Hello, Right now when you get hired on as a conductor trainee you get your paid training (pay is somewhere around $850 a week toward the end of your training, I dont follow the conductor contracts that much anymore so I dont know what it is exactly). After you mark up most places are short of guys so you probably wont get furloughed, if you do you can chase the work around but for the most part the bonuses for transferring attract seniority. Texas did take a bunch of conductors last year with a pretty good bonus but they are stuck for three years before being able to return to their home terminal. Some of the guys who went there were engineers working on the ground (ground hogs) who cant transfer their seniority unless they want to go to the bottom of the senoirity roster (SENIORITY IS EVERYTHING!!!!!!!!! on the railroad).
Its a good job for someone who is just starting out, but but remember BNSF = Better Not Start Family. The pay is good (especially since the conductors extraboards are paying alot more than the engineers extraboards), the hours are hard sometimes and the weather will always suck (yes even in California). The training is the same as the guys who are paying a RR college, and you are guaranteed a job, even if you get furloughed,.... eventually. The training just gets you ready to start learning your job...you wont be worth a damn for a year or two and you will know it.
If you decide to go with it, remember that most of the rules were written in blood. Its not the same RR that the oldheads hired out with, its changed alot even since I hired out, rules compliance is priority over customer service. Your number one job is to go home everyday. Good luck.