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Railroad Jobs
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Railroad Jobs

When you think about railroads and railroad jobs, the first thing that comes to mind is usually an Engineer, Conductor or Brakeman job, likely because these are the most exposed jobs that are observed by the public.

The railroad offers many other "behind the scenes" support jobs (skilled crafts). Diesel mechanics, electricians, pipe fitters, welders, laborers, carmen, switchman, maintenance of way workers (track repair), track inspectors, signal maintainers, electronic technicians, control operators, dispatchers, foreman, train masters, road masters, yard masters and clerks. Most of these jobs are scheduled (hourly) positions, but several are salaried, such as train masters and road masters.

Most of these support positions keep the railroad running, without them equipment and infrastructure would break down and trains would not be able to run. The advantages of working in most of these support positions is that these individuals are able to return home each evening. Engineers and conductors do not always have this luxury and often must spend several nights a week away from home. Their jobs do pay a much higher rate though to compensate for this inconvience.

Many of the skilled crafts require an apprenticeship for new hires if they are not qualified for their craft. Apprenticeships can be as long as two to three years. Other crafts, such as laborers and clerks, usually only have a probationary period of 60 to 90 days.

The advances in technology have reduced some railroad jobs to very low levels. At one time there were hundreds of clerk jobs; station agents, ticket agents and billing clerks. With the down turn in passenger service and eventually handing it over to Amtrak, many railroad depots became unmanned and eliminated many station agent and ticket agent jobs. Billing clerks that at one time had to write car numbers on paper to track loaded railcars as they went through their railroad system were replaced by AEI (Automatic Equipment Identification) tag readers. The tag readers scan all rail equipment and download the information to a computer, where information on the location of shipped freight can be traced and billed when it reaches the set destination.

Other changes on the railroad included the elimination of the caboose (or sometimes called waycar). Removing the caboose eliminated the need for a brakeman and moved the conductor to the locomotive with the engineer. A mechanical and now an electronic device called a FRED (flashing rear end device) took the place of the caboose.

More advances in electronics have changed modern railroad signaling and dispatching. Dispatchers that are hundreds of miles away now control signals and switches on larger railroad systems. This system is called CTC (Centralized Traffic Control) and is widely used by all of the large U.S. and Canadian railroads.

New technology is being introduced called PTC (Postivie Train Control) which is designed to montior and intervene in the event of human error occuring on the system. All of these new advances in technology have helped modern railroads become more efficient, but also have removed the need for manpower on the railroad and the elimination of good high paying jobs that were once the backbone of the railroad.


Street Talk

Steve37  

Good article..I enjoyed reading it...but even with advances in technology there is still human error and that error has caused horrific crashes..Just wish people would not challenge the power of the train...they always lose....

Reply
  about 6 years ago

You are so right, I see at least a locomotive a month in our diesel shop for wreck repair. Most are from crossing accidents where people try to play "chicken with the train" and you are correct they lose, there is no way to win against a 338,000 pound locomotive plus it's consist of rail cars! Thanks again for reading Steve.

Reply
  about 6 years ago

Interesting. I did not know they called the caboose a way car. Nice start on your site!

Reply
  about 7 years ago

Yes, I think the main railroad that used this term was Burlington Northern Railroad, most of the others just used the term caboose. Thanks Shawn, I am always open to feedback, I need all that I can get!

Reply
  about 7 years ago

I LIKE YOUR ARTICLE FOR ITS RICH AND INFORMATIVE CONTENT. THANK YOU

Reply
  about 7 years ago

Thanks for reading it.

Reply
  about 7 years ago

Very helpful for those seeking a good job.

Reply
  about 7 years ago

I hope so. When I applied I did not think about all of the support jobs that were out there!

Reply
  about 7 years ago

-)

Reply
  about 7 years ago

When I was a kid, I used to be fascinated with trains ! Thanks for the article.

Reply
  about 7 years ago

Yes, I was also and did not consider working for the railroad until later in my life.

Reply
  about 7 years ago
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