How do you become a train driver

I was curious what type of requirements are common to someone who drives big deisel electric locomotives for freight trains. I don’t imagine its too complicated, more a matter of finesse and planning for the long start and stop times. I looked around the internet and had millions of hits for any keywords that seemed to be relevant and nothing in the first few pages of matches that was right. Any advice.

I cant answer this question directly, but I can tell you some things. An (ex)coworker of mine who was in sales decided to become a conductor. Apparently some of the old-timers retired (were encouraged too) so they need new ones.

After training (pun intended), he will be “on call” and may get asked at any time to drive a train. Sometimes round trip, sometimes one-way. I believe it is a union job.

here is a job posting with a decription:

I had an interesting conversation with a train engineer on the Long Island Rail Road a couple of years back.

He said that the exam to become an engineer was extremely difficult. He compared the intensity of studying for the engineer exam to studying for the bar exam. His explanation was that in most cases, running the train was quite routine. But when things went wrong, they could go really really really wrong.

Is the money good?

I was one of the millions of little boys who had this as a dream “when I grow up” job. I can’t speak for the US, but here in Australia, it goes something like this:

You get a job as a station assistant, which involves sweeping platforms, prising chewing gum off the seats, setting indicator boards, etc. Then you can either progress up through jobs like Station Master, and take a clerical career, or you become a guard (US=conductor?). After doing this for awhile, you become a Driver Grade 5. This means you’ll be driving little shunting engines around the freight yards. You progress over your career through the grades, driving frieght trains, suburban passsenger trains, interurban commuters, then as a Driver Grade 1, you’ll be on the glamourous interstate express trains (if they still exist :wink: ).

If I am not mistaken,there is a school in the U.S. that teaches one to be an engineer.

Railroad engineer careers:

From the link:

Hourly earnings of .44? Sign me up!

Another take on it.

Cool :slight_smile:

My Father is an hoghead (driver) on the CN (Canadian National).

It can be. Some of the Railroads that are Unionized can have quite lucrative wages… >100K is not unheard of at all. However, here in Canada some of the newer “upstart” railroads are not good payers (in comparison the CP/CN at least) and may be anywhere from $15-$20+ hour… which isn’t horrible, but considering another people doing more or less the same thing make twice or more than you may give you a bit of a sense of being ripped off. The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers is quite powerful and has negotiated quite good deals for its members with the railways, IMHO.

Are jobs available? A definite maybe. I know that the CN has a large furlough (sp?) board with quite a line of more “junior” people waiting to go up the ladder at most divisions. Generally, you don’t start as a “hoghead” but as a conductor if your lucky, or a yard worker and go up from there. It usually takes years, but you can luck out.

Is it hard? No. I don’t think so. I’ve been on several runs and I think I could handle it without much problem… although most of the hogheads would like you to think its as tough as flying a Concorde, 747 or SpaceShuttle or something… which its not :slight_smile:

Is the job difficult? Well, how hard could it be? You don’t even have to steer. :smiley: :smiley: