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Qualificati
Outlook
Earnings
Working C

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
Maurice J. Tobin, Secretary

OCCUPATIONAL OUTLOOK SERIES




BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS
Ewan Clague,

Commissioner

BULLETIN No. 961




Cover picture shows brakeman signaling to engineer.

Employment Outlook in
R A ILR O A D

O C C U P A TIO N S

Bulletin No. 961
UNITED STA TES D EP A R T M EN T O F L A B O R
Maurice J. Tobin, Secretary
B U R E A U O F L A B O R STATISTICS
Ewan Clague, Commissioner

UNITED STATES
GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
WASHINGTON : 1949

For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U. S. Government Printing Office
Washington 25, D. C. - Price 30 cents




Letter of Transmittal

U n it e d S t a t e s D e p a r t m e n t oe L a bo r ,
B u r e a u of L abor S t a t is t ic s ,

Washing ton, D. G., June SO, 194,9.

The S e c r e t a r y o f L abo r :
I have the honor to transmit herewith a report on the employment outlook
in railroad occupations. This is one of a series of occupational studies pre­
pared in the Bureau’s Occupational Outlook Branch for use in vocational
counseling of young people in school, veterans, and others interested in
choosing a field of work.
The study was conducted under the supervision of Helen Wood. The report
was prepared by Miss Wood, Gloria Count, and Raymond D. Larson. Samuel
Vernoff assisted in the field work; Sylvia K. Lawrence and George Gryder,
in the library and statistical research.
The Bureau wishes to express its appreciation to the many officials of the
trade-unions, trade associations, railroad companies, and Government agencies
who have provided valuable information or read all or part of the manuscript.
E w a n C l a g u e , Gommissioner.

Hon. M a u r ic e J. T o b in ,
Secretary of Labor.

II



Contents
Introduction______________________________________________________________________
The railroad industry______________________________________________________________
The railroad workers______________________________________________________________
Employment outlook______________________________________________________________
Freight and passenger traffic:
Past trends_______________________________________________________________
Future prospects__________________________________________________________
Employment:
Past trends_______________________________________________________________
Prospective trends________________________________________________________
Opportunities for new entrants_____________________________________________
Labor organization________________________________________________________________
Earnings and working conditions:
Hours of work________________________________________________________________
Earnings_____________________________________________________________________
Pensions, other benefits, and vacations__________________________________________
How to enter railroad work________________________________________________________
Railroad occupations—duties, qualifications, outlook, earnings, working conditions:
Train, engine, and yard service_________________________________________________
Locomotive firemen and helpers____________________________________________
Locomotive engineers_____________________________________________________
Brakemen________________________________________________________________
Conductors_______________________________________________________________
Train baggagemen________________________________________________________
Hostlers__________________________________________________________________
Switch tenders_______________________________________
Passenger service on trains______________________________________
Pullman conductors_______________________________________________________
Porters and attendants____________________________________________________
Dining-car cooks_____________________________________
Dining-car waiters________________________________________________________
Communication, station, and office work________________________________________
Telegraphers and telephoners______________________________________________
Towermen_______________________________________________________________
Station agents____________________________________________________________
Clerks___________________________________________________________________
Redcaps_________________________________________________________________
Shop trades__________________________________________________________________
Maintenance of way and structures_____________________________________________
Trackmen________________________________________________________________
Bridge and building workers_______________________________________________
Signal workers_____ _____________________________________________________
Appendix A. Employment on class I railroads, by occupation, 1948___________________
Appendix B. Suggested readings____________________________________________________




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III

E M P L O Y M E N T O U T L O O K IN R A IL R O A D
O C C U P A T IO N S
Introduction

The railroad industry is one of the giants of
American enterprise, with about iy 2 million work­
ers, nearly 2 million cars and locomotives, and a
vast network of lines connecting all parts of the
United States. Railroads are such an essential
and accepted part of our national life that it is
hard to realize they were as novel and exciting a
century ago as supersonic jet planes are today.
They made their first bid for public attention in
1830 when a small steam engine raced a horse
car at Baltimore, Md. Unfortunately this engine,
the “Tom Thumb,” had a break-down and lost the
contest. It is nevertheless remembered as one of
the first American-built locomotives to transport
passengers for hire, and the year 1830 saw the
beginning of a great railroad era.
The first links in our railroad network were
small separate lines only a few miles long. They
were located in the Northeastern and Middle At­
lantic States, where most of the people in the
country lived. These early railroads were built
outwards from big cities, in order to reach as
large a surrounding area as possible and thus bring
more trade into the city. By the early 1840’s the
different short lines had begun to form a network
joining such cities as Boston and Buffalo, until
then many days’ journey apart. Railroad build­
ing west of the Alleghenies began during the
forties and went on so rapidly that by the middle
fifties both Chicago and St. Louis had through
rail connection with New York. In 1869 occurred
the most dramatic event in railroad history—the
completion of the first transcontinental route by
the joining of the Union Pacific line from the West
and the Central Pacific line from the East at
Promontory Point, Utah.
The new means of transportation had a tre­
mendous effect in increasing trade and travel and



