What are the realities of the Conductor trainee job?

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by Alexandria Fiestro, Nov 2, 2019.

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  1. Nov 2, 2019 #1

    Alexandria Fiestro

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    Alexandria Fiestro

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    Can anyone tell me what the day to day life of a conductor (trainee) is like? I know they are required to be on-call 24/7, the hours are unpredictable, they work six days a week and work the extra board for about five years. BUT... how does this play out in real life on a day-to day basis?

    I am looking for conductors to share their personal experiences in addition to whatever help you can give with help to some of these questions...

    Are the calls unpredictable?
    Do you know ahead of time when you'll be called?
    Are they respectful when they call or are they demeaning?
    Do you get calls at 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning?
    After you get done with a shift, can they call you back just a few hours later?
    Have you ever been too tired to go? What happens then?
    What if you haven't been able to sleep when you get home?
    Do you wear your uniform to work or do you change on the train?
    What are the facilities offered to a conductor (trainee) on Amtrak?
    Do you have a sleeping room? A private bathroom?
    How do you get food?
    Do you have a private seating area when you aren't walking around (crew room, etc.,)?

    It is one thing to read about the facts. It is much more beneficial to hear about personal experiences rather than what they say "on paper." (I've already read what's written in that regard.) Many thanks to anyone who can help on some of these questions!
     
  2. Nov 2, 2019 #2

    Thirdrail7

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    Thirdrail7

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    Most of your questions can be answered by the video that is made by the conductors that appeared in the " A Day in the Life of an Amtrak Conductor" video from the What it's like to work for Amtrak thread.

    The rest of your questions would depend on your work location.
     
  3. Nov 2, 2019 #3

    Alexandria Fiestro

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    Alexandria Fiestro

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    Yes, I have seen this video before, and it is very helpful. The work location would be Penn Station, NYC. Thank you for your help!
     
  4. Nov 3, 2019 #4

    Thirdrail7

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    Thirdrail7

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    Well, you've seen the video which gives you an idea of what to expect. Unfortunately, New York is one of the busiest crew bases, with a lot of different assignments. I was hoping you weren't going to say anything on the NEC or Chicago. All assumptions are for New York, Zone 2 (NYP-WAS.)


    Not in New York. There are too many things to cover and they occur at all hours. Additionally, you may receive a call to cover another crew base.

    You have a rough idea but due to the nature of New York, it can change rapidly.

    If you command respect, you'll receive respect.

    Most certainly, particularly as an assistant conductor. Scheduled road assignments start at 122am and pick up momentum at 4 am. A/C Yard assignments start at 7 am. So, with your 2-3 hour call.....

    If you have enough time to perform under the hours of service law, yes.

    That depends on you. If you miss enough calls, you can end up in trouble eventually and face termination. If you tough it out and something goes wrong, you won't be able to complain you were tired if you appeared at work.

    See above.

    That's up to you but if you choose to come to work out of uniform, make sure you have enough time to change prior to going on duty. Personally, I do not recommend wearing your uniform when you're not on duty if you can avoid it.

    If you're lucky, you can get a locker. Other than that, it is pot luck.

    It largely depends on your assignment. Some areas have a quiet room, some do not. If you're lucky, you may get to sit in a reclining chair. Otherwise, you may hang out at a nice, folding table and plastic chair. The bathrooms are as private as you get when you share it with a few hundred coworkers. That's assuming you aren't on a work train, which will leave you in the middle of nowhere. Hopefully, the toilet in the engine works. Eat lightly.


    With money?

    It depends on what kind of assignment you draw and if you end up in a facility with a crew room, it is a private as you can get when you share it with a few hundred coworkers.

    I hope that helps but for the record, I do not work as a conductor but rest assured, the information is accurate.
     
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  5. Nov 3, 2019 #5

    Alexandria Fiestro

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    Alexandria Fiestro

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    I very much appreciate your taking the time to answer all of these questions. I can tell that you know what you're talking about. Based on what you say, I think I am going to pass on the opportunity. I am supposed to have a "strength test" very shortly. I will be canceling it and looking opportunities that are elsewhere. Thanks again!
     
