Prolly not relevant, but when I hired out in the 70's, I never even HEARD of "NARS" or other so-called railroad training "schools". My first day on that "wonderful, romantic (NOT!), exciting railroad the railfans drool over in the magazines? Pulling out old hydraulic cylinders, pumps. motors and other parts from a box car. I was shown which cart to put them on to take them to the steam cleaning area. It was some of the GREASIEST, FILTHIEST, NASTIEST, GRIMY work I had EVER done!!
At the end of the day I was a grease booger not fit to sit in my car to drive home! I put newspapers down in the car so I could drive home.
Over the years, the railroad TRAINED me to do whatever job they wanted me to do! I started as the lowliest of the low: a storehouse laborer. I sorted out parts, followed an old electric crane around the 'yard loading stock rail, frogs, and switch packs into gons. I UNLOADED rail and switch packs from deep gons. Summer was ROUGH down inside those gons. They had often been "humped", breaking the banding and scattering the parts all over---all of which you had to pick up and put on another pallet while the crane operator pressed a FEW buttons and YOU sweated until you were WET!
Eventually proving I was a reliable and not-so-dumb "laborer", they decided I was fit for better things, so they trained me as a clerk. NOW I could sit in a office. Eventually, they sent me to McDonough, Ga to train as a line-of-road clerk. THAT'S where the REAL railroadin' began! Waybills, demurrage, weights & rates, and train orders. I was on the Extra Board. You want to know WHERE I actually learned to DO the jobs? ON the JOB, THAT'S WHERE!! Even "railroad boot camp" (I called it) didn't prepare me for much of the actual jobs because they were, while similar, DIFFERENT EVEN WORKING AT DIFFERENT YARDS!!!! No two rate clerk jobs were the same. No two train order offices were identical! If you had not "cubbed" the job (sitting in with the incumbent), you were LOST as lost can be!!!! One job I was "lost" on was Ticket Agent. Railroad training school had not prepared me for it and I had NO clue. That week they had TWO of us Extra Clerks stumbling over each other trying to work the computer and generate tickets for the passenger trains. Now THAT was a SIGHT! Even the passengers were laughing at us!!!! I got thrown onto a mobile agent's job off the 'board and had NEVER been prepared for it. IF I had not been familiar with the town, knew where the customers were from the list, I couldn''t have handled it. And it was a BUSY, BUSY time during which I obviously made mistakes. I(None that got me run off, tho)
But the Trainmaster who looked over my work said that he didn't see HOW I did so well having never even "cubbed" the job.
Now somebody has convinced people that they can go take some silly little course and VOILA: I'M THIS HERE WELL-TRAINED, "EXPERIENCED' RAILROAD MAN/WOMAN WHOSE READY TO SAFELY OPERATE TRAINS, MOVE FREIGHT OVER THE ROAD, AN' I DID IT BY SHELLING OUT $4000 FOR THIS LITTLE-COURSE-IN-A-NUTSHELL. I don't mean to be nasty or harsh, but it took ME years to learn this stuff and it didn't take 6 weeks of bad food and lumpy mattresses to do it!
The real reason for courses like this is to move money from YOUR pockets to THEIRS!!!!!!
There's a sucker born every minute and P.T Barnum proved it over 100 years ago!!!! And it appllies to clerks, conductors, engineers, or any trainman as well. You can't just take a "course" and walk out on the ROW and start railroadin', IMHO!
I am NO expert, but I believe these courses are pure HORSESH--, and you would be better off with OJT; the railroad is going to do it ANYWAY! Concentrate on getting hired, become a willing student, and LEARN how to do the job THEIR way!!!! Not from some expensive, encapsulated little course that makes you THINK you can do the job. If the RR wants to send you to some "school", let' em do it on THEIR dime! Honestly, if I
were a hiring officer, and I had a "green" applicant who knows nothing (or he ain't sayin' so) and one of these "NARS" folks proudly flashing their "diploma" at me, I'd hire the GREEN guy!!! SAVE your money!