developing the western part of the country. Ac­
cording to a report written about 1850: “Twelve
years ago the fare of a passenger from Chicago,
111. (by lake and rail to New York City), 1,500
miles, was $74.50. It is now about $17* Twelve
years since the cost of transporting a bushel of
wheat from Chicago to New York was so great
as effectually to keep the grain of that country
out of the market. Now a bushel of wheat is
transported the whole distance, 1,500 miles, for
27 cents.” 1 The railroads thus made it possible
for western farm products to reach the eastern
markets and ports. To the West, they carried
manufactured goods from eastern industrial cen­
ters, and they transported the stream of people
migrating to frontier communities. Especially in
the far West, they tapped many regions which
were out of reach of waterways and which, with­
out the railroads, might have remained unsettled
and undeveloped indefinitely.
The era of rapid railroad building came to an
end with the First World War. But railroad
traffic went on expanding thereafter. Today—
despite competition for business from trucks and
busses, and automobiles, pipe lines, and air lines,
as well as inland waterways—the railroads still
have more freight and passenger traffic and em­
ploy more people than all other intercity transpor­
tation industries combined. They have more
workers than are employed in automobile plants
or in factories making all kinds of clothing and
other finished textile products; half again as many
as are engaged in all types of mining.
In an industry as large as this, thousands of
job openings arise each year as workers die, re1 See Economic History of the American People, by Ernest L.
Bogart and Donald L. Kemmerer, New York, Longmans, Green &
Co., 1942 (p. 335).

l

tire, or transfer to other fields of work. Open­
ings occur in every State in the great number of
communities of all sizes which are served by the
railroads. The jobs are of many different kinds:
Brakeman, fireman, telegrapher, clerk, apprentice
or helper in a skilled trade, trackman, porter, and
cook—to give a few examples from a long list.
These jobs are so varied that people with widely
different interests and personalities can find satis­
factory positions in railroading.

New workers entering railroad employment
must expect to start at the bottom of the ladder.
The longer they stay with the company the greater
will be their job security and the better their
chance of picking a work assignment they like.
To many, railroading is a lifelong career, to which
they are bound not only by their weekly pay
envelopes but by the fascination of helping to
speed trains, passengers, and cargo to their desti­
nations all over the country.

The Railroad Industry

This country now has more than 700 railway
companies—the smallest with less than a dozen
employees and only one or two miles of road;
the largest with over 100,000 workers and great
branching systems of road covering more than
10,000 miles.
Seven out of eight employees in the railroad
industry— about 1,300,000 in 1948—work for the
group of roads known technically as class I linehaul railways. There are 132 companies in this
group, each with over $1,000,000 of revenue a year
and with lines connecting two or more cities or
towns. One out of every three railroad employees
works for one of the six largest companies—the
Pennsylvania, the New York Central, the Atchi­
son, Topeka and Santa Fe, the Southern Pacific,
the Baltimore and Ohio, and the Union Pacific.
Besides the class I roads, there are two other
groups of railroad companies. Scattered over
the country are about 350 smaller line-haul rail­
ways. But these railways together employ only
around 1 percent of the workers in the industry.
There are also more than 200 separate switch­
ing and terminal companies, many of them owned
by the big line-haul roads. These two-hundredodd companies include switching railways
(“switching” is moving cars about in the yards as
needed when trains are being made up or broken
up), union stations, bridge and ferry companies,
and other types of concerns. A few of them are
large; most are very small. Altogether, they
have about 4 percent of the industry’s work force.
The railroad industry includes a few other
closely related services, in addition to the types
of companies mentioned so far. The Railway
Express Agency is well known to everyone who
has sent or received express packages. Equally
2



well known is the Pullman Company, wdiich oper­
ates sleeping and parlor cars. These two com­
panies, which are both owned jointly by a large
number of railroads, employed about 105,000
workers in 1947.
To outsiders, transporting passengers may seem
the railroads’ most important function. The
railroader knows, however, that freight business
brings in far more revenue. In 1947 four-fifths
of all class I railroad revenues were from freight
and only about one-tenth from passenger travel.
The remainder came from mail, express, and
various other sources.
Coal is the largest single item of railroad
freight. To roads serving the coal-mining re­
gions, it is all-important as a source of traffic.
Railways in other parts of the country, however,
rely in the main on different types of commodi­
ties. Those with lines reaching into logging re­
gions, for example, naturally depend on forest
products for much of their freight business;
those in metal-mining areas count on ore; roads
in industrial regions transport large quantities of
manufactured goods. Livestock, wheat, fruits
and vegetables, and other farm products are also
important items of freight on many roads.
Railway lines spread over the country like a
giant web, connecting every State and city and
thousands upon thousands of towns and villages.
Chicago is the hub of the Nation’s railroad net­
work. Here, the great eastern and western sys­
tems meet, and connections are made also with
routes to the North and South. However, there
were more railroad workers living in the New York
City metropolitan district than in the Chicago
district in 1940 (69,000 compared with 66,000).
Other areas where more than 10,000 railroad

...itv. *. *
Classification yard in which freight cars are sorted out and made into trains,

workers lived in 1940 were: Pittsburgh, Phila­
delphia, St. Louis, Minneapolis, San FranciscoOakland, Los Angeles, Boston, Buffalo-Niagara,
Cleveland, Kansas City, Kans.-Kansas City, Mo.,
Baltimore, Detroit, and Cincinnati.
These 15 major centers, with their large stations
and yards and company main offices, were the
homes of about 335,000 railroad workers in 1940.2
But twice this number of employees lived else­
where, many of them in small communities. Some
of the big shops (where heavy repairs are made
on cars and locomotives) and therefore many shop
workers are in other localities. Altoona, Pa., for
example, has the largest shops in the country, al­
though it is a relatively small city. Small sta­
tions and yards, switch towers, and other railroad
facilities and the workers who operate and main­
tain them are scattered all over the country.
The States where the largest numbers of rail­
road employees lived in 1947 were Pennsylvania,
Illinois, New York, Ohio, and California. These
5 States have about two-fifths (600,000) of the
country’s railroad workers. Pennsylvania, with
about 150,000 workers, is the leading railroad
State. Even Rhode Island, the State with the
fewest railroaders, has about 2,500 of these
workers.