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  6. Nov 3, 2019 #6

    CACharger262

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    I would say a lot depends on how fast seniority moves in your crew base; this meaning how often people above you in seniority either bid out to another area, retire, are fired, move to engine service etc. I work on the west coast and they definitely do warn you that you could be on call for years. I got lucky and was only on the extra board for 8 months. Seniority moved fast in my crew base and I got a regular job (not amazing but no longer on call) fairly quickly. In my experience a lot of the negatives about the early years can be eliminated by how quick you are able to get a regular job: you know when you are working, what days you have off, you don't need to worry about someone calling when you're out at dinner.

    Make no mistake, the first few years are demanding just with how much information you are trying to retain but everything gets easier and more manageable as time goes on. I like my job very much: in most cases they pay you (and pay well) for what you know (rules, customer service, etc) rather than pay you for what you do. The majority of the people I work with are great people. Depending on the job, a percentage of your time is sitting down on the train in the crew area, looking out the window, waiting for the next stop, and being paid at upwards of $33 an hour to do so.

    New York is definitely a bigger and busier crew base than anything we have out west, so I can't speak completely on what your experience would be. I concur with what was said above by expecting calls at all times of the day. You get at minimum 8 hours off after work and if they are extremely short (rare in my experience but can happen like during the holidays) they can and will call you after your 8 is up. Most crew dispatchers are good at warning you if they're gonna need you sooner than later. They will become your best friends.

    If you can't make it, you can call out sick, but keep in mind you only get a handful of unexcused absences a year. It depends on your manager how strictly this is enforced. I've never seen anyone terminated due to attendance.

    A few other answers to your Qs:

    -NY Penn has a quiet room from what I remember from our tour where you can relax or sleep on break
    -You can pack your lunch, buy food in the station or on the train. The company gives you a food stipend each trip, built into your bimonthly pay check.
    -Conductors usually have a table in the cafe car where they set up camp during a trip
    - Extra board employees are guaranteed 40 hours a week. Calling out sick or otherwise breaks the guarantee for the week, but if you've already worked over 40 that week then its not a loss. You may end up barely working one week and get a lot of free money!


    Ask away if you have anything else. It is a fulfilling career with opportunities to move up and there is never a dull day (for better or for worse :) )
     
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  7. Nov 3, 2019 #7

    Alexandria Fiestro

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    Alexandria Fiestro

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    Quite frankly, I have no idea what to do. Last night, I thought I would pass up on the opportunity. After reading your reply, I am not so sure anymore. I am kind of embarrassed by my own indecision. But it is a big step and I do not want to make the wrong choice. I also wouldn't want the corporation to spend all that time training me, only to flake out if I decided it wasn't for me. Not fair to them. Maybe I should take the strength test anyway and see where this goes. I did not know you were guaranteed eight hours off work after a shift.
     
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  8. Nov 3, 2019 #8

    CACharger262

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    Definitely consider it! If you get to the interview, ask whatever questions are still on your mind. A couple of the managers from your hiring crew base will be in the interview and usually have previously been conductors so they should have the answers.

    The company does spend a good amount of money training new hires, so cement your decision now. I believe if you voluntarily quit the job within the first one to two years, you are required to pay back the money they spent on training you.

    And yes. The 8 hours off is part of the federally mandated Hours of Service law. Any job that has you work up to 11 hrs 59 mins, you get 8 hours off after. If you work 12 hours (the maximum amount of time you are allowed to work in one shift) you get 10 hours off. And then other tidbits like you can't work more than 6 days without a full 24 hours off.
     
  9. Nov 3, 2019 #9

    Acela150

    Acela150

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    I have worked in Freight Service for some time, worked for Septa, and very briefly for Amtrak at their Philadelphia Call Center.

    I can definitely suggest taking the strength test. A link to what you'll need to do is below. Fast forward to about 4 minutes and 30 seconds. To see the test.

    While I'm currently not working for any RR I am actively trying to get hired again at Amtrak. I can say that it's a great job! ThirdRail hit the nail on the head with each talking point.

    If can answer any questions about working for the RR please feel free to PM me. And also feel free to check out my thread entitled "Careers on the Rails". I post job openings and info here and there.

     
  10. Nov 3, 2019 #10

    Thirdrail7

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    There is no need to be embarrassed. You asked for the information and that shows you are thoughtful and taking this seriously. While I think CACharger is correct when he says you should consider it, I would like to paint the true picture of New York so you have the proper information to make an informed decision. I'm not worried about the corporation since they often anticipate people not adjusting or passing. However, I like to remind people that when they are selected for a job, someone else who really may want it did not get selected. There are a large number of applicants for a limit amount of positions and this becomes a lifestyle....and you need to have a long term vision if you want to do this.

