Training in GA for conductor, what do we expect?

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Living life in Rock Hill, South Carolina

51 months ago

What do we expect during training? How many days of the week? Hours? Test? Hotels? What do they do after school hours and weekends? (entertainment) Or we will even worry about that for getting our A$$ kicked all day???? ANY DETAILS PLEASE.

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NS CT in Loveland, Ohio

39 months ago

I see this question was posted 11 months ago, but maybe I can answer these questions for future conductor trainees. I completed my training yesterday, started with a class of 58 and graduated 55. Two failed the hang test and one just up and left the hotel one night after he decided this was not the job for him...he was 58 years old.

About the hang test. Everyone must hang onto a steel ladder constructed exactly like the ladders you will find on railcars. You must hang for approximately 1 min, 15 secs with each hand all while swinging a railroad lantern. Sounds easy, but two people had to leave because they couldn't do this after three attempts. If you get a notification of a school date go to a playground and practice hanging from a monkeybar. You will need some good leather gloves, not mechanics gloves, or anything made of rubber or cloth. I bought my gloves at a truck stop...figured if they were good enough for truckers, they were good enough for me. Adjusting your grip during the hang test will be enough to make you do it again. You don't want that!

The rest of the day will be spent going over the layout of the facility, meeting your instructor and staff and completing all the other administrative stuff. You will also receive your study guides. Expect homework every night. I spent every night studying, doing take home tests/quizes. This was common practice for every student and is necessary to complete this course, so if you cannot commit don't go.

Week One-learning how to use our guidebooks and locate rules of operation. At least one test or quiz everyday. Only had to wear workboots on day one, then we were allowed to wear street shoes rest of week. Alot of information to take in, but it all comes together in week two. Class days usually last from 8:00 to 4:30, but there were a couple days we had to show up at 7:00.

I will add week two info in additional comment block.

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NS CT in Loveland, Ohio

39 months ago

Week Two-spent out in the railyard located at the training facility. This was my favorite time and this was when everything we learned in week one really started to make sense. Very knowledgeable contract employees (NS Retired) showed us how to switch tracks, replace coupler knuckles and air hoses, but the best thing was riding on the cars and locomotives coupling and uncoupling cars. Plan on being outside rain or shine...just like the job requires. The last day of week two will be your evaluation. Each task you practiced during the week will have to be demonstrated and passed. Pay close attention to your instructors in the yard and you will not fail. You will also have to show up very early this day, about 4:00am because some of your tasks have to be completed during darkness. The main thing is to always be alert and safety conscious. You'll be surprized at how quiet these rail cars are even when your standing next to the track.

Week Three in next comment block.

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NS CT in Loveland, Ohio

39 months ago

Week Three-Truely a week from Hell! Only because none of us ever seemed to do anything but go to class, get dinner, then back to our rooms and study until we went to sleep. No kidding at least three tests or quizes each day. Signal test can be difficult if you haven't begun to study or take practice tests during previous weeks. If you made it to this point you already have a good attitude and will do whatever it takes to pass each test. I highly recommend doing all exercises in your workbook and start to review them no later than Wednesday night, and take notes when instructors advise...they are setting you up for success. The final was all information learned in the classroom and in the yard, nothing new, but you do have to understand applications to get through some of the questions. 80% required to pass. Award was given out to the Top Conductor, so we had some friendly competition comparing grades which are posted in classroom. Best feeling was passing final and heading home. Great experience!

About the hotel-I stayed at Roadway Inn about one mile from facility. Really a dive, but there are no bedbugs, or roaches. Each room has small fridge and microwave. Cable TV and free wifi. If you have a laptop bring it. You can take practice signals tests from website given by the school. You will share your room, so don't do like some people have in the past and bring your significant other to share the room too. This is a billett for students only.

Warning-Alcohol and firarms are not allowed on any property owned or contracted by Norfolk Southern. They will dismiss you in a heartbeat if you have any issues involving alcohol or drugs. Learn the rules early and you will not get into trouble. Some people who lived close to home would leave on the weekend, but if you don't show up to class at the scheduled time you will be dismissed. NS will give you enough money to eat each day.

My favorite instructors were Tom, Jim, Nat and "Bigbird". Good Luck!

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Chris in Chesterfield, Virginia

38 months ago

NS CT, thanks for the great information. I am currently interviewing for the conductor trainee position. What is the salary like? I'm seeing different things, but what is this $201k business all about in the postings? That CANNOT be right.

