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Date: 06/14/06 20:22
CSX Conductor schooling
Author: palumbo27

I am considering (yes, considering) going to the testing session June 30th for UNF "Choo Choo U" here in Jacksonville, FL.

I read very intently all of the postings on here from CSX employees and also have done reading on CSX-Sucks.com, it reminds me alot of trucking and truck drivers...(Hence the joke, whats the difference between a puppy and a truck driver? The puppy eventually quits whining)..I am in the trucking bussiness right now and this is a very true statement. I am trying to make the most informed decision I can and I may sit out this testing and wait for the next date (I'm in no hurry). I am a lifelong railfan, very informed as far as a railfan goes, highly mechanically skilled, and a VERY quick study.

A very common thing I notice on here and on CSX-Sucks.Com is that for the most part, all of the complaining and aggreviation from people is mostly from up north, like New York state, Ohio and the midwest areas. I don't hear alot of belly aching from people who run out of Jax terminal, Sanford (Orlando), Waycross, Savannah and such...Is this a poor observation? In listening to the scanner I notice that the dispatchers are very respectful to the train crews, and joke with them quite a bit. As do the trains when they are communicating to eachother. When signals are being called many of the guys make a effort to have "fun" with it..

Is it really any better down south? Sanford, FL will be my first "choice" if I do decide to fill out the app and go with it..



Date: 06/14/06 20:41
Re: CSX Conductor schooling
Author: SLR62

You're going to pay 5 Grand to have someone else train you, and not be guaranteed a job? Find a RR that trains you themselves...



Date: 06/14/06 21:10
Re: CSX Conductor schooling
Author: csx4798

> A very common thing I notice on here and on
> CSX-Sucks.Com is that for the most part, all of
> the complaining and aggreviation from people is
> mostly from up north, like New York state, Ohio
> and the midwest areas. I don't hear alot of belly
> aching from people who run out of Jax terminal,
> Sanford (Orlando), Waycross, Savannah and
> such...Is this a poor observation? In listening to
> the scanner I notice that the dispatchers are very
> respectful to the train crews, and joke with them
> quite a bit. As do the trains when they are
> communicating to eachother. When signals are being
> called many of the guys make a effort to have
> "fun" with it..
>
> Is it really any better down south? Sanford, FL
> will be my first "choice" if I do decide to fill
> out the app and go with it..

It doesn't matter where you go the bitching is every where my friend. Around here we can't have any fun calling signals and such or joking on the radio the local RFE is to much of an a-hole for that. Just my views in VA From my understanding here in Virginia they aren'tgoing throught the colleges for hiring around here anymore. Dont know the deal with your location however.



Date: 06/14/06 21:15
Re: CSX Conductor schooling
Author: bioyans

csx4798 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> It doesn't matter where you go the bitching is
> every where my friend. Around here we can't have
> any fun calling signals and such or joking on the
> radio the local RFE is to much of an a-hole for
> that. Just my views in VA From my understanding
> here in Virginia they aren'tgoing throught the
> colleges for hiring around here anymore. Dont know
> the deal with your location however.

A few threads down, someone also mentioned CSX furloughing conductors in some areas. I'd try to find some local guys in the area I hoped to hire, to make sure there's a real manpower need there, before dumping $5K into training for a job that might not exist when you're done the school.



Date: 06/14/06 21:18
Re: CSX Conductor schooling
Author: BL2-50

There's a lot of complaining about various things but probably the actual worse thing about working on trains for most, is the unpredictable and odd hours you have to work. You should have already been exposed to this in trucking, so you know somewhat what you are getting yourself into. If you can deal with these hours, meaning yourself and your family, and not just now, but for at least the next 20-30 years of your life, you should have no problems. However, a lot of people quit because they realize after starting that they just don't like dealing with the unpredictable work hours... it was OK until they actually had to do it. So, if you really think you can deal with these erratic hours from basically the time you mark-up forward(except when you are furloughed, which is likely to happen annually for the first few years), then go for it.



Date: 06/14/06 22:54
Re: CSX Conductor schooling
Author: palumbo27

I should have given a bit more background..

I do also live in Jax,FL...Believe me, If I could find a way to get hired on at the FEC I would...I hear they have it really good over there.

I was a 48 state OTR driver and also a regional driver for a bit.

I am intrested in a RR career...Where else can I go with it? Conductor seems like trucking would be..Exciting for the first year, burn out setting in after that. I currently work in a supervisory desk job (which I hate..I don't hate the job, just hate working in a office..Ok the job is quite monotonous)at a trucking company..I have almost 3 years truck dispatch experiance...If I don't get out of the office soon I'm going to explode...HELP!

From what I am told, they are hiring down here in Jax, Waycross, Sanford and Savannah.