    Again, I'm not trying to frighten you. I just want you to have as much information that is available so I will add on to a few things.


    This is quite true. However, New York is not the place where ACs get immediate work. There may be a few that sign up in the middle of the night that you may hold after a few months if you're extremely lucky. The trouble is once you are able to hold a regular job as an AC, New York is infamous for taking the lowest available ACs and force assigning them to the conductor's extra list. They tend to do it as soon as it is allowed which just around the one year mark. This is where things get dicey since New York has a large yard. While there are roughly 9 assistant conductor positions in the yard and maybe 3 work assignments, there are roughly 55 conductor positions in the yard. That's a lot of work to cover and you have to contend with people from New York Zone 1 NYP-Zone 1 (NYP-BOS) taking these positions. You also have to worry about personnel from Philadelphia blocking you out of regular assignments, particularly during prime assignments.

    I really want to go over this portion because this is what people tend to mismanage. Yes, you are entitled to 8 hours off if you have completed a shift...providing they need you rested for a full assignment. There is something called a respite in the hours of service of law and it is used in New York, New Haven, and Philadelphia liberally.

    Basics federally hours of service law for passenger service:

    You can work up to 12 working hours in a 24 hour period.
    You can not exceed 12 continuous hours.
    8 hours off restarts your time if you haven't worked 12 continuous hours. If you work 12 continuous hours, you must have 10 hours off.

    So:

    If you work an 8-hour shift, you would be entitled to 8 hours off before you can work your next FULL assignment. However, a break between 4 hours and 7 hours and 59minutes interrupts your hours of service. That means any time between the 4 hours and 8 hours, they CAN call you back to work and utilize.

    Example: There is a job in New York that works a round trip to Philadelphia. It is about a 7-hour assignment and the crew callers a very aware of this Once you complete that assignment, you still have almost 5 hours available to work under the hours of service law. They can send you right back out if necessary. However, let's say you make it home. They can still activate you anywhere between the 4th hour and 8th hour and you'll have 5 hours left.

    That is enough time to take a one-way trip somewhere.

    Another thing I also want to address is "time off" between assignments. While you are guaranteed 8 hours off between shifts, that is counted from sign off, to sign up. It is not an undisturbed rest period. They can call you prior to the end of your 8 hour period of rest.

    Example:

    You finished a shift that ended at 2 pm. You are now rested for an assignment that starts at 10 pm since that is 8 hours from when you finished. Now, add in your call period of 2 or 3 hours which means you may receive a call around 7pm.

    Another thing is your 24 hour relief day. It generally runs from 1201am to 1201am the next day, but you may work into your relief day as you are responsible for any assignment that starts prior to 12:00 prior to relief day.

    Example:

    Your relief day is Tuesday but there is a job that signs up at 11:59 pm on Monday. You ARE responsible for protecting that job. Now, if you work it, you are entitled to 24 hours off from the completion of that assignment. If this job finished at 7:59 am on Tuesday, you wouldn't go back on the extra board until 7:59 am on Wednesday.

    This leads to another situation regarding your relief day: You may be called to cover something right as it ends.

    Example:

    Continuing from above, your relief day is Tuesday. It is Monday evening and you note that train 67 , which signs up at 1:30 am in the morning is open. You're on call to protect anything that occurs prior to 11:59 pm, so you are NOT responsible for protecting that assignment.

    Now, you're enjoying your day off. It starts getting late so you prepare to hit the sack. First, you check the system to see what vacancies exist. You note that 67 is open. Since 67 signs up after your day off finishes at 12:01 am, you ARE responsible for covering this assignment if necessary. This is what @CACharger262 was talking about when he said a good crew caller will let you know if you are needed sooner rather than later. They can be your best friend or worst enemy. :)

    The natural segue is this next statement:

    I have seen plenty of people terminated for attendance issues, largely because of things like I listed above. When the NEC is hopping, it is hopping and New York typically has the most manpower. It is easy to miss calls, sleep through calls or things go to hell while you're asleep. You may call the crew dispatcher at night and they will tell you are 11 times out (the 11th person to be called) with 3 showing (3 open jobs) all day. Finally, you can relax. 3 hours later, you're getting a call because the wires came down or some other disruption occurred. However, some of the people you were following were unprepared and called out or dropped the call. Now, it reaches you and you never went to bed since you thought you had time.