The Railroad Workers

It takes a great variety of workers to keep the
trains running. Locomotive engineers, track la­
borers, car repairmen, telegraphers, machinists,
and clerks are but a few of the occupational groups
employed by a big railroad.
Chart 1 shows how many people were employed
in these and a number of other occupations on
class I roads in 1948.3 The occupations shown
in the chart were chosen from the much longer
list of all railroad jobs because of their importance
to people considering a career in railroading.
They include the largest railroad occupations and
several smaller ones in which employment pros­
pects are particularly favorable or which are of
special interest for other reasons.
2 This is the latest available data on employment, by metro­
politan districts. Employment in the industry as a whole was
about one-third greater in 1948 than in 1940.
3 The numbers of workers employed in 1948 in each of the
occupations shown separately in the Interstate Commerce Com­
mission reports are given in appendix A, p. 4S.



The train, engine, and yard service workers are
the men who operate trains on the road and make
up and break up trains in the yards; a few do
related work. Communication, station, and office
workers are another large group, some of whom
have much to do with the operation of the trains.
Maintenance-of-equipment workers, a third ma­
jor group, are responsible mainly for keeping
freight and passenger cars and locomotives in
good running order and for building new rolling
stock. Employees in the maintenance-of-wayand-structures department have to keep the track
and roadbed in good condition and repair bridges,
stations, and other buildings.
Other railroad occupations, not listed in the
chart, range from top executive and professional
positions to unskilled laundry and cleaning jobs.
Practically every road has a president, vice presi­
dent, general manager, secretary-treasurer, other
officials, and their assistants. Big roads also have
3

Chart 1— Brakemen, Clerks, and Section Men are Largest Groups of Railroad Workers
E m p lo y m e n t in S ele cted O c c u p a tio n s on Class I R a ilro a d s , 1 9 4 8

THOUSANDS OF WORKERS

T R A I N , E N G I N E AND YARD S E R V I C E
Brakemen
Firemen

Engineers and motormen
Conductors
Hostlers and helpers

Road passenger baggagemen
Switchtenders

O F F I C E , CO M M UN IC A TI O N, AND S T A T I O N
Clerks
Telegraphers, telephoners and towermen
Station agents

M A IN T E N A N C E OF E Q U IP M E N T
Helpers (all skilled rrades)

Carmen

Machinists
Boilermakers
Apprentices (all skilled trades)
Sheet-metal workers
Electricians

Blacksmiths

M A I N T E N A N C E O F WAY AN D S T R U C T U R E S
Section men

Extra gang men

Bridge and building skilled workers
Signalmen and signal maintainers
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS

4



0

50

iOO

I50

staffs of lawyers, engineers, and accountants and
other professional groups. In addition, they have
sizable numbers of foremen, truckers, cooks and
waiters, stenographers and secretaries, crossing
and bridge flagmen, claim agents and investiga­
tors, watchmen, stationary firemen and engineers,
telephone operators, and a great variety of other
occupational groups.
Practically all the workers in train and engine
service occupations and maintenance jobs are men
(except for some women who work as cleaners).
Clerical occupations have the highest proportion
of women workers, but even in these groups men
predominate.
At present, Negroes are not often found in
skilled jobs. There are a few thousand Negro
brakemen and firemen in the South and some
Negro helpers in the shop crafts, but very few
have been promoted to higher-grade positions.
On the other hand, most of the workers in serv­

ice occupations such as cook, waiter, and porter
are Negroes.
What sorts of jobs are there with switching and
terminal companies and small line-haul rail­
roads ? The answer varies greatly from one com­
pany to another, depending partly on the size of
the company but even more on whether it is a
passenger terminal, a bridge or ferry company,
or a small switching or line-haul road. Practi­
cally all the types of workers found in class I
roads are employed by some of these different
companies.
With the Pullman Co., the main occupational
groups are porters and attendants, coach cleaners,
craftsmen, clerks, and parlor and sleeping car
conductors. Many jobs in the Railway Express
Agency are similar to those in railroading. The
largest occupational groups working for this com­
pany are clerks, express messengers, express han­
dlers, truck drivers, agents, and guards.

Employment O utlook

What is the employment outlook in railroad­
ing? Will competition from trucks and pipe
lines cut into the railroads’ freight business ? Will
airlines, busses, and private automobiles take a
larger share of passenger travel? How would a
decline in general business activity affect railroad
traffic ? And how would changes in the amount
of traffic affect employment? What will happen
as more and more Diesel-electric locomotives are
introduced and other improvements in equipment
are made? Are there likely to be lay-offs and
waiting lists for jobs, or are there bright prospects
of openings for newcomers?
These questions head the list to which one needs
answers in attempting to forecast employment
prospects with the railroads, but there are many
other problems which must be considered also.
The easiest way to understand the complex factors
which will influence future employment opportu­
nities is to see what has happened to traffic and
employment in the past. This section therefore
starts with a brief review of the trends in freight
and passenger traffic up to the present time and
then discusses the prospects with regard to future
traffic. Next follows an examination of how em­
839465°—49


-2

ployment has been related to traffic in the past and
what its future trends are likely to be if the analy­
sis of traffic prospects proves to be correct. Fi­
nally, there is a discussion of the number of
openings likely to arise each year owing to deaths,
retirements, and transfers to other industries.
Freight and Passenger Traffic
Past Trends

