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Train Crew

When you work on a Union Pacific Train Crew, you are working at the very heart of our railroad. Train Crew employees are responsible for serving our customers by providing the safe, on-time, and on-plan movement of freight trains.

In this entry-level position, you will start as a Switchperson or Brakeperson, working as on-the-ground traffic control. You do not need any previous railroad experience; we provide all the necessary training.

These jobs directly lead to becoming a Conductor and/or a Locomotive Engineer, where you will have the rare opportunity to work on board a moving locomotive. The Conductor is responsible for the train, the freight and the crew. The Locomotive Engineer actually operates the locomotive.

Union Pacific operates in 23 states west of the Mississippi River. As a Train Crew employee, you will be assigned to a specific hub and this will dictate the geographic region in which you will work. You may be required to travel to or be assigned work at any location within that hub. Assignments within the hub are based on seniority.

Duties & Work Schedule:

You will not work a standard 40-hour week. You will have variable work hours with irregularly scheduled days off. Train Crew employees are always on-call, even nights, weekends and holidays, and are typically required to report to work within 90 minutes of notification. You will travel with our trains, sometimes spending a day or more away from your home terminal.

You will be working outdoors in all weather conditions - including snow, ice, rain, cold and heat - and frequently at elevations more than 12 feet above the ground. You must wear personal protective equipment such as safety glasses, safety boots, hard hats and hearing protection where the company requires.

Train Crew employees are often directly affected by the ever changing needs of our customers. When there is a decline in carloadings, this has a direct impact on the number of employees needed to support the movement of our trains. Should this happen, some employees may be placed on furlough status and will no longer be on the active call list. As work demand increases, individuals will be taken off furlough status as needed. Furloughs are based on seniority.


  • You must be at least 18 years old.
  • You must speak and read English because you will be asked to follow posted bulletins, regulations, rule books, timetables, switch lists, etc.
  • You must pass a reading comprehension test (see sample) to be considered for an interview.
  • You must be able to use a computer keyboard, and you must be able to count and compare numbers. (You might, for example, be asked to count the cars on a train during switching.)
  • You must be able to solve problems quickly and react to changing conditions on the job.
  • You must have strong vision and hearing, including the ability to: see and read hand signals from near and far; distinguish between colors; visually judge the speed and distance of moving objects; see at night; and recognize changes in sounds.
  • You must also be able to push, pull, lift and carry up to 25 pounds frequently; up to 50 pounds occasionally; and up to 83 pounds infrequently. See how to prepare for the physical job requirements
  • You will need good balance to regularly step on and off equipment and work from ladders to perform various tasks.
  • You must be able to walk, sit, stand and stoop comfortably.



As a newly hired Train Crew employee, you can expect to earn about $41,000 a year. As you advance to Conductor and Locomotive Engineer positions, you can earn up to $75,000 a year. A Train Crew employee is paid on a trip rate for a yard, local, or thru freight assignment. Your actual pay will depend on location and Union-negotiated agreements.




Your first 14 weeks on the job will be dedicated to formal training both in the classroom and in the field. Afterward, you will be assigned to either a switch person, brake person or conductor assignment.

Potential Career Path;

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