• BNSF PHX and Chicago terminals

  • Discussion related to BNSF operations. Official site: BNSF.COM
Discussion related to BNSF operations. Official site: BNSF.COM

Moderator: Komachi

  by specialk1213
Good afternoon everyone. New member here. I posted this on the UP thread as well as I applied for the same train crew positions with both companies. I just applied for train crew position for Phoenix and Chicago. Looking through previous post it appears that the terminal you applied for may not be the terminal you are based after training? (If I understood that right) Curious if there are any members on here that are currently in either of these terminals and what the outlook is like at those bases. I currently live in PHX but would be willing to move to Chicago where the fiance's family is. Is there ever a reason that you are forced to move to another terminal (Even though you do not want to) or is it only if you bid for it?
  by rch
You will not be forced to any terminal other than the one you hire out of as a conductor with BNSF. You may not be able to hold a position at the terminal you hire out of, so you may then choose to go to another terminal to work. At terminals where BNSF is short manpower, lodging and meal pay may be offerred to entice crew from other terminals to work there. BNSF conductors have system-wide seniority, excluding the territory roughly from Minnesota to Washington, so if you hire out of Phoenix, you can work in Chicago, Houston, Denver or Kansas City, among many other terminals, once you are qualified at the new terminal. Getting qualified at the new terminal is called familiarization, which consists of taking a prescribed number of trips and working a series of yard/local/road switcher jobs to experience the new territory. Depending on need at the terminal and your ability to hold a job at your regular terminal, you may or may not be paid to take these familiarization trips.

The one instance of forcing I am aware of (for conductors anyway, it's different for engineers) is that some terminals will hire conductors under a Primary Recall agreement, which stipulates that for the term of the agreement (5 years), should manpower needs dictate, you can be recalled to your home terminal from where you are currently working. For example, you hire out of Houston under a Primary Recall agreement. After six months, you can't hold a job there, but you can in Oklahoma City. So you move to OKC and begin working for 4 years without a problem. Traffic picks up in Houston while you are away and suddenly conductors are needed there. You receive a notification that you have been recalled to Houston and must report to work there in 72 hours. Until the manpower situation is taken care of by new hires or reduction in traffic, you will be held to your recall terminal.
  by specialk1213
Thank you for the reply RCH. Much appreciated and that clears things up :) I did apply for the Primary Recall, Chicago position, however Phoenix is my #1 choice now since the fiance vetoed Chicago right now. Application windows have closed so just waiting for the hiring process to begin.
  by Engineer Spike
Chicago is an expensive place to live. There are many other terminals within a few hours drive if she changes her mind, but you guys don't want to live too close to the outlaws (in-laws). Places like Ft. Madison, IA, Beardstown, Centralia or Galesburg, IL are a couple of hours away, but cheaper places to live.

One other advantage is the large number of terminals within close proximity. If you get cut off in one, the other is not too far off. I don't know how far the next major terminal is from Phoenix. Believe me, with the way our recent economy has been like a yo yo, you should have as many card up your sleeve as possible.