A bird’s-eye view of the ups and downs in rail­
road freight business between 1919 and 1948 is
given in chart 2. This chart shows the amount of
revenue freight carried each year, measured in
ton-miles4 and expressed as index numbers
(1919 = 100).5 The trend in industrial produc­
tion during the same period is also shown.
One has only to glance at the chart to see how
4 The measure of freight traffic used throughout this report is
ton-miles. One ton of freight carried 1 mile represents 1 tonmile. Thus, 100 tons of freight transported 1 mile or a single
ton carried 100 miles would each count as 100 ton-miles. The
statistics are for class I, II, and III line-haul railroads.
5 Index numbers are ratios arrived at by dividing a figure for
1 year by the corresponding figure for the “base” year (in this
case, 1919).
5

Chart 2— Railroad Freight Traffic Has Not Kept Pace With Industrial Production
Indexes of Industrial Production and of Railroad Freight Ton-Miles, 1919-48
(1 9 1 9 = 1 0 0 )

INDEX

1919 1920

1925

1930

U N ITE D STATES DEPARTM ENT OF LABOR
BUREAU OF LABOR S TA T IS T IC S

much railroad freight traffic is affected by changes
in general business activity. In 1919 and 1920,
immediately after the First World War, produc­
tion was high in practically all industries, and the
railroads were kept busy hauling raw materials to
manufacturers and finished goods to the markets.
In the depression year 1921, however, industrial
production and freight traffic both fell off sharply.
The prosperous years from 1922 to 1929 brought
marked gains in production and gains almost as
great in freight traffic, which changed to precipi­
tous declines following the 1929 crash. Then dur­
ing the period of business recovery after 1932,
traffic mounted again but not as fast as production.
A second fact which the chart makes clear is
that between 1920 and 1940 the gap between
railroad freight traffic and industrial production
gradually became wider and wider. This was the
result largely of increasing competition from other
6



1935

1940

1945

1948

Source: INTERSTATE COMMERCE- COMMISSION
AND FEDERAL RESERVE BOARD

forms of transportation. Trucks made inroads es­
pecially in short-haul traffic. Pipe lines were
found to be a more economical means of transport­
ing petroleum products than railroad tank cars;
their competition was the more serious because
of the increasing use of gas and oil for cooking
and heating purposes in place of coal, the main­
stay of railroad freight traffic. The amount of
freight carried on the inland waterways also
tended to increase, at the expense of the railroads.
Despite all these developments the railroads
kept the lion’s share of the country’s freight traffic.
In 1940 they carried 61 percent of all intercity
freight traffic while trucks had only 8 percent,
oil pipe lines 12 percent, and the Great Lakes
and inland waterways the remainder. In 1926,
however, the railroads’ share of the traffic had
been 76 percent.
Chart 3 shows what happened to passenger

Chart 3— Railroad Employment and Freight and Passenger Traffic, 19 19-48
Indexes of Employment, Freight Ton-Miles and Passenger-Miles

( 1919 = 100 )

business during this same period. As one would
expect, passenger traffic 6tended to be high in pros­
perous years and low in depressions, but the re­
lationship to general business activity was not as
close as in the case of freight. Another interesting
point made obvious by the chart is that passenger
traffic declined dilring the 1920’s, when freight
was increasing. Throughout that decade the
number of private automobiles in use grew by
leaps and bounds, taking much passenger traffic
away from the railroads. In the late 1920’s and
the 1930’s competition from busses also became
stiffer and stiller—with the result that between
1926 and 1940 the railroads’ share of commercial
passenger traffic declined from 75 to 62 percent.
Their total loss of passenger traffic was even
greater than these figures suggest, since the grow­
ing number of people who used their own auto­
mobiles instead of traveling by railroad or some



other public conveyance are not included in the
statistics.
Any one who rode on the crowded wartime
passenger trains or watched the long lines of
freight cars loaded with war materials rolling by
knows what happened to railroad traffic during
the war. In 1944 the railroads carried 741 billion
ton-miles of freight, nearly twice as much as in
1940 and almost two-thirds more than in 1929,
the prewar peak year. Passenger traffic rose even
faster: Between 1940 and 1944 it quadrupled,
reaching 96 billion passenger-miles, another alltime record.7
The transport job which had to be done in this
country during the war was huge, and the rail­
roads did the greater part of it. Trucks, busses,
6 Throughout this report passenger traffic is measured in pas­
senger-miles. Each mile traveled by a passenger counts as 1
passenger-mile.
7 These statistics are for class I, II, and III line-haul railroads.
7

water carriers, and pipe lines also increased their
traffic, but not nearly as much as the railroads.
Though air-line traffic grew rapidly, it made only
a very small dent in the total passenger transport
problem; in the field of freight, air traffic was
insignificant. Furthermore, many people who
would previously have used their own cars in
commuting to work or for long trips traveled by
railroad instead.
After VJ-day, railroad freight traffic dropped
sharply, because of the curtailment of war pro­
duction. By the middle of 1946, however, in­
dustry was producing civilian goods in great
quantities, and freight business began to increase
again. During 1947, the railroads carried 11 per­
cent more freight than in 1946, 75 percent more
than in 1940, and only 11 percent less than in
1944, the peak wartime year. The volume of
freight traffic continued to be great during 1948,
though slightly less than in 1947. The railroads
are still handling a somewhat higher proportion
of the Nation’s commercial freight traffic than be­
fore the w ar; in 1947 their share of total freight
traffic was 67 percent and in 1948 probably about
64 percent, according to a preliminary estimate,
as compared with 62 percent in 1940.
Railroad passenger traffic, on the other hand,
has declined sharply and continuously since the
end of 1945. Many factors have contributed to
this—decreased military and furlough travel,
greater use of private automobiles, and increased
air-line traffic. Passenger traffic was less than
half as great during 1948 as in the peak year 1944,
but it was still about 73 percent greater than in
1940.
Future Prospects

