managers rake in the money hand over fist.

#4 of 19 OFFLINE   Buzz Foster

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Posted April 01 2007 - 02:22 PM

My best friend is an engineer. The money is good, but the hours suck. He works on a list basis, and his name moves up the list until it is his turn to be called as a train is coming in. He is called, whatever the time, he goes in to work, he takes a train over to Winslow, AZ, gives the train to the next guy, sleeps, gets up when called, and brings another one home, gives it to the next guy, and he's off usually a day or two before he starts again.

The hours are his biggest complaint, though he also had to live in a travel trailer for years, because he did not have enough seniority to "hold" in the same station when the traffic fell off, and the number of engineers was cut. These days, the railroads are running at something like 130% capacity (don't ask me where this number comes from, or how it is calculated). So, they have cut very few, if any, the past couple of years. Fuel costs are making train transportation much more attractive than in the past. There will probably be lots of work on the rails for years to come.
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#5 of 19 OFFLINE   Carl Johnson

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Posted April 04 2007 - 10:29 AM

Thanks guys, this is exactly the kind of information that I'm looking for. The railroad is still processing my drug and background checks but I have no doubt that they will offer me a job.
There just so happens to be a story in the local paper about the very position that I'm considering. http://www.indystar.....=2007704040449
I'm leaning towards accepting the position but it turns out to be a bad move I won't be able to say that I wasn't warned.....

#6 of 19 OFFLINE   MarkMel

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Posted April 05 2007 - 06:32 AM

Yeah but do you get the cool hat? Posted Image
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#7 of 19 OFFLINE   Buzz Foster

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Posted April 07 2007 - 04:38 AM

Don't forget the hickory striped overalls!
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#8 of 19 OFFLINE   Kirk Gunn

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Posted April 07 2007 - 09:13 AM

Try watching "Emporer of the North" before accepting. Hope you can swing a chain Posted Image

Good luck - interesting thread as I knew nothing about RR employment...

#9 of 19 OFFLINE   Carl Johnson

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Posted April 07 2007 - 09:59 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Buzz Foster
Don't forget the hickory striped overalls!

Rumor has it my current employer is about to lay me off. Considering the railroad will increase my take home pay by 1/3 for all I care they could dress me in pasties and a thong Posted Image

#10 of 19 OFFLINE   Bruce Hedtke

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Posted April 07 2007 - 02:26 PM

You know, I saw a railroad conductor in pasties and a thong once. It's a sight I would not like to see twice in my lifetime.

Bruce
The Mads are calling

#11 of 19 OFFLINE   hdblue

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Posted November 15 2010 - 11:47 PM



Originally Posted by Bruce Hedtke 

You know, I saw a railroad conductor in pasties and a thong once. It's a sight I would not like to see twice in my lifetime.

Bruce



Hi,


Thanks very much for this comment. It help me to think about my ideals.



Tks again and pls keep posting.



#12 of 19 OFFLINE   grolik

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Posted November 21 2010 - 06:33 AM

Working somewhere is really good thing for mankind. This makes man happy and usually busy with its work. I also working some where. I can understand that how bad the days are if you are without job and still struggling for that. So that I decided to relocate in canada and now I am in Fort Mcmurray and enjoying my life days.



#13 of 19 OFFLINE   patricholier

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Posted June 04 2011 - 01:07 PM

Hi


You can find this info by using search box in the top of website with some keywords related before posting questions.



#14 of 19 OFFLINE   Jay H

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Posted June 04 2011 - 01:19 PM



Originally Posted by patricholier 

Hi


You can find this info by using search box in the top of website with some keywords related before posting questions.


What? Pictures of railroad conductors in pasties and thongs? :-)


Jay



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#15 of 19 OFFLINE   Edwin-S

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Posted June 07 2011 - 01:38 PM



Originally Posted by patricholier 

Hi


You can find this info by using search box in the top of website with some keywords related before posting questions.



You are about four years too late with your advice.



"You bring a horse for me?" "Looks like......looks like we're shy of one horse." "No.......You brought two too many."

#16 of 19 OFFLINE   mrngorickets

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Posted June 10 2011 - 09:38 PM

Hi,


Thanks very much for this comment. It help me to think about my ideals.


Tks again and pls keep posting.



#17 of 19 OFFLINE   patricholier

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Posted June 12 2011 - 01:00 AM



Originally Posted by Edwin-S 





You are about four years too late with your advice.


That's not important!

If you want to get more materials that related to this topic, you can visit:
Railroad job description

Best regards.




#18 of 19 OFFLINE   tua022012

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Posted February 01 2012 - 07:44 PM

Hi, Thanks very much for this comment. It help me to think about my ideals. Tks again and pls keep posting.

#19 of 19 OFFLINE   tua022012

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Posted February 12 2012 - 06:21 PM

Thanks for your link. It's useful for our community. Same material can be found at : Safety inspector interview questions I hope it's useful for you and you like it. Please continue sharing more information at this topic. Best rgs!