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FRA Trainee Questions Here

  • Kid,

    One question.

    How do you properly perfrom a route locking test?

    Figure a typical end of siding location.

     

  • Hey Kid: 2 Years experience isn't any experience at all. Working on my 38th year on the railroad and I'm still learning. I have seen many "kids" who think they can build a better mousetrap and were gone before they knew it.  The only way to learn (be trained) is to take the cotton out of the ears and put it in the mouth. Look, listen and learn. After you have become the head of the FRA training program, you can initiate your manual. If you think that your writing of this manual will help other trainees, you are wrong and may giving (most likely) bad information. Everyone teaches differently but hopefully comes to the same conclusion in a roundabout way if they are experienced and have the knowledge. There are many out there who do not have the knowledge but "think" they do. You learn from gathering the correct information and asking questions instead of giving opinions.

    There is no way that a "newbie" should ever write a training manual except on how to look for a new job.

     

  • Thanks for the advice, the cotton and all that. What craft are you? I am curious to know what craft you are in that you didn't learn anything, or even enough to have an opinion, in two years time. Was that Earth years?  How did you keep your job? What is your current job? Just for other people's information that might read this, from what I have seen (MY OPINION HERE, NOT FRA OPINION!!!) FRA will not hire people that can't learn anything in two years time, so be warned. You need to lighten up man. There were many times in my career prior to the FRA that I did not think I would live to see the sunrise. I don't sweat small stuff and neither should you. You shouldn't take yourself so seriously. 

    When I initially posted I asked for old heads to give their opinions so I or any other interested person could get their perspective on what they thought trainees should be doing. So I appreciate you taking the time to post a reply. I really would like some of you old timers or anyone with railroad experience to post wisdom here so we can learn from you. So far I understand that I am too keep my mouth shut, listen and I won't know anything for several years and I have no place thinking that I know anything...blah blah blah. How about things like learning/study tricks that you all know for things like rules, GCOR or systems? How about anything that you wish FRA inspectors would pay attention to, but they miss so I could put that into my tool kit for later in my career. Are there any unwritten politics that could elaborate on that people just don't talk about? I would love to hear any stories about your experiences, specifically regarding accidents, operations or labor battles with management.      

    Again, as I have stated many times, the information I offered to give was for people interested in applying for the FRA Trainee program and what it was like. Key word here: Trainee program," I never offered to give advice about the railroad and I never would. Specifically among trainees, I have observed that the biggest shock to them when they come on board is the railroad culture. It is also one of the main reasons they don't stick around (my opinion here). Giving advice about crafts/disciplines is absolutely none of my business. FRA has a department that does that (craft/discipline/technical training) and no one does it better. I would never give information about the railroad or any policy/technical opinion or advice, that is way beyond me at this point, I am in no way qualified and it is against FRA policy even if I knew what I was talking about.  

  • Thats not the kind of advice I am seeking or willing to discuss. Do I know what you are taking about? Yep. 

  • Right on Overandout.  Not only should he not be writing a training manual, I question why the FRA is hiring a trainee with no RR experience.  Railroads are truly dangerous places and the folks who are here to enforce regulations need more than book learning.  I'm pushing 40 years, and like you I am STILL LEARNING.  And I learned by working on REAL RAILROADS.  The old story used to be that if you couldn't make it on a real ralroad, the FRA would hire you.  Now it looks like the short-cut is to not even try, just walk in and be a trainee.  I did not vote for CHANGE in the last election, so this doesn't surprise me that here is another example of government "No experience required". 

  • "I would never give information about the railroad or any policy/technical opinion or advice, that is way beyond me at this point, I am in no way qualified and it is against FRA policy even if I knew what I was talking about".

    Your last sentence says it all. There are so many things to learn during the course of your career. While I did learn and knew what I had to do concerning where I worked during the first two years, I was still new to the industry and everyday was a learning experience. I worked as a Block Operator in towers, then a Train Director, Train Dispatcher, Rules Department, Manager of the Dispatchers and now head the Rules Department. I watched, listened and learned during my years. If I didn't know I asked. If I couldn't find an answer, I dug further until I got the answer that was needed depending on each situation. But I listened to the wise people who were around for many years before me and gained from their views.

    Could I have written a training guide for Block Operators when I had two years? Sure, but it would have been worthless because I only could write what I saw during those two years.

    "I am curious to know what craft you are in that you didn't learn anything, or even enough to have an opinion, in two years time".

    Sure I had an opinion but one that showed a person's thoughts with only two years experience, a non-qualified opinion.An opinion that dealt with what I thought I knew which was very little.  Each day over the course of 38 years my opinion changed as I learned, saw things with a different view or from a different angle.

    You go ahead and write your trainee manual. Hope it works for you. Then in 20 years look at it again and see if you should have even entertained the idea of writing it with only two years experience.

    I have seen (MY OPINION HERE, NOT FRA OPINION!!!) FRA will not hire people that can't learn anything in two years time, so be warned. You need to lighten up man.

    On the contrary, I have seen the FRA do just that, and hire supposedly qualified people who actually weren't. Some were disgruntled with the railroad where they worked or didn't agree with their company's policies or superiors. Of course there is always that exception rather than the norm. You're only as good as what you know.

  • Once again Kid,

    The Fra trainee program is for trainees, even so, the FRA overstepped it's bounds once again, by hiring you and those like you. The program wasn't intended to get you ready for the railroad culture but instead get qualified and experienced rails ready for government service and the red tape that comes with the job.

