Train Conductors are in charge of driving and operating trains and other forms of fixed-railing vehicles in order to transport passengers and cargo from one location to another. The trains they operate can run on fuel oil, diesel, steam, or electricity; and the distances covered can vary from within a city’s limits to interstate and international routes.
Trains running inside cities or metropolitan areas are usually part of the city’s urban transportation systems and are widely known as subways. The Conductors operating them are hired by the city’s municipal government. Trains running from one city to another, whether on different states or countries, are usually managed by private transportation companies with their own Conductors. Furthermore, trains covering long distances are usually driven by more than one conductor, so they can switch tasks in order to avoid fatigue and provide assistance to each other.
Operating a train requires the Conductor to follow certain signs, orders, and follow strict laws and regulations designed to ensure time and energy efficiency and, above all, passenger safety. All train activities must be thoroughly calculated and coordinated in order to prevent accidents which could lead to disastrous consequences.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Train Conductors are required to complete.
- Operating train engines:
- Transporting passengers and cargo between stations;
- receiving and interpreting information from headquarters, acting according to signals and orders;
- starting the engine when signaled;
- following procedures to stop at a station;
- operating train doors to let passengers in and out;
- following tight time schedules;
- switching tasks with the Second Conductor to avoid fatigue; and
- wearing protective equipment, if required.
- Inspecting locomotive and systems prior to departure:
- Checking all systems are functioning;
- verifying fuel, air, and water levels;
- testing break systems;
- checking each passenger car; and
- reporting any malfunction or obstacle on the railroad track.
- Supervising the loading and unloading of cargo and boarding and unloading of passengers.
- Good physical condition and stamina:
- Being able to endure long routes;
- enduring different types of climate and weather conditions; and
- having the necessary physical strength to operate a vehicle, as well as to load and unload packages.
- Being aware of train systems and following security measures during journeys:
- Monitoring lights indicating systems’ condition;
- monitoring gauges to check temperature, amperage, fuel, air, and water;
- observing railways to identify possible obstructions;
- checking vehicle speed and location;
- watching out for dashboard and railway signals; and
- stopping the train by using the air brake valve, only when necessary.
- Responding accordingly to emergency situations and breakdowns:
- Reporting incidents to train masters;
- assisting passengers with evacuation procedures when necessary;
- following procedures and instructions in case of emergencies; and
- performing minor repairs on the train, if possible.
- Checking train condition prior to departure and monitoring all systems during journeys.
- Liaising with station and headquarters personnel to check schedules and cargo list.
- Making announcements to passengers regarding stops and schedules.
- Observing tracks for possible obstructions and looking out for route signals.
- Relaying information to stations and headquarters.
- Monitoring train speed and location to adhere to schedules.
- Following procedure and adhering to laws and regulations at all times.
The average salary for Train Conductor related jobs is $39,372 per year or $20 per hour. This is around 1.4 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $28,000 while most experienced workers make up to $55,000. These results are based on 87 salaries extracted from job descriptions.
- Excellent interpersonal and communication skills:
- Interacting and making announcements to passengers;
- liaising with station personnel and headquarters;
- relaying information, as well as receiving and following instructions;
- having an ear for languages, especially in touristic places; and
- working in tandem with an assistant.
- Exceptional mechanical and operating skills:
- Displaying outstanding levels of alertness so as to be aware of their surroundings, as well as to be able to identify and prevent risks and avoid accidents;
- monitoring the status of the train and conducting regular check-ups; and
- being able to perform minor mechanical maintenance or repair tasks, as needed.
- Possessing high levels of self-reliance and resourcefulness:
- Working alone most of the time; and
- responding to problems in a timely and efficient manner.
- Strong observational and problem-solving skills:
- Understanding and interpreting signs; and
- following procedures to avoid emergencies.
- Excellent physical condition and stamina:
- Being able to endure long journeys;
- staying alert and awake during late hours while operating a train;
- being comfortable when working at heights;
- having excellent sight and hearing; and
- having the necessary physical strength to operate a train.
- Great stress and time management skills:
- Working according to pre-established schedules; and
- arriving at stations in a timely manner.
- Good interpersonal and communication skills:
- Interacting with passengers;
- liaising with employers and customers; and
- being able to provide passengers with accurate information.
- Good mathematical skills:
- Calculating hours of departure and arrival; and
- monitoring train location and speed.
- High levels of honesty, integrity, and reliability.
Train Conductors are hired mainly by municipal transportation systems within cities and private transportation companies between different cities, states, or countries. When applying for this job, the basic educational requirements may vary depending on the employer. However, applicants generally need to have a high school diploma, clean driver’s license and criminal records, be at least 18 years old, and speak English fluently.
Even though experience is not a fixed requirement, some companies are more likely to prefer those professionals who have at least 2 years of college or those who have working experience in any related field, as well as former militaries, since they are considered to be more skilled.
After meeting the previous requirements, and in order to obtain a certificate as Railroad Conductor Technology, applicants need to complete a training course, which are usually offered by a community college or a technical school. On-the-job training takes place right after finishing this part of the educational sessions.
Train Conductors are often expected to work 40 hours weekly; however, they are likely to distribute those hours throughout the week. As a result, they will work late night hours, as well as weekends, holidays, and vacations. Conductors operating trains traveling between cities or states must be able to endure long hours of work as the journeys can be long and exhaustive.