My question is WHY is it so important to be in train service? I'm not getting on your case; it is simply a question. Why not take the track maintenance position and see how you like it. Sometimes it is easier to get hired/transferred from WITHIN the company that it is to get on "cold turkey." After all, if you establish a good employee record in one department, it gives you an "edge" and many companies are good at transferring people to new jobs and crafts. That's how I got into the clerks craft many years ago. I hired in as a laborer and then got cut off after 3 years. (Southern Railway) I had a good work record and (not to brag at all), but was known to the supervisors as a good, willing worker.
They offered me a relief clerk's job at the SAME facility off the furloughed list and it happened to be "single-point" seniority so no line of road clerk could bump me. It was a temporary position, but allowed me to work as a vacation relief clerk about all year. When something came open, the Chief Clerk at the yard called me one day and told me to "pack my bags, yer going to McDonough, GA to train as a Line of Road clerk"! I did not refuse and, as a result, I had a long career on Norfolk Southern.
Consider this: While you are turning down jobs, you could be accruing retirement credits and vacation days in craft that (sometimes) can be rolled into the new craft (depends on the union and job rules that apply to the new position.) Next, you MAY
shooting yourself in the foot without knowing it as the SAME employment people that offered the positions you turned down might be the SAME people offering the new job as well. They may, or may not, remember you and skip over you thinking you are not a serious candidate. TAKE what's offered if you are serious about working in the railroad industry. If you are one of those "foamers" that just thinks he "wanted to work on the railroad" all his life" and you just GOTTA work with 'them thar trains or bust', you might want to forget about it. There is FAR more to the railroad industry than "choo choos and brave engineers" (or conductors).
If you think being in T & E service is some sort of easy job where you just sit and ride the train, better think again. Railroad work is TOUGH work if only for the crazy hours, disruptive lifestyle, and WORSE, the horrific pressure that RR workers face from many managers who are looking to run you off if you look at them crooked. Most any railroad job is not exactly a free ride! Depending on the company and the people in charge, you may find yourself being put on the ground for the least infraction--things YOU might think don't mean beans. But many railroad employees, particularly in T & E service carry what we called "whammy" on NS; IOW, employment insurance that pays why you are out of service--also was called "run-off" insurance. It ain't no easy life. Just ask the other guys and, of course, your mileage may vary. If you are truly willing to put up with ALL the railroad offers(?), then go for it! If you get into T & E service on the first try, GREAT!
If they offer you something, TAKE it now and try to transfer later. That's MY advice (well, you DID ask!!!!) LOL!
Good luck whatever.
retiree--Norfolk Southern Corp