Old 05-13-2010, 06:31 PM   #1
trevelline
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Default Job as a engineer?

Hello, everyone
I was out rail fanning the other day and a BNSF engineer stopped and started talking to me. I asked him on his thoughts about being an engineer in the future. I also told him that my son who is currently 16 years old would love to be an engineer when he becomes 18. He told me he would not recommend it because soon all trains will be remote controlled from the other side of the country, and will no longer require crews. He also said train crews used to have 3 person crews now they are made up of 2 person crews which will soon be 1 then the job as an engineer will be unheard of. What do you guys think of that. Will the job always be around or will railroads make all trains remote control to save money?

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Joe
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Old 05-13-2010, 11:04 PM   #2
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I guess the guy had a pretty cynical outlook. Remote controlled mainline trains will catch on about as quickly as remote controlled passenger airliners.
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Old 05-15-2010, 05:51 AM   #3
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Well do you think it is a job my son can look up to doing when he is older?
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Old 05-15-2010, 12:42 PM   #4
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It's a tough job to do, which is why I avoided it. Up until a few years ago, I had planned to become an engineer, until the point at which I realized what the job would really be like. For starters, the hours are terrible. You can't plan a weekend trip with your family, or even a family movie night in advance. You can't count on being home for anything, even Christmas. Not only that, but in many cases you simply cannot have a normal sleep cycle. They can call you to work a full day at 8AM on Friday, and then call you again at 2AM on Saturday morning, and then at 8PM Saturday night if they so wish.
Second, if he has the idea that you hire on as an engineer in training and then work up to engineer quickly, that's also usually not the case. It takes a few years being a conductor to get that far. That's not as bad, but the hours were the main thing that kept me away.
The money is good though, one of my friends who is currently a conductor with CN has almost saved enough to buy a house and he's only been going at it for a couple years.
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Old 06-10-2010, 06:43 PM   #5
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I wasn't sure to place this here, but I felt this was the most appropriate place rather than create a new thread.

Does anyone know if going to a Railroad academy (such as NARS or MODOC) would be worth the time and investment to help get a job with BNSF or UP, or even CSX or NS?

Not many threads on the net regarding this, so any input would be much appreciated.
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Old 06-11-2010, 06:01 AM   #6
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Recent discussion here
http://www.altamontpress.com/discuss...4894#msg-44894
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Old 06-11-2010, 09:41 PM   #7
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I find it hard to believe remote control trains will see mainline operations in my life time. I can think of so many problems when it comes to trains breaking down or running into issues in isolated places. Right now, if something breaks, the crew has a chance to fix it, if a remote breaks down on say the UP Rosedale Sub, it's gonna take hours to get a crew up there to fix it.
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Old 06-12-2010, 08:50 PM   #8
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Appreciate that link, thanks J.
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Old 07-30-2010, 06:50 PM   #9
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Think shortline. I've been an engineer for 37 years and love shortline over Class I. And they seem to have a lot of jobs open.

Nobody is going to hire him as an engineer. You usually start out as a conductor, then go to engineer school after 6 months or a year.

Great career, but it has it's ups and downs just like any other job. Good luck to your son, I hope it works out.
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Old 08-02-2010, 12:53 PM   #10
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i was out looking at a locomotive in a scrap yard for our museum,on the way home stop to take some pics of our newest short line.When i informed them i was looking for a job and knew something about railroading and could weld I was offered a job,I worked doing car repair, now I'm getting work train crew,starting out as switch bitch(as we call it)
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Old 08-10-2010, 11:16 PM   #11
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Another really good article:
http://railroad.net/articles/columns...s_20060602.php
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Old 08-11-2010, 12:26 PM   #12
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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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Old 08-11-2010, 05:04 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trevelline View Post
Well do you think it is a job my son can look up to doing when he is older?
Norfolk Southern currently has 40 positions for Conductor open. Have your son read teir job description even if he's not inthe NS territory --

Quote:
Conductor Trainees operate track switches, couple cars and work on freight trains in yard operations and on the road with heavy travel. You must be able to lift 80 lbs., as required when replacing knuckles that connect rail cars. This involves strenuous, outside work in all weather conditions and requires extensive travel. The conductor trainee operates track switches by moving a lever that moves sections of track to properly place railcars, couples cars, and works assembling freight trains in rail yard operations performing various duties involving moving and aligning various parts of rail equipment to create or build trains. You must be able to perform several tasks safely that will require pulling, controlling and maneuvering onto and off of equipment.
https://www1.recruitingcenter.net/Cl...=13380&esid=az

My son is younger than yours, but he want to be a train egineer one day, too. I've told him it's good work if he can get it,but that it's hard work. Go into it with eyes wide open. I tol him my story, that I too wanted to work for the railroad. Even thought about going to those "railroad conductor schools" which may or may not be a waste of money depending on who you talk to.

