While a more predictable work schedule
does come with seniority, don’t expect it to happen within a short
period of time. Some railroaders wait 20 years or more to land a “9 to
5” workday, which usually consists of working yard or local positions.
There is a reason why railroaders state that railroading becomes a
lifestyle, its not just a saying! Long hours on the job and days away
from your family are typically
common on the big Class I railroads. However, if you are qualified and
are lucky, you can sometimes find openings on shortlines (Class IIIs)
and Regionals (Class IIs) where the hours are shorter and the work
schedule is much more predictable. It should also be noted that while
the hours are long on Class Is, they also offer the best pay where, with
benefits included, one can sometimes reach six digits in earnings.
Freight Train Conductor
Tie Gang Laborer
|Three CSX signal maintainers are about to clear their hi-rail from the main line at Brunswick, Maryland after having taken down a venerable B&O CPL on October 13, 2007.|
Class I/Amtrak Careers
Kansas City Southern
Notable Class II/Regional And Short Line Families
Anacostia & Pacific Company, Inc.
Buffalo & Pittsburgh
Central Oregon & Pacific
Florida East Coast Railway
Genesee & Wyoming
Gulf & Ohio Railways, Inc.
Indiana Rail Road
Iowa Pacific, Inc.
Montana Rail Link
New York Susquehanna & Western Railway (The "Susie-Q")
Paducah & Louisville Railway
Pan Am Railways
Pinsly Railroad Company
Providence & Worcester
Reading & Northern
Rio Grande Pacific Corporation
Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway
Wisconsin & Southern Railroad
This type of money usually isn’t available with the smaller railroads,
although again, they do offer much more predictability about when,
where and how long you will work.
Aside from the good pay Class Is offer there are also other perks
by working as part of a train crew. Because most rail lines run
through the wilderness and backcountry the scenery is spectacular.
Also, if you enjoy being your own boss this line of work
essentially offers such perks as [in most cases] it’s just you and your
engineer/conductor between the time you enter the locomotive cab until
your 12-hour shift is complete (where you reach your intended
destination or not).
|Chessie System/C&O Safety caboose #3143 tags along at the end of a CSX freight through the Grafton, West Virginia yard on August 6, 1991 as a crewman takes a break from the rear platform. Even by this date the classic cars were a rarity on main line trains.|
Lastly, retirement for railroad workers is perhaps
the best of any industry. This is because of the Railroad Retirement
Act, which was established in 1935 and is a fund that railroader’s pay
into separately from the Social Security system. All in all, the pages here will direct you to further information
regarding several different railroad positions/careers such as
engineers, conductors, maintenance, etc. Maintenance department work, such as in a track gang, requires much of the same grueling, long-hours as train crews. You must be available at all times when not on duty and the work consists generally of some type of right-of-way maintenance
whether it be line inspections, replacing rail/ballast/ties, overhauling the track structure, etc. Also, keep in mind that whether
you work on-board the trains or as part of a track gang, the work can be quite physical and require a lot of lifting.