    What will you do?

    If missing calls is not habit and you generally work, I know the bosses in NY will fight off attacks on their workers. It is hard to start discipline proceedings on someone that is working 60+ hours a week (which is probably in NYP.)

    **continued below***
     
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  11. Nov 3, 2019 #11

    Thirdrail7

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    It said my post was too long so here is the continuation.


    That is only for people that work in other crew bases and are on a respite in New York. It is not for New York employees.

    That is an off corridor agreement. Corridor employees are back on the same day, so you do not get a meal allowance...unless, you are held away for a disruption. It is extremely rare.

    No comment but you can peruse this board and see how that is looked upon. :)

    No such thing as the guarantee in New York. You WILL work. If the work doesn't come naturally, they will find something for you to do! If there are too many people sitting around, they will add personnel to the train. They will send you out as an extra AC in the yard. They will assign you to post with the switch tender in the yard. If they are short conductors (which happens quite a bit despite a 25 person extra list), they will move up a qualified assistant conductor to the conductor position and call you to fill their a/c position. These are the type of things that occur while you're sleeping or while you're resting. It is not easy to prepare for but you have to be ready for it.

    Indeed. I make it sound bad but I don't believe it is. You have to have the proper mindset. We've all gone through the extra list. It can be educational, rough, fatiguing, lucrative, exciting, potentially poisonous to fostering new relationships (to quote one of my mentors "the railroad never ruined a good relationship. However, it never helped a bad relationship), entertaining and informative. You will probably work on major holidays. What is even worse, is you may NOT work on the actual holidays but instead be "head out" (the first to be called) on the extra list all-day, so you can't even go anywhere far since you have to be prepared to work. You will not be able to make long term plans.

    It is what you make of it, but you have to tell yourself and those around you: This is a marathon...not a sprint. It is a lifestyle that you will have to embrace to succeed over the hump.

    If you have the "long game" mentality and exercise patience, you will have plenty of opportunities. As a conductor, you can bid to ANYWHERE that Amtrak provides services if your seniority allows it. Want to work out of California for a while? How about Seattle? Maybe Florida is your thing.

    You already have a job lined up.

    That being said, I recommend continuing the process. Take the strength test and digest these posts. I don't know why @Acela150 hasn't chimed in yet but I'm sure he has more to add. He's been around the extra lists many times.

    Then, if you decide it isn't for you, let them know prior to going to school.

    Good luck.
     
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  12. Nov 3, 2019 #12

    Acela150

    Acela150

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    @Thirdrail7 I'm at work right now. :) I'll go into more details when I get home tonight. But I do appreciate the nod! :)
     
  13. Nov 4, 2019 #13

    CACharger262

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    Yeah listen to those folks lol I forgot how radically different certain aspects of on corridor and off corridor are.

    Sometimes it seems as though two different Amtraks exist when comparing the two coasts :eek:
     
  14. Nov 4, 2019 #14

    Acela150

    Acela150

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    Alrighty. I'm on my own laptop now and can go into more details about my career etc.

    I got hired with Norfolk Southern in the Philadelphia area back in December 2014 less then a week before Christmas. I went to their Training Center in Georgia outside of Atlanta for 3 weeks. Amtrak's training center is in Wilmington, DE and the train varies by where you'll work and the amount of rule books you'll need to learn. Ballpark 8-10 weeks.

    For NYP Which is Zone 2 which goes to PHL and WAS AFAIK you'd only need to learn one Rule Book. NORAC. The best rule book out there. It's extremely user friendly, I'm sure ThirdRail may agree with me on that. If it's for Zone 1 where you'd go to NHV and BOS you'd learn NORAC and Metro North's Rule Books.

