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Eastern Railroad Discussion > Crew Van Drivers

Date: 01/23/03 16:21
Crew Van Drivers
Author: trainman1977

Hello all. Does anybody know how to contact CSX or
Norfolk Southern to find out if they are looking for crew van drivers?

Thanks for your help.


Date: 01/23/03 16:25
Re: Crew Van Drivers
Author: southernva

The crew van drivers are employed by private companies, like Cimmeron, Retzenburger, and other local cab companies. It depends what city you are in. If you ever happen to see a crew van, i would ask the diver if his company is hiring, and the names of other companies in the area.

Date: 01/23/03 18:00
Re: Crew Van Drivers
Author: CSX_CO

Turn over rate at these companies is something else (probably higher then the RR itself), so they are always looking for drivers. Probably because of the low pay, long hours, and constant screwing the drivers take from their company.

If you have ANY other options for employment, I would highly suggest pursuing them, and only look to the crew van companies as a last effort.

Now, if you are looking for summer employment, might be worth while. But, from what I hear (having an aquaintance being let go for this reason), they don\'t tolerate railfans while on duty. If you get caught taking pictures, you may be asked to give up the camera, or the job. Which is too bad for him, he was the best driver I\'d ever ridden with.

Practice Safe CSX

Date: 01/23/03 18:39
Re: Crew Van Drivers
Author: toledopatch

It\'s a shame they\'re so hostile to railfans, because the non-fan drivers often seem to have problems finding their way around railroad property, whereas the fans know where everyplace is.

I\'ve heard the same thing about long hours, low pay, and poor treatment, too. Don\'t make a career out of driving a crew van.

Date: 01/23/03 18:46
Re: Crew Van Drivers
Author: locoengineer

Not to make this any more depressing, but not only do the working conditions for these folks suck, the vans are often poorly maintained and the drivers can go unpaid for weeks. Often the companies aren\'t getting paid too quickly by the RR and pass that along to the drivers.

Look for a RR job if you want to work on the RR> I hear that NS is hiring...


Date: 01/23/03 18:51
Re: Crew Van Drivers
Author: vrsfan

You simply don\'t tell them you\'re a railfan when you hire! Hell, 2 years ago when I hired out I never said a word other than the simple fact I always wanted to work for the railroad since I was like 5 years old - sort of equivalating it to the level of wanting to be a police officer or professional fireman.

As far as crew drivers go, we still have about a half-dozen here in Allentown, 4 of which are due to retire in 2003. The NS abolished most the clerks (drivers) positions in the Harrisburg area, and they are replacing them with Retzenberger\'s services - which as Dave mentioned, don\'t know their ass from a hole in the ground when it comes to certain p/u and drop-off locations, or how to get into them when they DO know of the location. Renz drivers around here make no more than $7/hour, and they are the shift yard drivers. The road drivers were making about $6/hour plus mileage. Unless deadheads are running good, you won\'t make any good money whatsoever.

Date: 01/23/03 20:34
Re: Crew Van Drivers
Author: mderrick

I looked into a job with PTI, CSX\'s contract van service in Atlanta, after getting laid off last year. Thought it might be a neat way to "kinda sorta" have a RR job for a bit. Well, let me tell you it wasn\'t hardly worth looking into. They were hiring, alright....for $5.15 an hour and no mileage for a local shuttle driver (which they didn\'t even have openings for) and get this: over the road drivers were assigned a van and a pager. You were on call 24 HOURS 6 DAYS A WEEK with ONE HOUR to get to the pick up point if local. Think it was 5 MINUTES allowed to return page from dispatcher. Oh yeah, what did this pay? TEN CENTS A MILE WITH NO BASE SALARY!!!! $5.25 an hour wait time was little consolation. Quick math will tell you TEN THOUSAND miles a month would be needed to make a thousand dollars. The guy doing the hiring was straight up and I appreciated that. He didn\'t try to trick me into the position...he flat out told me I wouldn\'t want it. He said he was constantly on the company to pay more to help him keep drivers but they wouldn\'t. Said the only people that really worked out were retired folks with nothing else to do that didn\'t want to make enough money to interfere with their social security check.