In early 1949 (wdien this report was prepared),
freight traffic was below the level of early 1948.
This was due largely to the general slackening of
economic activity and in small part to loss of traf­
fic to competing transportation agencies. Traffic
trends in the future will depend chiefly, as has
freight volume in the past, on the general level
of business activity.
Over the long run, assuming good economic
conditions and railroad freight rates competitive
with those of other agencies of transportation,
freight business probably will remain at a high
level. A growing labor force and rising produc­
8



tivity of labor will make for a long-run upward
trend in industrial production and, consequently,
in the total amount of freight handled by all trans­
portation agencies. The share carried by the rail­
roads is likely to decline slowly for some time,
however, even under the favorable conditions as­
sumed. Truck transport, which has special ad­
vantages for certain types of traffic, is expected
to continue to expand, as inefficient prewar ve­
hicles are replaced and additional trucks are added
to the fleets. Airplanes, which at present carry
an insignificant proportion of freight, may also
take away a very small amount of business from
the railroads. Pipe lines, too, are likely to in­
crease their share of traffic. The long-run trend
in railroad freight traffic will thus depend on off­
setting factors—expanding industrial production
as against the likelihood of moderate inroads by
competing types of transportation.
Like all attempts to foresee the future, this
analysis has validity only if the future behaves
somewhat like the past. Any revolutionary
change would upset these conclusions. The ap­
plication of atomic energy to civilian uses, for
example, would greatly reduce the use of coal, the
largest single item of railroad freight. A major
change in Government policy might alter the com­
petitive situation of the different agencies of
transport ation.
Prospects for passenger traffic are less good
than for freight. This branch of railroad busi­
ness will probably decrease for some time, though
the sharp downward trend of the last few years
should give way soon to a more gradual decline,
assuming that general economic conditions are
good. The total amount of passenger travel in
this country is almost certain to go on rising, but
the railroads’ share of this travel will probably
continue to drop. Most of the business will prob­
ably be lost to private automobiles, but probably
some also to busses and airplanes. Busses will
compete mainly for short-distance coach traffic;
air lines are likely to attract more and more longdistance travelers.
Any major decline in business activity would
of course seriously reduce railroad freight and
passenger business. How sharp the drop in traf­
fic might be is illustrated by the experience in
1920 and 1921, when freight traffic dropped 25
percent and passenger traffic 20 percent. During

the great depression beginning in 1929, both kinds
of traffic declined still more—by almost 50 per­
cent in 4 years.
Employment
Past Trends

Chart 3 shows railroad employment since 1919.
One of the most important facts which can be
seen from* the chart is that the number of workers
needed to handle a given amount of traffic has
tended to decline slowly but steadily. From 1923
to 1929 employment dropped as did passenger
traffic, while freight traffic—much the larger part
of railroad business—was rising. The railroads
had a bigger work force in 1932 than in 1940,
although both freight and passenger traffic were
greater in the latter year.
This reduction in labor requirements was made
possible by many improvements in railroad equip­
ment and methods of operation, including the in­
troduction of more powerful locomotives which
could haul longer trains at higher speeds; de­
velopment of cars, rails, and other equipment
which were more durable and needed fewer re­
pairs; introduction of machinery in maintenanceof-way work; improved communication and sig­
naling systems; and simplified accounting pro­
cedures. Some new jobs were created as a re­
sult of these innovations. But in every case the
net effect was to decrease the number of workers
needed to handle a given amount of traffic.
Chart 3 also shows, as one would expect, that
railroads take on more workers in boom years
when traffic is increasing and generally make some
lay-offs when traffic drops. However, the gains
in employment in good years have usually been
less than the gains in traffic. The chart shows
this for many past periods, and most plainly of all
for the war period beginning in 1940, when the
railroads handled unparalleled amounts of traffic
with only a moderate increase in their work force.
This was a remarkable feat. It was achieved by
longer hours of work, using every available inch
of car space, and cutting to the minimum the time
when locomotives and cars were in the shops for
repairs or standing idle in stations or yards.
Every group of railroaders helped in this united
effort. Shop workers, for example, contributed



through their skill in keeping worn and antiquated
equipment operating.
Since 1945 employment has declined, but not as
much as traffic. One of* the reasons for this is
that employees are no longer working so
much overtime. Also, passenger trains are less
crowded, and the average freight train has a
slightly smaller load than during the war; never­
theless each train has to have a full crew. More­
over, at the end of the war the railroads expanded
employment in some occupations, particularly in
the maintenance departments. These and other
factors have tended to decrease the amount of
traffic handled per worker, as compared with the
wartime record.
Prospective Trends

Railroad employment is likely to decline, but at
a slow rate, provided the country steers clear of a
major recession in business. Under this assump­
tion, the outlook is fairly bright for freight traf­
fic. As we have seen, passenger business is ex­
pected to decline for some time, but the level of
employment in the industry depends mainly on
freight business.
Reduction of the workweek from 48 to 40 hours
will tend to temporarily arrest the downward
trend in railroad employment. Beginning Sep­
tember 1, 1949, approximately 1 million “non­
operating” railroad workers will go from a 48hour week to a basic 5-day, 40-hour schedule. In
many cases, additional employees will have to be
hired when this change goes into effect.
Leverman-telegrapher throwing electrically operated switch.