    At Norfolk Southern I worked freight. I was a trainee for about 3 months. I then "marked up" and became a certified conductor. As part of that training I had to work in the yard with senior conductors, on road trains, but most importantly, I worked the Extra Board. I was on the extra board for 2 months before I held a job for about a month. I was then bumped by a senior employee back to the Extra Board. I won't sugar coat it. The extra board sucks at times. I would get a call 2 hours before the sign up time. In those 2 hours I would get ready for work by doing the basics. I can't remember off the top of my head how many times I got called between 12am and 6am. But it was enough. I loved what I did though. Part of why I loved what I did is cause I'm what is known in the industry as a "buff". Someone who likes trains.

    The most important part of my training was learning hundreds of miles of railroad. I was qualified on about 300 miles of railroad. As part of becoming a certified conductor you'll need to learn the Physical Characteristics of the railroad. Which is knowing where signals are, knowing the speed limits, knowing where mile markers are, knowing where interlockings are, knowing what dispatcher was in charge of the section of railroad that I was on at each and every point. I did have to qualify on the Corridor and part of the Keystone Corridor. I was on the head end of a lot of Amtrak trains learning the railroad I'd be on. It's kinda freaky when you're going 110 mph and a train going the other way doing the same speed comes at you. I won't go into details about my reaction the first time it happened. Being qualified on Physical Characteristics is compared to you take the same route to and from work everyday. You know where a pot hole is, you know where the traffic lights are etc.

    I was furloughed from NS and didn't go back due to some unforeseen circumstances.

    After NS I was an Assistant Conductor for Septa. Septa was brutal on scheduling. I worked 6 days a week. My day off was always Wednesday. Most of the weekday jobs I would work started anywhere from 4-6am and I would get home anywhere from 6-9pm. Yes, this is outside of the 12 hours of service. BUT, in passenger service their is something called an "interim release". Which means you can sign up at 6am work until 10am and get a break of a few hours, then go back to work at say 3pm and sign off at 9pm. These types of jobs are allowed and legal by the hours of service laws.

    The one thing that I can tell you is, that in the video that ThirdRail posted from YouTube. The whole thing that you can't plan anything, you'll work your birthday, holidays, etc. That is 100% true! I have worked my birthday, 4th of July, Thanksgiving, New Years Day, New Years Eve, Labor Day, Christmas, etc. You are paid accordingly for working holidays. Your birthday, not so much. I've missed my kids birthday more then once.

    So here is what I can say about the job. It's not easy at first. But once you get the seniority to hold a job, it's worth it! The money is great and benefits even better! The most important part is that RR jobs with a pension. Instead of paying into Social Security you pay into Railroad Retirement.

    My suggestion. Take the strength test. If you pass and are offered an interview go to the interview and interview. If they offer you the job and you're still not sure, just ask if you can take a day or two to think about it. Talk to the people that matter most to you. Mom, Dad, Husband, Wife, etc. Make sure they support you! If you want to accept the offer then do it!
     
  15. Nov 4, 2019 #15

    bratkinson

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    Although I was never in train service, I spent 7 years with CSX Intermodal as an 'Intermodal Service Representative', aka, clerk. We had the benefit of predefined 8-hour shifts that overlapped such that 2 or 3 people were working at all times except on weekends.

    Perhaps the biggest drawback to any RR employment is being on the extra board. As noted above, and I cannot stress strongly enough, the extra board means your life will be 100% unpredictable from one day to the next. I had the 'good fortune' of working with 5 others that each had 5 weeks of vacation every year (they each had over 30 years seniority). So I knew I'd be covering their shifts while on vacation. There was another 4 weeks vacation from other co-workers, too. So I had 29 of 52 weeks per year 'planned in advance' based on our posted calendar of who's on vacation when. Being that the extra board was only one person, me, I didn't have to deal with any 'call lists', etc. So when somebody called out sick, I got called unless I was already at work. I worked a fair number of no-notice back-to-back 8-hour shifts when the person scheduled to be my relief called out sick or decided to take one of their 'personal' days, as allowed by the contract. The 8 hours off between shifts was 'spent' driving 15 minutes each way, sleeping, walk the dog, taking a shower, shaving, etc, making a couple of sandwiches to see me through 8 hours, and then it's back to work. In short, the only 'constant' about being on the extra board is 'nothing is constant'.

    Needless to say, your body's circadian rhythm (built in 24 hour 'clock' cycle) gets good and screwed up on the extra board. You'll feel tired at work and be wide awake when trying to sleep. Be sure to black out the windows in your bedroom! I started at CSX at age 60 (I guess I made their EEO reports 'happy') and I was fortunate enough to be in good enough physical and mental shape to put up with and be OK with the inconsistent life style.