Date: 06/14/06 23:06
Re: CSX Conductor schooling
Author: cr6972

BL2-50 Wrote:



-------------------------------------------------------
> There's a lot of complaining about various things
> but probably the actual worse thing about working
> on trains for most, is the unpredictable and odd
> hours you have to work. You should have already
> been exposed to this in trucking, so you know
> somewhat what you are getting yourself into. If
> you can deal with these hours, meaning yourself
> and your family, and not just now, but for at
> least the next 20-30 years of your life, you
> should have no problems. However, a lot of people
> quit because they realize after starting that they
> just don't like dealing with the unpredictable
> work hours... it was OK until they actually had to
> do it. So, if you really think you can deal with
> these erratic hours from basically the time you
> mark-up forward(except when you are furloughed,
> which is likely to happen annually for the first
> few years), then go for it.

if you are a model railroader who gets a job riding the high iron, you may hate your hobby afterwards. i have heard stories of die-hard modelers get rr jobs, and just get sick and tired of running anything on their layouts, and end up selling it all. but that's not everyone.



Date: 06/15/06 04:09
Re: CSX Conductor schooling
Author: rbx551985

csxengineer Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> at least in the north and midwest they have
> 150,200-300 mile pools on double track and you do
> have a chance to have a better trip.
>
> along with the thought of them owning you, unless
> your single with no kids. not to mention being on
> call, when i'm 1st or 2nd out theirs no use for me
> to even get in bed i'll be awake all night. and
> usually that's when happens is when i'm not called
> for 15 hours and could have gotten a good sleep.
> so these are all things you have to think about.
>
> you can't even begin to know what it's like until
> you look out of the cab window, and not into it.


Wow, that last line about says it all. "It's not always greener on the other side," so to speak. On the other hand, I have many friends at CSX (and Amtrak and at NS, too) who thoroughly enjoy their work, and just "put up with the b.s." One question for everyone: if someone (anyone) takes those courses for $4G (another $1G is for all your personal expenses, which are NOT covered -- but I've heard stated when I've taken the qualifying tests myself), does PASSING the entire school make you eligible to work for any other RR besides just CSX? (NS and FEC both have lines into Jacksonville, so I'm wondering if CSX is the only game in town, as far as this school goes...?) There may be another "reality" to the coin, in that someone who decides to go through with it may find himself/herself in a position to join out with almost any RR, including the shortlines. (And there is at least one I'm aware of near JAX as well -- the one that took over the former CSX lines out to Fernandina Beach, if I'm not mistaken...?) When all's said and done, there may be possibilities beyond "just CSX."



Date: 06/15/06 04:55
Re: CSX Conductor schooling
Author: Anvilhead

If you hire out on CSX in T&E service please write back in a few years and let us know how you're doing.

The posts you've been reading here on TO and CSX-Sucks are pretty much right on the mark. The griping from up north is likely because the former CR PC NYC guys didn't realize how good they had it until CSX started implementing their primitave labor-management policies.

We don't make this stuff up for entertainment value. It's funny how folks ask for first hand advice and then don't want to believe the answers they get.



Date: 06/15/06 05:30
Re: CSX Conductor schooling
Author: cota1992

I was sort of thinking of trying to get on with the Brunswick of DC conductor jobs after I found out I will be losing my current job in the next six weeks. But I was having second thoughts about the time away from home, I too drove truck 48 state and worked as a cowboy on a ranch and more then know about 100 hour work weeks, etc and that cost me my first marriage.
I have a one in a lifetime woman in my life now and we have only been married two years and after reading these posts from you railroaders it pretty much confirmed what I was thinking, I love my wife too much to want to risk everything for CSX so I will take a pass.
If I was single that would be one thing, but I have been lucky to have one "American Dream" job in my life already so why push it?
I just wanted you working guys who posted to know that at least one guy on here is listening.
Work safe
Art in DC

if anyone wants to know the realities of life on the ranch you can drop me a line, they are pretty similar to the train sim talk on another thread...it's one thing to go to to a dude ranch for a week and another to pull calves in February in a blizzard for a few days straight...



Date: 06/15/06 07:14
Re: CSX Conductor schooling
Author: palmland

Why don't you check out the online jobs at CSX.com then: careers-external applicants. Might be something there and you won't have spent $4000.



Date: 06/15/06 07:58
Re: CSX Conductor schooling
Author: bioyans

rbx551985 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------


> One
> question for everyone: if someone (anyone) takes
> those courses for $4G (another $1G is for all your
> personal expenses, which are NOT covered -- but
> I've heard stated when I've taken the qualifying
> tests myself), does PASSING the entire school make
> you eligible to work for any other RR besides just
> CSX?

Nope. In some instances, it might be a hinderance. For example, NS may likely think you need "deprogramming" of training that they weren't a part of, and need to be retrained on their methods. They often assume prospective employees from other railroads may already possess bad work and safety habits that are harder to break, than starting with a new candidate who has zero railroad experience.



Date: 06/15/06 09:30
Re: CSX Conductor schooling
Author: fmw

It has to be better than trucking over 48 states. At least you are never alone out there. If you hire out in the right place, where there is a hump yard, then you can work either the road or yard and mix it up a bit. I would think Birmingham, Atlanta, Waycross or Hamlet might be best if you want to stay in the Deep South. Don't forget NS, either.