If you\'re still interested, the employment phone number is usually on the back of the van.

Mike Derrick

Date: 01/23/03 23:28
Re: Crew Van Drivers
Author: NORAC

I have to agree with the above responses....it is a dead end job.....sometimes we get a good driver....but they are few and far between some of the characters that take the job.....which always leaves one crewmember awake to keep an eye on the driver.

Date: 01/24/03 05:32
Re: Crew Van Drivers
Author: wabash2800

NORAC wrote:

> I have to agree with the above responses....it is a dead end
> job.....sometimes we get a good driver....but they are few and
> far between some of the characters that take the job.....which
> always leaves one crewmember awake to keep an eye on the
> driver.

Sure is nice to put your life in someone elses hands isn\'t it?--someone that\'s underpaid etc., etc...

Date: 01/24/03 05:47
Re: Crew Van Drivers
Author: oscar_manheim

I\'ve often thought that riding in the crew van is the most dangerous part of our job...worse than switching cars in the ice and snow or bringing 10,000 tons of junk freight down the hill with no dynamics, etc...

Cumberland, MD

Date: 01/24/03 07:40
Re: Crew Van Drivers
Author: n01jd1

wabash2800 wrote:

> Sure is nice to put your life in someone elses hands isn\'t
> it?--someone that\'s underpaid etc., etc...
> [%sig%]

Thats your "don\'t pay em\' any more than they are worth" mentality of big business today. Hey if you were getting paid $5.15- $7.00 an hour and no benefits you wouldnt care about your job either.

Date: 01/24/03 09:32
Re: School Bus Drivers
Author: Lackawanna484

Same situation occurs there. Our school district fired the school bus company for another willing to do the same work for $25,000 a year less. That\'s about $700 a week during the school year.

Two guesses where the savings are gonna come from: one is maintenance, the other is salary.

Date: 01/24/03 12:12
Re: Crew Van Drivers
Author: wabash2800

n01jd1 wrote:

> >
> Thats your "don\'t pay em\' any more than they are worth"
> mentality of big business today. Hey if you were getting paid
> $5.15- $7.00 an hour and no benefits you wouldnt care about
> your job either.

I agree but as long as people are willing to work those conditions for those wages, nothing will change.

Date: 01/24/03 13:49
Re: Crew Van Drivers
Author: rbx551985

Okay, I\'m finally weighing in on this thread. I used to work for a van service in Richmond (you may have read previous entires I\'ve made on this subject at To.com). Before I worked for them, everyone on the RR knew me, so it was easy for me to go in as a pre-known railfan. What kept me on this job for 3 years was that I kept a good attitude: treating EVERY employee as if they were the railroad\'s owners. I really did. What actually did me in during a return to the company in April 2002 was that the company lost their contract to another van company. The carrier requested several people (myself included) be retained by the newer firm, but the new company wanted their own people from out of state (who\'d never been to Virginia before) so I wasn\'t invited to stay either. HMMPH!

IF YOU REALLY WANT TO TRY THIS TYPE OF JOB, do so. Just be keenly aware that the hours and pay-rates are exactly as what is described in the above threads. It will NOT make you a living, but may keep you fed and housed (some liken it to a retirement pay-rate). If you have a good driving record, don\'t mind the low pay and being paged to go out on the road 24/7 -- AND I TRULY MEAN 24/7 -- then go for it.

I was astonished at some of the places we drove. Some were frightening, some were frustrating, and others were a pure railfan thrill.


Frightening -- driving ON the roadbed along CSX\'s Peninsula sub to a place called "DIANO," in the woods, 2 miles from the nearest street, to relieve a hog-lawed CSX crew that took 12 hours to get their train 49 miles through massive route congestion (and hearing an Amtrak train approaching from your rear, around a blind curve, while driving the van on a part of the RR ballast that used to be double tracked, but now is only one track...)

Frustrating -- sitting for HOURS in rush-hour traffic while the whole RR is waiting on the two crews YOU have in your van, to get two hogged south-bound freights sitting at COLEMAN MILL road blocking BOTH mains on the RF&P, and the south-bound Palm is stopped behind them... With the van\'s radio tuned to the RR frequency, you have to explain to the C.Q. dispatcher just how far you are from the site...