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Mark in Winchester, Tennessee

38 months ago

That's great info about phase I. Thank you for sharing. I would like to know about
phase II. I have a hiring session to attend in a few weeks and am very interested in this career. Just want to know once you complete training class in GA and start phase II in your home town are you working on a set schedule until your training is complete and you get marked up on the xtra board? or are you just working on call with an assigned trainer? also if you need a day off or two for something like in my case would be to move is it as simple as just marking off the board? or do they frown upon that? do they limit how often you can mark off? I know this job is an on call basis 24/7 and i have no problem with working a lot or unusual hours but sometimes you have things you need to get done and cant be on call.

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NS CT in Ohio

38 months ago

The home terminal training is an additional 18 weeks and is mostly working every yard and road job with one day dedicated to testing and other training similar to what you did in McDonough, GA. NS expects you to show for a total of six days out of the week, basically you're getting $100 per day...before taxes. Once you complete training you will get tested and marked up. Until then you will be considered a "Cub". Getting time off isn't unheard of, but it must be for special circumstances and approved by superintendant. You won't get union protection until 60 days after mark up, so walk a fine line, don't be late, have all your equipment and if you're not sure about something ask before you act. No one wants you to get hurt and they don't want to lose their jobs over your mistake. Much of what you learned in GA will be helpful in day to day activities. Set schedules are for conductors with seniority, you will start with none. Go to work expecting a 12 hr day, and you'll be thankful when you only have to work 8. I've met some conductors making over $2500 a half (2 wks) so there is money to be made if you can get throught the training. Good Luck!

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Vh18838@hotmail.com

27 months ago

In other words the pay is worth the work?

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Vh18838@hotmail.com

27 months ago

In other words the pay is worth the work?
Vick from Birmingham, Al

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Mike in Greensburg, Pennsylvania

20 months ago

Is the pay worth it? I guess that depends. The work itself is, for the most part, not overly difficult. The lifestyle is another story.

Do you like having a personal life? Being able to make plans? Knowing when you'll get home? Seeing your wife/family? If the answer to any if the above us "yes", then the money is probably NOT worth it. As a railroader, your job MUST come first in your life. You'll be on-call 24/7/365 for many years. You will not have a life, or be able to make/keep plans. You'll be required to stay awake and alert for 12 hours at a time, very often all night. Outside in all types of weather, at all hours. Don't miss a call, or you'll get time off without pay (or worse).

The railroad is CERTAINLY not for everyone. It takes a certain kind if person to be able to live the required lifestyle, and only you know if you can do it or not. Think it through before you apply or accept the job. The money can be decent, but it comes at a price. The question is whether you're willing to pay that price.

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Wiggles in West Chester, Ohio

4 months ago

Do you use gloves during the hang test or is it bare hand?

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joe railroad in Greenville, South Carolina

2 months ago

Wiggles in West Chester, Ohio said: Do you use gloves during the hang test or is it bare hand?

You have to wear gloves. Just go to bass pro shop or Lowe's and buy some good mechanic gloves. The hang test isn't anything to worried unless you're a fatty.

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Mozgar in Gibsonia, Pennsylvania

2 months ago

Along those lines, were there any women training with anyone? Can it be done? I think I can handle the hang test. But the rest?

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janetofthejungle in Niles, Michigan

17 days ago

Are there any women working out there as conductors??

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Smiley in Hampton, Georgia

12 days ago

janetofthejungle in Niles, Michigan said: Are there any women working out there as conductors??

Yes there are female conductors. We have quite a few that are in the training with us as of today.

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Smiley in Hampton, Georgia

12 days ago

Mozgar in Gibsonia, Pennsylvania said: Along those lines, were there any women training with anyone? Can it be done? I think I can handle the hang test. But the rest?

We have women training with us. It is not that bad you just have to focus and be determined for these three weeks. It is a lot of information given to you and you probably wont retain a lot of it, but you will know what you are doing and what is going on.

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Diana in Greensboro, North Carolina

4 days ago

Smiley in Hampton, Georgia said: Yes there are female conductors. We have quite a few that are in the training with us as of today.

I am a female, going to training January 12. I weigh 100 lbs, so only thing im concerned about are the knuckles.

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Diana in Greensboro, North Carolina

4 days ago

Im going to training Jan. 13 and weigh only 100 lbs, so im a little concerned about the knuckles.

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Diana in Greensboro, North Carolina

4 days ago

Jan 12th I mean

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