9

Over the long run, the number of workers em­
ployed on the railroads will probably tend to de­
crease, even if general economic conditions are
good. The gains in freight traffic would have to
be large and continuous to make up for the trend
toward employing fewer workers to handle a
given volume of business. This trend has been very
marked in the past. It is likely to be equally
marked in the future, as the railroads install more
and more Diesel-electric locomotives and other
labor-saving equipment. The effect on employ­
ment will differ considerably from road to road
and from occupation to occupation, however, as
indicated in later sections of this report.
What would happen if there were a depression
instead of continued business prosperity ? During
the prewar depressions of 1920-22 and 1929-33
employment fell off in about the same proportion
as freight traffic (see p. 7). Future depressions
would probably show a somewhat similar rela­
tionship between declines in freight traffic and em­
ployment. If employment were to drop as much as
it did from 1929 to 1933, lay-offs would be heavy
and there would be long lists of people looking for
jobs on most roads. However, in the event of such
lay-offs, there would be less hardship than occurred
during the 1930’s, because of the unemployment
benefits since provided for railroad workers.
Opportunities for New Entrants

Young people will continue to find many em­
ployment opportunities in the railroad industry
despite the expected downward trend in employ­
ment. The industry is so big that openings due
to deaths, retirements, transfers to other indus­
tries, and other causes total a great many thou­
sands yearly. The railroads take on very large
numbers of new workers in good years.
In 1946, for example, about 400,000 workers
without previous experience in railroading were
hired by class I roads,8 although employment in
the industry declined slightly during the year and
8 Statistics on new entrants and re-entrants for 1946 used
here and elsewhere in this report are from unpublished data
provided by the Railroad Retirement Board. “New entrants are
employees with no previous railroad service (excluding service
prior to 1937). Re-entrants are employees who returned to rail­
road service after an absence of at least one calendar year— data
are based on a 20-percent sample.”

10



thousands of GI ex-railroaders and other re­
entrants were returning to their jobs. About
48.000 of these new entrants made up for workers
who died or retired during the year. However,
the great majority were hired either to meet peak
seasonal needs for workers or to take the place of
people who had left the industry. About twothirds of the new entrants (278,000) were em­
ployed as track workers or in other laboring jobs;
many extra workers are always taken on tem­
porarily in these occupations during the summer,
and the quit rate is typically high. The remain­
ing 130,000 newcomers entered other railroad oc­
cupations, most of which ordinarily provide yearround jobs. Since employment in these latter oc­
cupations averaged about 1 million during the
year, 1 new entrant was hired for about every 8
of these workers.9
Opportunities for newcomers in railroading are
not limited to boom years such as 1946. Although
in less prosperous years fewer new workers are
hired, there are still thousands of openings re­
sulting from deaths, retirements, and other types
of turn-over. In 1940, for example, when the
country had millions of unemployed, class I roads
took on 48,000 new entrants in occupations other
than track work and laboring jobs. But total
employment in these occupations increased by
31.000 during the year, so only 17,000 could be
counted as replacements. This was about 1 re­
placement for every 47 employees on the average
monthly pay roll in the typically year-round oc­
cupations, a very much smaller proportion than
in 1946.
If there should be a major business recession
and therefore a sharp drop in railroad traffic and
employment, the number of opportunities for new­
comers would be drastically reduced. Lay-offs
would be heavy, and furloughed workers have
first claim on any job openings arising in their
seniority districts. Even in bad years, however,
conditions in the industry are likely to vary con­
siderably from road to road and from one part
of the country to another, and there will be some
openings for newcomers.
9 The employment figure used in deriving this ratio was an
average of 12 mid-month counts as reported to the Interstate
Commerce Commission. If the number of new entrants is com­
pared to the total number employed in these occupations during
the year (1,225,000) as computed by the Railroad Retirement
Board, the ratio is 1 new entrant for every 10 employees.

Labor Organization

Men going to work on the railroads will find
that most workers in the industry belong to labor
unions. They will also discover that wage rates,
hours of work, seniority, apprenticeship, and
many other matters affecting their jobs are estab­
lished by contracts arrived at through collective
bargaining between the unions and the railroad
companies.
The organizations of railroad workers include
some of the oldest and strongest unions in the
country. One of them, the Brotherhood of Loco­
motive Engineers, dates back to the Civil War,
when a group of engineers banded together in an
association called at first the “Brotherhood of
the Footboard.” The conductors, firemen, brakemen, and most other important railway crafts also
formed unions before 1900. During World War
I these railroad unions grew rapidly, as did those
in many other industries. They lost ground tem­
porarily in the 1920’s, following the unsuccessful
shopmen’s strike of 1922, but these losses have
been much more than made up. The Bailway
Labor Act of 1926 gave railroad workers “the
right to organize and bargain collectively through
representatives of their own choosing,” and by
amendments enacted in 1934 provided penalties
for interference with this right by the railroad
companies. Since the mid-1930’s, the proportion
of employees covered by union contracts has risen
greatly. Today, the vast majority of workers in
the industry are covered by collective agreements.
To join a railroad union, a worker must be in
a job within the union’s jurisdiction, and must be
of good moral character. Other requirements for
membership vary widely from union to union.
A number of railroad unions accept only men. A
few admit only white persons; some admit nonwhites to auxiliary locals. Those that have age
requirements for admission specify minimum ages
ranging from 16 to 21 and maximum ages ranging
from 55 to 70; many railroad unions do not set
any age limits.
The railroad unions have negotiated a tremen­
dous number of separate collective agreements, as
table 1 shows. About 3,000 contracts with class I
roads and 1,500 with smaller roads and switch­
ing and terminal companies were in effect in mid1948. Most of these contracts cover workers in