PURE THRILL -- being allowed into places NO ONE is allowed to go, even after 09-11-01, and knowing the railroaders know that YOU know exactly how to get where they need to go, and having the ability to allow your crew to sleep knowing they\'ll get where they\'re going in one piece, or having some crews actually REQUEST you be their driver, or have CSX ask you to take a lone E.O.T.D. from Richmond, VA to Columbia, SC, knowing the south-bound Silver Star is only an hour behind you all the way... or seeing the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, "CVN-65," sitting in dock beside the Belt Line RR lift-bridge at Berkeley yard in Norfolk, knowing you\'re not only a railfan, but also a Star Trek fan...

And that\'s only the tip of the iceberg. Just imagine it all, knowing EXACTLY why certain trains are sitting around, and knowing EXACTLY when they\'ll get their crews...


I personally racked up 100,000+ miles a year for each of the 3 full years I drove for this company, and have the mileage records to prove it! We drove mainly for CSX, but also made a LOT of runs for Norfolk Southern, Amtrak, and Virginia Railway Express. Trips took me all over the state\'s rail network, and also to spots such as Philadelphia, Baltimore, Brunswick, D.C., Rocky Mount, Durham, Hamlet, Raleigh, Florence & Columbia, SC, and also places all over North Carolina and West Virginia! SO BE PREPARED. It might be a bit more than you imagine it to be.

THE MOST IMPORTANT effort you could make in such a job is to place those you carry in your van higher than yourself, SAFETY FIRST NO MATTER WHAT, and to be extremely patient. All three of those atributes I feel are of equal importance.

My reccommendations: take along a good still camera and plenty of film, but do the work first, and if you happen to be on a trip and have the time BEFORE picking up or AFTER dropping off your crews, then get some good shots. I was constantly amazed at what I witnessed every single day.

Every single person I ever carried was interesting and fun to be around, and I learned SO much from them all, including some who post here at TO.com. Keep a smile on your face, even if one of them is cranky -- that goes along with the territory. Remember, this is a type of job that has a lot of "hurry up and wait" in it. Take along the most recent issue of your favorite RR magazine, and hold that good attitude in your heart, and you\'ll remain in demand.

Oh yeah -- always maintain the courage to say "NO" to your van dispatcher, should you be too tired to drive, even when the RR is so congested that there aren\'t enough drivers to go around for all of the vans the carrier is requesting they need to move their crews! SAFETY FIRST has a lot of depth to its meaning.

I hope your crew van driving carrier, should it come to fruition, is a success. I hope it really is.

Date: 01/24/03 16:51
Re: Crew Van Drivers
Author: lahogger

Out here in SoCal, we got an outfit called Milepost and they go through drivers like c**p through a goose. Several times crews hav had to take over for the driver because they can\'t stay awake. These people have absolutely little/no supervision which makes it a loust situation. If you pay $5-$6 an hour, don\'t expect much.

Date: 01/25/03 08:06
Re: Crew Van Drivers
Author: rbx551985

Now, THAT kind of situation should be reported to the FRA immediately. It was a problem at the company I worked for, but apparently not as bad as the previous post describes. It should be noted that this is a problem also for ALL of the other van services that my company worked with all over this region of the middle-eastern US, and there were (and still are) several. I really don\'t like the "you get what you pay for" mentality, but it does come to mind, from my perspective. My ultimate take on that? There MUST be plenty of men and women with good driving records out there who would be just fine with the hours and the pay -- if the industry would just face up to it, find the COURAGE to admit and correct it, and make some sort of announcement or advertisement for "better" drivers that those who don\'t say "NO" to a dispatcher when they truly need more rest.

Possibilities? How about retired folks who don\'t make enough in retirement to pay for living expenses AND any medical needs? ...Or retired railroaders who just can\'t get enough of the industry they knew and worked for so many years... There must be many ways to define the parameters.

And then we musn\'t forget all of the good drivers out there who are doing a good job, in spite of the conditions. There are many.

There are always possibilities.

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