Second interview for RailAmerica, San Joaqin Valley Railroad 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.


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Hi, I am a complete "noob" to the railroad field, (just have a friend who used to work for UP) I have a construction background. I am scheduled for a second interview with the San Joaqin Valley railroad for a conductor/engineer position, and just had a few questions if that is alright.

What is the average length of time (assuming there is one) that it takes for someone with no prior experience to become certified as a conductor then engineer?

How possible is it to transfer within the company to another line or location once you become certified, or is it?

What are some of the biggest differences between working for a large Class I and Class III railroad?

In terms of hard physical labor how is the job overall? Does it tend to be fast paced and stressful most of the time? Or only like this some of the time, with the majority of the time spent sitting in the cab between stops?

Anyone here happen to have or know anyone who has had any prior experience or knowledge on working for RailAmerica or the San Joaqin Valley Rail road?

I apologize for the many questions, but a sincere thanks for any and all replies. -

Midsouth fan

Some of these questions sound like questions you should ask your interviewer (job labor, transfer). I'm not familiar with RA or the SJVR, but there are differences between working for a class I and a class III (shortline). One of the big differences is working schedule. On most (not all) shortlines the schedule is other words, the on-duty times are the same everyday; whereas the class I schedule varies all the time. You can technically go to work twice in one calendar day.

A shortline's work is fairly consistent...not so much with a class I. One day you could work a local, a yard job the next, and then a through freight the day after that. :confused:

If the shortline is short (in distance) and fast enough, you can go home every night. On a class I, you better get ready to miss your bed, your family, your pets, and your "life". :(

Holidays--forget about it on the class I. They do NOT exist! :(

Just remember, not all shortlines are as beautiful as I just described them. Ask your interviewer about holidays and work schedules. I hope this helps. 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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