New member in Jacksonville, FL is a free online Railroad Discussion Forum and Railroad Photo Gallery for railroaders, railfans, model railroaders and anyone else who is interested in railroads. We cover a wide variety of topics, including freight trains, passenger and commuter railroads, rail news and information, tourist railroads, railway museums and railroad history.


New Member
Hello everyone, I've been following this site for several months and finally decided to join so I could ask some questions.

I've chosen to use the name of the legendary John Charles Cohen, who was a greater conductor than Leonard Berstein! :D

My dream, ever since I was a little kid growing on alongside the ICRR tracks (home of the even more legendary Casy Jones, distantly related to J.C. Cohen) in Clinton Illinois, was to be an engineer on the Green Diamond. No one understood. Everyone told me I had to have years and years of math and science to be an engineer...and for many years, I didn't understand. :confused: Over the years I did well in school, excelled in math and science, and held some pretty important jobs, mostly in upper management...but never on the railroad. So here I am half a century later, ready to retire from my position as CEO of Florida Public Telephone Company, and still trying to get behind the throttle of a real locomotive.

I had to be persistent just to gain admission to this site. Before accepting my registration, I had to answer the test question, "Trains run on a Railroad _________. (hint: begins with T___" I answered, "Track", and I was sure I was right, but I was shot down with an error message that my answer was wrong. Fortunately they gave me another, less technical questlon ("What is two plus two?" Well, my years studying math in college paid off, and I got that one right (otherwise I wouldn't be here now). But I'm really curious now, what DO trains run on that starts with "T" but isn't track? :confused: Anybody know?

I submitted a number of applications to several local railroads (CSX, NS, G&W, FEC) for a conductor position, as I'm told that's a necessary first step to becoming an engineer. But I never hear anything back, and I'm wondering if my age is an impenetrable barrier. :mad: The G&W is always advertising for switchmen, apparently ignoring all the applications I've already sent in. It looks as though they have a high turnover, so you would think they'd be happy to find a goal-oriented employee with a history of sticking with each job for 10 or 12 years (not to mention a proven "track record" if you'll pardon the expression). The only thing I know to do, is to show up at their Fernandina office in person and make sure they understand I am serious and determined. :eek: Can anybody give me any advice or help here?


Railfan Railroader
My story is somewhat similar ever since I was a little kid I wanted to be an engineer on the railroad. When I was 18 I almost got hired by the N&W railroad as they were needing brakeman at the time. The economy slowed down later that same year and that ended my chance of hiring on in 1979. I managed to land a job with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation as a highway equipment operator and worked there for 30 years and 4 months. I still wanted to work for a railroad someday. The more I thought about it I came up with the idea of working for a shortline railroad, in some cases there are museums or tourist railroads that use volunteers as train crew employee's. And this is where the AC&J Railroad entered into my plan, I worked part time for the AC&J for about 6 years and was qualified as one of their locomotive engineers along with doing conductor work such as switching cars and working their excursion passenger on the weekends. The AC&J railroad has a total of 6 route miles this was a perfect railroad to gain some railroad experience in my case. Now moving to my present day circumstances before I retired from the Highway Department my wife and I had plans to relocate to my wife's home state of Texas. I began searching for shortline railroads in the area we were moving to. And I did fine one and put an application in with the Blacklands Railroad. The Blacklands Railroad that I became part of has 76 miles of track. At the moment we have 4 train crew employee's. I was number 4 on the roster when I started. Two of the men moved on to other jobs, one of them went to work for another railroad in Oklahoma, one man left for another job and he is also trying to get hired on the Union Pacific the other man is now our full time trainmaster. As I mentioned when I started I was number 4 on the roster now I am number 1 on the roster and as I tell the owner of the railroad it is the Best Job I have ever had. I started out as a conductor and now I am an engineer every day 5 or 6 days a week. Another reason I personally like shortline railroads is that you are home just about every night and we have set hours, class one railroads for new hires work you any time during a 24 hour period and you are on call seven days a week. From what I hear on the class one railroads you will start out as a conductor and in 2 or 3 years you will receive training as an engineer. Hopefully this information helps two other things I would like to mention, one is it doesn't hurt to be persistent keep checking back thats how I landed my job with the Blacklands Railroad and the last thing I was 49 years old when I started with the Blacklands Railroad now I am 51. Any other questions feel free to ask, there are also other railroad employees that visit this site.


New Member

Thanks for the encouragement! CSX is hiring again, so I just submitted a new application for "conductor" to them. I'm 61, which is undoubtedly more daunting to a RR than 49 was. But I have the motivation to stick with them longer than the average new-hire.

You mention the importance of being persistent and checking back with them. Can I do that with a big company like CSX that does everything online? I really don't know how to contact them or who to cantact. Do you have any suggestions? is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to - An online railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used railroad books. Railroad pictorials, railroad history, steam locomotives, passenger trains, modern railroading. Hundreds of titles available, most at discount prices! We also have a video and children's book section. - An online model railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used books. Layout design, track plans, scenery and structure building, wiring, DCC, Tinplate, Toy Trains, Price Guides and more.

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