Just take my advice and hire on in a large terminal, not a relay point, or you will be stuck doing the same run for 30 years.



Date: 06/15/06 09:53
Re: CSX Conductor schooling
Author: ESPEEFAN

What ever you do, do not, I repeat do not give up your CDL license. Its a never-ending job security unless the economy takes a dump. If you hire on the railroad and get laid-off, you have something else to fall back on. I always keep mine handy.



Date: 06/15/06 10:10
Re: CSX Conductor schooling
Author: palumbo27

Amen to keeping the CDL...I am planning on holding it for life...I still have my HAZMAT endorsement as well..The only thing I don't have is a up to date medical card but that can be gotten in 20 minutes.

As for the person who said that we ask for advice from railroaders and choose to ignore it becuase its not what we want to hear...I'd say you are wrong..I'd bet more people have been discouraged by reading these posts then people who actually hire out. Last week I basically had my mind made up...This week, I have 3rd and 4th guessed to the point where I have decided to not go to the June 30th testing session.

Does anyone on here work for the FEC who could tell me information on them? The NS has a very limited amount of trains into Jax really..I doubt they are hiring down here...And the short line up there in Fernandina Beach (First Coast RR) from what I understand is doing ok, but they aren't hiring people.



Date: 06/15/06 10:56
Re: CSX Conductor schooling
Author: ESPEEFAN

You might want to rethink about not going to the testing session. At least if you go and pass, you have one thing out of the way. Like FMW said above, hiring on a large terminal has lots of work available on both road and yard. I don't know how big the seniority district is down there but it must be of decent size for jobs in the area.

Don't get me wrong, I have no love for CSX and it's BULLS%*T but if that's one of the better paying jobs down there, then go where the money is. Remember the longer you wait, the more seniority you lose. As you've read on this website, SENIORITY IS EVERYTHING on the railroad.

Good luck in what ever you choose!

Former Gear-Grabber



Date: 06/15/06 11:48
Re: CSX Conductor schooling
Author: palumbo27

If I do go to the testing, and pass, but I say "well, I want to wait", would that be looked on unfavorably??



Date: 06/15/06 12:16
Re: CSX Conductor schooling
Author: IU_Tower

ESPEEFAN Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> What ever you do, do not, I repeat do not give up
> your CDL license. Its a never-ending job security
> unless the economy takes a dump. If you hire on
> the railroad and get laid-off, you have something
> else to fall back on. I always keep mine handy.



I agree.... I thought I wanted a job on the RR until I found my current job. Now I'm driving a 15,000 gallon tanker fueling airlines. Easy as hell and only an 8 hour day.



Date: 06/15/06 14:13
Re: CSX Conductor schooling
Author: csx4798

csxengineer Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> from what i here is worse in the south mostly
> short pools (under 130 miles), with many terminals
> having pools that work like a triangle. e.g.
> cincinnati-corbin-hazard-cincinnati. i here theirs
> one like that out of waycross. if thats true and
> you catch one of those jobs your going to be gone
> 3-4 days and back home only 8- 12 hours.
>
> at least in the north and midwest they have
> 150,200-300 mile pools on double track and you do
> have a chance to have a better trip.
>
> along with the thought of them owning you, unless
> your single with no kids. not to mention being on
> call, when i'm 1st or 2nd out theirs no use for me
> to even get in bed i'll be awake all night. and
> usually that's when happens is when i'm not called
> for 15 hours and could have gotten a good sleep.
> so these are all things you have to think about.
>
> you can't even begin to know what it's like until
> you look out of the cab window, and not into it.


I've talked to an engineer down south before The triangle is for the crews based out of Savanah GA with that being Savanah - Jax Fl and Waycross GA



Date: 06/15/06 14:15
Re: CSX Conductor schooling
Author: BL2-50

palumbo27 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> If I do go to the testing, and pass, but I say
> "well, I want to wait", would that be looked on
> unfavorably??

I don't think it makes any difference from the viewpoint of the school... they'll just keep you on the list. CSXT doesn't really get involved until you are in the course. Also keep in mind they might not actually hold a class for a year or so anyway. In theory they don't hold classes until CSXT can actually hire the number of people in the class for a particular terminal, and it says right here in this forum that some terminals may be furloughing conductors. However I don't think the railroad likes to get too far behind the 8 ball with conductor hiring because the attrition rate of new conductors can be high, especially during furloughs. So I think it's difficult to predict conductor classes based on furloughs. Also I believe CSXT isn't against furloughing new conductors right after they first mark-up. Since you haven't made-up your mind yet, as some insurance I recommend taking the tests -- they don't charge very much, maybe $25 or so. It will probably be just a reading test, the standard psychological test and a basic color blindness screening. They also ask you to provide some basic background on the course application which is not checked-out (possibly they show these course applications to CSXT before they send out course acceptance letters... I don't know), but there will be a background check after you apply for CSXT during the course.



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