     As far as how you got on or what you've learned to this point, I like so many who have responded to you ramblings are amazed  that in two years on the FRA Trainee Program who have become the all incompassing know it all, writing a manual, and all of the other crap you're dishing up here.

    And for generAL INFORMATION the FRA hasn't hired another bunch of so called Trainees since that bunch that were hired in 2006, because to many legitimate complaints were being lodged because the FRA is discrimating against individuals with rail experience and were hiring just to satisfy those with military points, it became almost a pre-requisite that even for the lowly FRA Trainee Program that an individual most certainly needed Military points to make the final cut.

    And then we get this kind of a Trainee who knows it all about the FRA, the railroad and the lifestyle and culture of railroading, With only two years you don't know jack, jack!

  • Thanks for your wisdom and advice. I am more looking at a manual to exaplin basic terminology (main line versus siding, etc.), job descriptions, (road crew versus yard crew etc.), nothing technical or job specific. The manual would be edited and approved by seasoned and expereinced railroaders.

    THANK YOU AGAIN FOR YOUR ADVICE!!!! 

  • AlmostDone

    Right on Overandout.  Not only should he not be writing a training manual, I question why the FRA is hiring a trainee with no RR experience.  Railroads are truly dangerous places and the folks who are here to enforce regulations need more than book learning.  I'm pushing 40 years, and like you I am STILL LEARNING.  And I learned by working on REAL RAILROADS.  The old story used to be that if you couldn't make it on a real ralroad, the FRA would hire you.  Now it looks like the short-cut is to not even try, just walk in and be a trainee.  I did not vote for CHANGE in the last election, so this doesn't surprise me that here is another example of government "No experience required". 

     

    OK Overandout. You make it sound like I graduated high school and walked into the FRA recruiting office and they hired me for my first job. As far as people in the FRA not making it on a real railroad, respectfully, you are clueless. That is one of the most ridiculous statements I have read to date on this board. This statement is an example of someone talking completly out of thier ass. You need to take some of that cotton your buddy talked about and shove it in your ass and put some in your mouth as well.   

  • Kid,

    What most people are trying to express goes somelthing like this......

    There are 3 phases we go through in life and/or our career:

    1. We know nothing and know we know nothing so we are extremely cautious to do anything so we do no harm. - Dangerous through inaction

    2. We know everything, see that done that no more need to know. - Very Dangerous through knowing everything

    3. We realize how little we truly know and the rest of our life./career is to learn as much as we can so we do no harm. - Aware, open and learning.

    Our desire is to help those younger, not necessarily in age but perhaps experience that are still in phase 1 or 2, to get to phase 3 as quickly and painlessly as possible. It is not intended to be insulting, demeaning or hurtful. Just the opposite we care and want to help. Sometimes it is difficult to 'hear' the message without getting emotional. This is your choice.

  • Excellent answer. Overandout.

  • Boy am I happy I'll be retiring. Kid you don't get it. Where are you going to work on you next job?

  • Hello there.  I am a former Operating Practices supervisor for the Midwest region (Region 4) of the Federal Railroad Administration.  I retired after 17 years and went to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in 2008.  Prior to that I worked for Conrail, Springfiled Terminal, LTV Steel railroad and Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation Distric (a.k.a.South Shore) in transportation or safety departments.  As a Specialist (read inspector supervisor) it fell to me to supervise new hire jourrneymen inspectors as well as perople who are in the Trainee Program.

    The trainee program was scheduled to take 5 yers to complete after which the person was assigned to a "disipline" either Operating Practices, Hazmat, Signal & Train Control, Track, or Mechanical.  FRA is also now hiring more professional categories of employee but not as inspectors.  They include Bridge engineers and hygiene employees. 

    Trainees were cycled throough all of these disciplines over the course of their training.  Many of them were "upward mobility" type people such as clerks who worked at FRA and wanted to get into the inspector field and then on into management.  Most all of them had no railroad experience at all and had to try to pick up as much of the culture as they went along with their journeyman inspectors to whom they were assigned.  As you might guess, this is hard to do simply by assimilation.  Some folks had great difficulty when crews would ask them "what railroad did you come off of and what were you?"  I had one African American female who was repeated asked this question by train crews and managers.  She had no acceptable answer.  Frankly, I never saw the need to have such a program because there were always tons of highly qualified people waiting on the National Register with plenty of experience to get hired.

    Every time a vacancy occured, I would receive a listing of 5 potential candidates and their application for employment from which I could choose a succesful bidder.  If I happened to know a person and thought highly of them, he would most likely be my pick for the job.  The Regional managers such as myself had very little to do with who gets on the list of possible new hires for journeyman positions, they are screened at D.C. based on the KSA's and other job experiences.  I would rarely, if ever, applicants on my list who were form Agreement people, almost all were former management typs who had come up through the ranks of rail labor.  I hired only two people who were onlly labor types, one was a General Chairman for the BLE who turned out to be one of the best OP inspectors ever in the history of the FRA.  Mostly, though, it were former manager types  who got hired.  One of the things people looked for was experieince such as union representative or some indication that they had drive and ambition and demonstrated those trains.  Also, veterans were highly prized and many of the applicanats who were labor folks were not veerans, particularly Vietnam era people.

    All I can tell you is wait..FRA will soon be firing several hundred new inspectors because of the FISA 08 requirements so keep your application up to date.

  • Oops, I said "firing" in the last sentance when I meant "hiring".  Its really hard to get fired from an FRA job.

  • I have been trying to even get an acknowledgement for over a year for a position as a MP&E inspector.  What is the "trick"?