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Conductor Trainee CP Rail
Hello out there;

Just wondering what everyone knows about being a train master. CN seems to be looking for a lot of them right now. Any insight would be appreciated.



The Herder Himself
Imagine being middle managment, but to the extreme. Needless to say, it tends to be a high turnouver posistion.

I should warn you, this is also more a enthusiast forum... Your going to find railroaders (the people you manage), and railfans/photographers (the people you "run off" company property or give the third degree to for taking pictures of trains), so the opinions you may find or hear about trainmaster's may be less than positive. With that said, I have worked with TM's who were decent company officals and tried to work with us TY&E folks. On the flip side, I've also dealt with TM's who were the complete opposite and tired to make the simple task of us doing our job a complete nightmare.


Conductor Trainee CP Rail
Yeah Ed;

I just am about to graduate from a Conductor Training Program and I thought I would give it a shot. There are two ads running around right now for CN. One is in the national newspapers looking for people with supervisory experience in the transportation or construction industry. Well I fit that bill so I applied. Then online it started asking how many years I had as a conductor and if I was familiar with railway software programs. Needles to say I don't but the ad in the paper said they would train you from the ground up (12 months training). I figured I coulfd get in on this with my certificate but was quickly rejected. Oh well, got an offer with CSX right now in Quebec, I think I will take a good look at.


Remarkably Snide
Trainmaster: a creature that sleeps an average of 2 hours a day and lives off of a diet of (bad) coffee and cigarettes, with the occasional McDonalds quarter-pounder thrown in for good measure.

It's just a nasty job. I've heard that the traditional turnover rate for new hires was about 90%. You aren't paid crap, and expected to be available 24/7 365 days a year. Christmas day? Sorry, you have to drive to this terminal 4 hours away to take a crew to their train since they don't have a van available up there. Just been up for 22 hours straight at a derailment and finally got to bed at 345am? Well, sleep fast - there's a morning call with the superintendent at 530am and you MUST be on it. Didn't get those cars to the customer last night? Even though the company won't hire people and you didn't have any available engines at your yard, it's still your fault. You should have done something differently. Customers order more cars than they can handle? Well that counts against your "numbers" and it is your fault.

Guy gets hurt on the job - it's your fault. You should have been out there watching them more closely. Watch your crews too much and they slow down? Your fault. You should give them some breathing room. Let your crews have a little freedom? Well, if an out-of-town trainmaster comes down for a surprise "inspection" and finds the guys not following 100% of the rules - it is your fault. Be on that morning call at 530am to get your ass ripped. Then there's a second call at 11am. Be on that one, too. And kiss that bonus goodbye. Maybe next year.

Getting the picture yet?

But hey, you may get to work in some of the nastiest parts of the nastiest cities in the country. But if you can play your cards right and some upper-level manager takes pity on you, you may get an actually half-way decent job. OR they may send you to the worst places to work to get you to quit. If they don't just fire you instead.

Ed Sand

General Idiot
GP80Mac pretty much nailed it, except sometimes it can be a lot worse. Very very very very rarely it can be better.


New Member
Im a conductor for CSX...Trainmasters?!?!?!?!? Ahh they are a contankerous creature...Some are the best good hearted guys who will go to the worlds end to help you out...As opposed to some who are dumb as a bag of sh*t,who cant even manage their territory,but rather get their rocks off firing guys...So I just put it to you this way...Its a crap shoot on them...If the division manager is an ass,then majority of his trainmasters are asses....All I can say is if you like long hours,can sleep at night knowing you put a guy on the street,handle disgruntled employees,managers,customers coupled up with the railroad being your sole mission in life,them your the there are some positives to being a trainmaster just not many....In my experience older trainmasters are awesome as opposed to newer ones are just on an ego trip.... 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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