only one occupation or a group of closely related
occupations on individual railroad systems. In
the last few years, however, these contracts have
been amended to incorporate general agreements
on wages and vacation provisions covering vir­
tually the entire industry.
Among the most important provisions in each
agreement are the seniority rules. Once a worker
gets a job with a railroad, these rules affect his
whole career.
The general rule followed in filling jobs below
the supervisory level is: “Where ability and quali­
fications are sufficient, seniority will prevail.”
As vacancies occur they are listed on a bulletin
board. All qualified workers who are interested
may “bid” for the job, which goes to the applicant
who is highest on the seniority list. When lay­
offs have to be made the workers with the shortest
service are furloughed (laid off with reinstate­
ment rights), and furloughed employees are rein­
stated in order of their seniority.
Workers usually do not have seniority rights
over an entire railroad system, but only within
a seniority district specified in the union contract.
For train and engine crews, the seniority district
is generally the railroad “division” where they
are located (such as the “Milwaukee division” and
the “LaCrosse and Biver division”). This is true
also for many telegraphers. In the case of maintenance-of-equipment workers, seniority rights
are usually confined to one shop or locality. For
maintenance-of-way laborers, they are generally
Number of labor agreements, by type of company and
labor organization, June 30, 1948 1
Type of carrier
Total._ _________________ ____
Line-haul railroads:
Class I. _ . _ _____________
Class II______________________
Class III_____________________
Switching and terminal companies__
Railway Express Agency, Inc., and
Pullman Co _ _
__ __

All National System Local
unions unions associa­ unions 3
tions 2
4, 571

4,044

451

76

3,068
634
113
743

2, 748
544
96
646

266
88
15
79

54
2
2
18

13

10

3

1 Fourteenth Annual Report of the National Mediation Board, for the
fiscal year ended June 30, 1948 (pp. 53-54).
2 A system association is one representing the workers on a single carrier
or system of carriers.
3 A local union is one which confines its activities to one region of the
country. It is not affiliated with a national union, but it may hold a Federal
charter from the American Federation of Labor.

n

limited to one district. For clerks, they may ap­
ply to an operating division or district, or, in some
cases, an office or department. Dining-car em­
ployees, on the other hand, frequently have sys­
tem-wide seniority rights.

As previously mentioned, other important sub­
jects covered in the contracts include rates of pay
and hours of work, as well as vacations and many
other conditions of employment. These subjects
will be discussed in the sections which follow.

Earnings and Working Conditions
Hours of Work

On September 1, 1949, the standard workweek
for most ‘‘nonoperating” railroad employees will
be cut from 48 to 40 hours. This change, the re­
sult of an agreement between the railroads and the
unions representing nonoperating workers, will
make the basic workweek for the majority of rail­
roaders the same as in other major nonagricultural industries. The Fair Labor Standards Act
of 1938 established a basic 40-hour week in in­
dustries engaged in interstate commerce but speci­
fically exempted railroad workers.
After the 40-hour week becomes effective, many
nonoperating employees will still work more than
40 hours a week, with time and one-half for work
beyond 40 hours weekly or above 8 hours a day.
In the railroad industry there are many positions
requiring long periods of training which must
be manned around the clock, 7 days a week. It
will not be possible to immediately reduce the
working hours of all employees in these jobs by
hiring new, untrained workers.
Other nonoperating workers, mainly dining-car
cooks, waiters, and Pullman porters, have no
set workday or workweek but instead have a
standard number of hours per month. The new
agreement effective September 1, 1949, specifies
205 hours per month for dining-car employees, as
compared with 240 hours under the old schedule.
However, straight-time rates will be paid for
hours between 205 and 240 a month; premium pay
at the rate of time and one-half will be given for
work beyond 240 hours. Pullman porters are not
covered by the agreement, but in the spring of
1949 their union was negotiating for the same
basic 205-hour month.
The new work schedule does not apply to “op­
erating” employees—train and engine crews and
yard workers. They will continue to work under
the present arrangements. For train and engine
crews in road freight and passenger service, the
12



rules governing the length of the workday, are
complex. They also differ from one occupation
to another. In general, when the worker has
“run” a specified number of miles or done a certain
number of hours’ work—whichever happens
first—he is considered to have completed a “basic
day’s work” ; additional pay is given for any extra
work beyond that point. Train and engine crews
in yard service and other yard workers are gen­
erally paid time and one-half for any work beyond
8 hours in a single day, though they do not receive
premium pay for work on the sixth or seventh
day in the week.
Because the shippers and traveling public must
be served continuously, many stations are open
24 hours a day and trains, roundhouses, and other
facilities operate at all hours. Hence, in a good
many occupations, some employees must work at
night. The employees affected include engineers,
firemen, conductors, brakemen, hostlers, telephone
and telegraph operators, shop workers, clerks, and
many others. Rates of pay for night work are no
higher than for day work.
Earnings

With so many different occupational groups
employed—ranging in skill from common labor­
ers to craftsmen and professional and adminis­
trative employees—rates of pay in the industry
vary widely. Wage rates depend not only on the
degree of skill and length of experience required
to perform a job satisfactorily but also on the
amount of responsibility for safe and efficient
railroad operations involved in the work and on
many other factors.
Earnings data for many occupations are pre­
sented in later sections of this report. For operat­
ing employees, the rates given are those in effect
when this report was prepared in the spring of
1949.
For most nonoperating employees the hourly

wages cited are those the workers will receive after
they go on a 40-hour week in September 1949.
The rates include the 7-cents-an-hour increase
granted (retroactive to October 1948) by unionmanagement agreement signed in the spring of
1949. In addition, a 20-percent increase will be
given in all hourly and daily rates (exclusive of
the general increase of 7 cents an hour) in order
to provide 48 hours’ pay for 40 hours’ work. Non­
operating workers will thus earn about 26 percent
more per hour in September 1949 than they were
making in September 1948.
Pensions, O llier Benefits, and Vacations

