Old 07-15-2009, 11:02 PM   #1
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Default A Day on the Line

It's an ambition that's floated around my head for years, and in the fairly near future (and depending on where other interests take me) I'm making plans to apply for the railroad. After doing a little research, I learned that I'd be starting training and beginning as a brake crewmen. This may depend from company to company.

My purpose for starting this thread was to ask those who have experience in this line of work what to expect from day to day at the various rungs of the ladder.
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Old 07-16-2009, 01:53 AM   #2
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It really depends on the size of the company. For example, the bigger the carrier the more specific and focused your job description will be. With a larger carrier, you will just work under the direction of the conductor and nothing else. With a smaller non-union carrier, expect to work beyond the scope of your job description, i.e., engineer, conductor, track laborer positions all in the same work week. However, the smaller the carrier, the more likely that you will be able to "plan" your days off. With the larger carrier, you will work something called an "extra board" and be expected to be available for work 24/7. Of course, this is just a "basic" idea of the lifestyle that you will incur so, be forewarned!
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Old 07-16-2009, 02:10 AM   #3
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So are you saying that, typically, with these larger carriers its much more set and your chances of advancing to other positions are slim whereas in smaller carriers (branch/short lines?) they need all the help they can get?
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Old 07-16-2009, 03:07 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gear View Post
So are you saying that, typically, with these larger carriers its much more set and your chances of advancing to other positions are slim whereas in smaller carriers (branch/short lines?) they need all the help they can get?
It's not that your chances of advancment (brakeman to conductor, conductor to engineer etc) are slim, it's that whatever title you were to have, expect that to be your one and only job while you have that title - until you advance to another - at that time that would become your one and only job.
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Old 07-16-2009, 11:56 PM   #5
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Alright, so what, basically, is a track laborer's job, beyond the obvious; manual labor on the track.

From what I've gathered, they count cars, do car maintenance...
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Old 07-17-2009, 01:42 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Gear View Post
Alright, so what, basically, is a track laborer's job, beyond the obvious; manual labor on the track.

From what I've gathered, they count cars, do car maintenance...
...ROW maintenance/repair.
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Old 07-17-2009, 07:28 PM   #7
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Track laborer is a fine way to start a career and, depending on the company, can pay pretty well for an entry level position. If you are intersted in making railroading a career, follow the directions of your foreman, keep your eyes open, and you'll lean alot. Not just about the job at hand but about interacting with the dispatcher, about rules for establishing on-track-protection and how to get along with others.
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Old 07-17-2009, 09:48 PM   #8
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From UP's website, I seem to fit all requirements, however the contact lenses I wear will be a problem when working in dirt and such. I assume glasses would be an acceptable solution? Also, their website doesn't mention anything about this, but does anyone know if they accept diploma equivalencies (GEDs)? UP's FAQs page under "Applying for a Job" states in regards to background checks of education

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All post-high school attendance and/or degree(s) and dates of completion will be verified.
Post high school, then? What exactly does this tell me?
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