Conductor Trainee

Discussion in 'BNSF Railway' started by PACNW Righty, Nov 28, 2011.

  1. PACNW Righty

    PACNW Righty New Member

    I have an interview for a conductor trainee position based out of Vancouver, WA. I have read several other threads regarding what to wear and so forth. If I am hired, how long is the training and will it be conducted in Vancouver since that would be my hiring location? Any other tips would be really appreciated.
  2. Charlie

    Charlie TrainBoard Member

    Those are questions best asked of the railroad you are interviewing for. Any input we could offer may or may not be relevant to what you will be doing. What railroad are you interviewing with?

  3. PACNW Righty

    PACNW Righty New Member

    Charlie, sorry it took so long to get back to you. I will be interviewing for a position with BNSF. I have done some searching on-line put have not been able to pin down how long the training course is. It really is of not consequence, other than just wanting to know. I do interview next Tue so most of my questions will be answered then.
  4. Charlie

    Charlie TrainBoard Member

    Your "classroom" training will probably last about 6 weeks. Most likely you will be trained at the terminal location where you hire out. I emphasize "classroom" since it may or may not be in a classroom, it could be in a conference room or office etc. The "classroom" training may or may not consist of "hands-on" training where you will actually be shown the hardware and it's makeup. You may also spend a part of the day working with a crew on duty. Then you will most likely take qualifying trips to familiarize yourself with the divison of the railroad where you will be working and how the job is actually performed under actual conditions. When you have completed all that you will take your qualifying exam(s).

    My particular training covered a 6 mo. period. We had 7 weeks continuous classroom training at N.A.R.S. in Overland Park KS. Normally the training was 6 weeks but the course outline was changed midway thru our sequence and we wound up with an extra week. No problem, the RR was paying for it all anyway! The rest of our time was qualifying trips. There are several locations that are/were protected by the Chicago Division seniority roster.(Chicago itself, Cicero,Eola,Rochelle,Mendota,Savannah IL (and at that time Ottawa on the Fox River branch)plus the Chicago/LaCrosse WI inter-divisional pool and the METRA commuter trains. Our class was 17 strong, it was supposed to be 21, but several dropped out or never showed up. Our class had guys from all over the country. There were 6 of us from Chicago. Our home terminal was Eola, but in the first year and a half I was marked up, I was lucky to work out of Eola even once a week! Most of my time I worked out of Cicero or on the "dinkys"(METRA commuter trains). My very first job upon marking up was as a conductor on an early morning commuter train. I didn't even have a uniform. I had a hat,keys and a ticket punch. I had finished qualifying on commuter trains the previous afternoon.
    The rest of our class was mostly from Lincoln NE. They were all working pool trains on their divisions while we were still qualifying on switch engines and road switchers at Cicero. And Cicero was the first of our qualifying terminals.
    So you see, I really don't know what you'll be facing as far as training goes. If you have mountain railroading at your terminal, that will be a specialized training chapter since it involves knowledge of hardware and procedures not used on flatland railroads.
    Your qualifying exam will most likely be the most difficult part of your training. You get only two chances to pass it. Passing grade is 90% or better. If you don't pass it on the second try. Well... at least you got a taste of railroading up close and personal.
    At your interview, be straight-forward, ask questions(like "how long will my training last?"),be attentive, dress neatly, no T-shirts or torn jeans. Business casual(polo/golf shirt) and khakis are alway good. If facial hair is part of your daily appearance(hint...if it ain't on your drivers license photo-lose it!)be sure it is clean and neatly groomed. Also a "Mohawk" is not a real cool hairdo to impress a personnel wonk with! The HR person wants to know if you are interested in the job and questions about salary,working conditions and training are expected. Don't brag but be honest about your accomplishments if asked.( ie you are an Eagle Scout or were "Junior Mayor" of your town etc). Your HR person will probably tell you approximately when the class will start. If you succeeded in impressing them with your abilities, they will tell you that they will contact you prior to the start of class. If you dont hear anything after,say,a couple of weeks, give them a call and ask if a date has been set yet for training. They want to know that you are still interested and serious about the job. You aren't bothering them, that's their job and they expect it.
    In conclusion ... "break a leg" and when you ARE hired... work safely, someone wants you to come home in one piece every day.


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