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Old 08-11-2010, 01:26 PM   #12
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Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 532

To get back to the inquiry that originated this thread, it is understandable that a person considering railroad work would focus on the engineer, a very visible symbol. Others have commented in this thread that T&E work is not always riding a smooth-running train through beautiful, well-lit countryside. Other posts have cautioned against a railfan's esoteric knowledge being a substitute for knowledge of a complex and demanding job. There are many opportunities in the industry and a person considering a railroad career would do well to seek an entry-level position with an eye on where it can take them. Why would anyone want to work as a Trainmaster with all the hassles and probably less pay then the crews they supervise? Because being a good trainmaster can lead to other things including jobs in different departments if a person doesn't want a 24/7 life. Unlike many industries railroads offer interesting challenging long-term careers as traffic will expand as environmental and energy issues become more pressing. High Speed Rail is currently receiving a lot of attention but at least in the US, the costs will be a challenge after the initial $8 billion is encumbered.

Enthusiasm for the industry does not automatically make one a bad railroader, although it is true that being a fan should not be emphasized at an entry-level job interview. There are a lot of what you might call fans at all levels of the industry including executives. Consider the expensive paint schemes on some railroad's locomotives, their executive fleets, or the fact that several railroads continue to own or host steam locomotives. It is one thing to have knowledge of obscure things such as the radiator arrangements on different diesels. It is another to perhaps have such knowledge but to temper it with a professional understanding of one's duties be they a switchman or a CEO.
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