One day ws shotng a shortline. It was July or August of 1999, hot as everything. I sat in the car with the AC on, then would get out when a shot presented itself. Then I thought about it. The guys working on the train didn't have that luxury. In fact, they didn't have AC. I'm pretty hot natured. That was when I decided I should look for another line of work.

I was single then. Maybe I should have pursued it. I'm married with two kids now. Working for a Class 1 is not something I would even think about becauseof the time away from them. Sometimes I do wish I had at least go to "railroad school."It may have been fun and maybe I could have found a shortline with ACs!
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Old 08-12-2010, 01:03 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J View Post
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.

This sums it up nicely, be a fan but do the job properly and safely first.

It may not be so different over here after all, as a trainee engineman progressing to driver, working as a driver for 10yrs on the same route as many of my shots, the job sounds the same, away from home alot, random hours/sleep cycles etc all very familiar, enjoyable YES. The job probably contributed to the demise of my first marriage but I still have contact with my kids that was lacking at the time. My new job as customer service sucks but I have time for photography and my new wife, contact with old workmates keeps me up to date somewhat, do I miss railroading? YES but I will get by. Mark.
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Old 08-14-2010, 08:19 PM   #15
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Quote:
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You usually start out as a conductor, then go to engineer school after 6 months or a year.
On NS that is the case. Not true on other railroads. NS seems to force conductors to go to engineer in a lot of cases.
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Old 08-15-2010, 02:26 AM   #16
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On NS that is the case. Not true on other railroads. NS seems to force conductors to go to engineer in a lot of cases.
Up in the great white north, Transport Canada along with the two class 1's CN & CP want railway conductors to work a minimum 2 years before moving on to locomotive engineer (up to their discretion if they want too).
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Old 09-24-2010, 04:35 AM   #17
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The US Military already has Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). The technology to remotely control a lash-up of engines cross country can't be far away. The UAV technology will be the starting point for a new technology to drive trains. The UP has a central dispatching center in Omaha and the BNSF in Ft. Worth. A central piloting center would be very similar. In an 8 to 12 hour shift, an engineer could remotely drive several trains from origin to destination and a large railroad could probably run its system with fewer engineers.

The reliability of engines, air brakes, draft gear, rolling stock, etc., will improve to the point where trains will go much longer distances without breaking down. The rolling stock will be fitted with sensors to report developing defects, just like they report car information by RFID, and repairs will be made at intermediate points along the route.

When CTC was being installed on the Iowa Division of the Illinois Central where I worked in the 60s as an operator, a signal maintainer once told me "The railroad can't depreciate you." But they could and did depreciate the capital expenditure to install CTC and abolish the operators' jobs. It's the same thing with engineers and the technology that would reduce their numbers.

I worked for the IC for three years and have worked with computers for 40 years. I believe I can see where railroad technology is going.
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Old 09-24-2010, 11:59 AM   #18
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No disagreement about automation. The Muskingum Electric Railroad in Ohio ran an automated system back in the 1960's including, when in push mode, a hopper car with headlight and horn. I believe the whole operation was on private property.

Technology aside, public policy is not ready to accept unmanned road trains operating in areas where there is interaction with the public at crossings or along station platforms.
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Old 09-24-2010, 07:40 PM   #19
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The US Military already has Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). The technology to remotely control a lash-up of engines cross country can't be far away.
Terrible analogy. Apples and Oranges. If you cant see why, I dont know what more to say.
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Old 09-24-2010, 07:48 PM   #20
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The job of engineer may go, but the job of conductor will only be taken over by robots. And that my friend is a good ways off.
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Old 09-27-2010, 04:02 AM   #21
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Quote:
Terrible analogy. Apples and Oranges. If you cant see why, I dont know what more to say.
It's not an analogy, it's an extrapolation.
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