    One item not noted by the previous respondents in this thread: NOBODY in your family or friends has any comprehension of what life on the extra board is like! I can't say that strongly enough! You can explain it to them a dozen times over and they still won't understand. They'll try to cajole you and twist your arm to do this or that with them at some future day and time. You have to tell them 'MAYBE, but not likely' in strong terms. I had (and still have) the good fortune of living alone. Not having to plan/schedule 'family time' helps greatly, in my opinion. The dog(s) I had at the time seemed to be OK with my being gone at screwy times and were always happy to get a 30-40 minute walk at any hour of the day or night.

    And when you finally DO get a regular schedule, expect to be bumped back to the extra board when business levels change or someone with more seniority wants whatever schedule you're currently working. In my case, the abolished the extra board for about a year and I had a regular schedule, but one co-worker decided he wanted my schedule and forced a job switch for 3-4 months, then he switched back...all per terms of our contract. A few months later, they redid schedules and reinstated the extra board and I was 'it' once again until there were retirements, etc, and I got a permanent schedule.

    And lastly, once you're holding a regular job, friends and family STILL won't understand that you're working 2nd or 3rd shift and have to sleep while they're at work and/or evenings, Saturdays and Sundays, too. They naturally assume you're 'available' the entire time they're not at work and try to get you to join in their activities. You and they will have to learn to deal with it as best as possible.
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2019
  16. Nov 4, 2019 #16

    Alexandria Fiestro

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    Thank you to everyone for taking the time to help. This does help a lot. I am a very hard worker. My biggest concern is the lack of scheduling and the irregular sleep hours. I've had sleep issues in my life, and that will be my biggest obstacle. I've done a lot of research, and understand that the goal is to hang in there until you are off the extra board. I've heard that in NYC, you can be on the extra board for 5-6 years. Is this typical?
     
  17. Nov 4, 2019 #17

    Acela150

    Acela150

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    Each terminal is different as far as holding a job. A fellow member of AU has mentioned to me in conversation that in Seattle there is a someone who has been holding a job about 6 months after he marked up. But for NY I'd expect a decent amount of time on the board. I'm not sure how many AC's and Conductors are based in NY. But a guess says around 100. @Thirdrail7 may know more then I do about how many Train Service employees are based in NY. You also have to figure out the seniority list. Basically how many Conductors and Assistant Conductors there are in the system. I don't want to take. guess on how long you could be on the board. But I'll do it anyway. I'd say a year to two years is how long you'd be on the extra list. BUT! Don't take that to heart! As ThirdRail has mentioned you can somewhat predict when you'll get called. BUT! Again that can change in a heartbeat. If a train pulls down the overhead in Philly then that will mess things up. During my time at NS there was a day where I called the automated crew calling system and they were showing 2 jobs open, I was 6th out. I figured, ok I might not work until after midnight. 3 hours later I was called to take a train. That gives you an idea on how fast things can change.
     
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  18. Nov 4, 2019 #18

    crescent-zephyr

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    Just wanting to thank everyone for the interesting insight to working for mainline railroads. I worked for a short line as a conductor for a few years.... hearing this information is really fascinating to me.
     
  19. Nov 4, 2019 #19

    Thirdrail7

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    5 or 6 years is probably too long but if you're willing to sacrifice, it is entirely possible to get off the extra list within a year or two. These are the keys:

    If you're willing to take ANYTHING to get off the extra list, you'll likely find something. If you're looking for certain days off, or a certain amount of money or a certain schedule, you'll like have to wait. This is because the New York crew base is not only about seniority....it is about where you live.

    There are jobs that sign up at all hours of the day and night. They finish at all times too! However, the New York area is expensive. Typically, people don't live that close to New York Penn Station and most people do not want to drive to the station, since parking is expensive. The closer you live, the bigger the advantage you'll have. Here is key#2:

    Anyone coming from outlying points will not want to drive in as mentioned, so they will depend on the trains. If you live near a Long Island railroad station or within range of a subway station, the advantage is yours since workers from NJ, CT or PA typically can't get in super early nor do they want to stay super late.

