• How to be a locomotive engineer for NS?

  • Discussion relating to the NS operations. Official web site can be found here: NSCORP.COM.
Discussion relating to the NS operations. Official web site can be found here: NSCORP.COM.
  by Rob94hawk
I'm sure you've heard this a million times from kids but my son is very interested in becoming a loco engineer for NS. He's very determined and already has an A average in High School. We are from Long Island, NY and we've been to Horseshoe Curve a few times already. What are the requirements? Advise? Much appreciated!
  by Dewoc19
Requirements.... hire out, thats basically it.... once you become a conductor you are forced to engine school in seniority order from your hire date, so no going before everyone hired before you has gone. You fail though and you are terminated ON THE SPOT
  by Rob94hawk
Thanks for the heads up! So basically a college education is not required?
  by Dewoc19
Not at all, all he needs to do is have a HS diploma and a drivers license
  by lvrr325
When they're hiring you go to the meeting, you take the test, they tell you if you pass or not, you may or may not get hired out.

He should plan to have little to no social life for 5-10 years until he builds enough seniority to hold a position that works somewhat regular hours.
  by trvr815
It is difficult to get on with class 1 RRs. He may look at the military, the NARA program in I think Kansas or starting with a short line RR near your home after he graduates high school to build experience.
  by bretylium
I have college (4 yr) and military experience, I firmly believe the military was what got me hired with NS. It took me one application, one hiring session and interview and I was hired. They like ex military, I think I was only one with military in my hiring session they told me later.

Don't join to be an engineer simply because you like trains or are a buff- it's not as glamorous as it seems and you will be doing nothing but working 24/7 with 10 hrs off between shifts. There are lots of rules and you can be fired just as quick as you are hired even if you have 20 years in....us rail workers don't like buffs they are distracted by the trains and it's dangerous
  by Autoblock
Having said that there are a lot of buffs that work for the railroad! lol
  by gp80mac
Autoblock wrote:Having said that there are a lot of buffs that work for the railroad! lol
And the people that complain about buffs the loudest are usually the biggest closet buffs themselves.
  by lvrr325
I tried to get on with NS in Binghamton and the first time, they couldn't even get the location right for the test; the ad said it was in Binghamton, I use Google maps to show me where, get there and find out it's actually down the highway another 20 minutes in some resort. When those online maps can't find the address, they just gave you the center of town....

When I finally got into a test with CSX, they actually gave preference to a guy who'd been laid off by Penn Central. Not sure what good it does them to hire a guy who's going to retire again in 10 or 15 years tops. I had a connection or two there and it didn't help me, and then my one buddy got hurt and CSX screwed him over on the settlement, so I kind of lost interest in working for them.

The test is not hard if you have some common sense and were a halfway decent student.

If you do get hired out, you have to go to a training school where you learn to become a conductor. Eventually as they have need you may get trained as an engineer. After that working depends on what jobs you can bid to with your seniority - the less you have, the less regular your hours and the crappier the positions.

My buddy had a decent job as a clerk - which meant he drove a truck around the yard bringing crews back and forth to trains, or bringing the train paperwork back and forth. It had relatively regular M-F hours and was easy for him to bid into because the pay was lower, so it was less desirable a position.

I also know a guy who got hired as one of Conrail's last in prep for NS's taking over - and he got hurt, too, busted his knee up in the snow. Railroading can be a dangerous job - I also know guys who've retired and are fine, but there have been guys hurt and even a few killed over the last dozen or so years up here.