    As such, people that live in these areas tend to get on jobs quicker than people that depend on a train to get them to work. Another thing that will help is when you become a qualified conductor, people that live on Long Island will plant themselves on yard jobs that sign up/sign off in Sunnyside Yard, Queens. Once again, this is because it is expensive and time-consuming to drive to Queens if you live too far away.

    The only issue is there has been a concentrated effort to hire people that live close to New York. I've noticed the same thing in most of the crew bases along the NEC. It wasn't uncommon for Washington employees to live near Baltimore. You're finding more of them live in Virginia. So, it may take time for things to shake loose since the people that want to move of the jobs are often blocked by people that migrate from another crew base.
     
    frequentflyer likes this.
  20. Nov 6, 2019 #20

    Alexandria Fiestro

    A

    Alexandria Fiestro

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2019
    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    New York, NY
    I actually live within walking distance of Penn Station. I took the strength test on Monday. It wasn't too difficult, but I think I failed it based on the reaction of the woman who administered the test, who was actually rooting for me. I haven't heard anything yet.
     
  21. Nov 6, 2019 #21

    KSCessnaDriver

    K

    KSCessnaDriver

    Joined:
    May 19, 2019
    Messages:
    1
    This is a very interesting read. As an airline pilot, it sounds all to familiar to the job I do. I have days where I think of going to work for the railroad, but it sounds like basically the same job, just the vehicle is different.
     
    Bob Dylan likes this.
  22. Nov 7, 2019 #22

    Acela150

    Acela150

    Acela150

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2008
    Messages:
    8,558
    Location:
    In a Sea of Foam
    I have taken the strength test three times. Failed it three different times as well. I know I can lift 50 pounds, which is part of the reason they issue it. But the test is in my way of getting back. I emailed the HR recruiter last time to get my results. I was .05 away from passing on my shoulder score and .06 on my knee score. Needless to say once I figured things out I was stunned on how close I was to passing. The last time I took it was in August and I'm able to retake the test in about 10 days or so. I am trying to get a hold of the appropriate person who is in charge of the job(s) that I'm interested in. That person is out of their office until the end of the week. After I found out I didn't pass, which was a couple of days, I started to use a variety of weight exercises at the gym that I go to. If you did fail, you need to wait 90 days to be able to try it again.
     
  23. Nov 7, 2019 #23

    railiner

    railiner

    railiner

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2009
    Messages:
    7,350
    Location:
    South Florida
    Re: working the extra board....
    In my lifetime of working for various transportation companies, I've certainly done my fair share of bucking the extra boards. I must mention, that holding a "regular" assignment, is not always better than working the board. In fact, there are times when a particularly undesirable regular assignment has to be "force-assigned" to the junior unassigned person. Another situation, is that certain senior employees that can hold almost any regular job they desire, will work the extra board during peak seasons to make a lot of extra money. Then, when work slows down, they'll bid back on a regular assignment. In some jobs, your retirement is based on what you have earned over a certain period, so those facing retirement may try to raise that figure.
    I agree that working the board can be tricky. As Acela 150 noted...you may think that being so many down the list from getting called makes you 'safe' for a period. But then, suddenly, a couple of unforeseen jobs open up. And some of those ahead of you, also thinking they are 'safe', are not available, and miss out. Suddenly the whole board can 'flip', until the caller finally reaches someone to accept the call. Which bring's up so-called "sharpshooter's". These are people, who have mastered the board...they study it, learn about vacancies, and figure out when to lay off, or mark back up, to position themselves for a "plum" assignment. They also know how to utilize the Agreement, to earn penalty pay, for things like short calls, or run-arounds, etc...
     
    OBS and Thirdrail7 like this.
  24. Nov 8, 2019 #24

    Thirdrail7

    T

    Thirdrail7

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2014
    Messages:
    4,116
    Then, you shouldn't have too much to worry about. You won't have too much of a commute. Even if you get a long call, you can sleep until it close to reporting time.

    Best of luck to you.
     
  25. Nov 8, 2019 #25

    blueman271

    blueman271

    blueman271

    Lead Service Attendant

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2003
    Messages:
    260
    Location:
    Hampton, VA
    Are there any instances when a person can be eligible for SS and Railroad Retirement. For example if a person were to spend twenty years in a non-railroad job paying into SS and then spend another twenty years working for the railroad paying into Railroad Retirement would they be eligible for both? I’m specifically thinking about veterans here.
     

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