Railroad workers are provided “valuable bene­
fits on very favorable terms,” under the Railroad
Retirement Act and the Railroad Unemployment
Insurance Act,11
When they reach 65 years of age, all railroad
employees become eligible to retire on a pension,
the amount of which depends on their earnings
and length of service. The average monthly
amount paid to annuitants is now about $84, which
is much more than the average amount received
by workers retiring under the social security
system.
If railroad workers have had 30 years’ service,
they may retire at 60 (on full pension if they are
women, on a lower pension than they would get
at 65 if they are men). Provision is made also
for payments of annuities to disabled employees
after 10 years of service and for payment of death
benefits or annuities to the survivors of insured
workers. The amount of the annuities paid to a
jetired or disabled employee depends only on his
earnings and length of service; the amount of

death benefits or annuities depends also on the com­
position of the worker’s family. Employers and
employees contribute equally to the financing of
these pensions and benefits.12
When a railroad worker becomes unemployed
he has protection at that time also—more generous
protection than is given workers in other indus­
tries by most State compensation laws. After an
initial waiting period of 14 days, he is entitled
to receive benefits ranging from $1.75 to $5 a day,
depending on how much he has been earning. The
same benefits are paid for workdays lost because
of sickness or injury, whether or not the injury
had any connection with the employee’s job. The
maximum number of days for which a worker may
receive either unemployment or sickness benefit
is 130 a year. Both types of benefits are financed
wholly by contributions from the railroad
companies.
Vacation and holiday policies are fixed by union
contracts. Train and engine crew^s are allowed
7 days’ paid vacation a year after 1 year of serv­
ice. Most other employees receive 5-day paid
vacations after their first year on the pay roll
and 10-day vacations after the fifth year, al­
though clerks and telegraphers are allowed 5,
7%, and 10 days’ paid vacation after 1, 2, and
3 years of service, respectively. Each year must
include at least 134 days of compensated serv­
ice. As a rule, railroad workers have no paid
holidays, but if they are required to work on
legal holidays they receive one and one-half times
their regular rates.
All railroad workers receive certain free trans­
portation privileges, which become more liberal
as years of service with the company increase.

How to Enter Railroad W ork

Anyone interested in a career in railroading
should stop and consider, “Do I have the proper
qualifications?”
Good physical condition is required for most
jobs; applicants generally have to pass physical
examinations before they are hired. The stand­
11U. S. Railroad Retirement Board, The Monthly Review,
March 1947, p. 68.
12 During 1949, 1950, and 1951 the companies and the workers
will each pay a 6-percent tax on wages (up to $300 a month).
Thereafter the rate will be 614 percent.
839465°— 49


-3

ards with regard to vision and hearing are par­
ticularly strict in the case of applicants for train
and engine service jobs and certain other occu­
pations where good sight and hearing are essen­
tial for safety. Color blindness is an absolute
bar to employment in any type of work involving
interpretation of signals.
A high-school education is desired for most
occupations; specialized technical education is
needed for a few jobs. In addition, employers
13

notice an applicant’s general bearing and neat­
ness of appearance, particularly if he is seeking
a job which will involve meeting the public, and
look for reliability as an essential characteristic
of every railroad employee. The duties of many
railroad workers are such that they cannot be
under constant, direct supervision by company
officials. And they all play a part in keeping
the railroads operating safely and efficiently.
They must be clear-headed and dependable at all
times, able to stand on their own feet and to think
straight in emergencies.
All prospective railroad workers need also a
real interest in railroading to achieve success.
The railroader often expresses this idea by talk­
ing about how his work “gets in his blood.” This
is one of the reasons why there are so many
“railroad families,” with son, father, and grand­
father working for the same company. The
roads frequently give preference to job appli­
cants with the necessary qualifications who have
relatives employed by the company.
Workers entering the railroad industry prac­
tically always have to start at the bottom of their
particular occupational ladder. It is general
railroad policy to fill vacancies farther up the
ladder by promoting men already employed by
the company. Even top executive positions are
usually filled by men with many years of railroad
experience.
Further information on the qualifications needed
for many different occupations—as well as on
duties, lines of promotion, employment prospects,
earnings, and working conditions—are given in
following sections of this report. The informa­
tion given refers to the country as a whole, how­
ever. To find out about opportunities in a par­

14



ticular locality, an applicant might go to the
nearest office of the Railroad Retirement Board;
these offices are located in about 100 cities through­
out the Nation. Some railroads have centralized
employment offices in principal cities. Applicants
may also go to the nearest railroad station and ask
for the name and address of the official to whom
they should apply. In general, the officials to
whom workers should go to apply for jobs are as
follows:
Occupation

Apply to

—

Fireman__ ___________ Road foreman.
Brakeman_____________ Division superintendent, train­
master, or yardmaster.
Hostler_______________ Roundhouse foreman or master
mechanic.
Switch tender________ Yardmaster.
Pullman conductor or Pullman Co. employment office.
porter.
Dining-car c o o k or Superintendent of dining-car de­
waiter.
partment.
Telegraph operator___ Superintendent of telegraph or
chief dispatcher.
Towerman____________ Signal supervisor, division super­
intendent, or chief dispatcher.
General-office clerk____ Central employment office or in­
dividual offices, such as aud­
itor’s office or station agent’s
office.
Redcap_______________ Stationmaster or terminal super­
intendent.
Carman, machinist, boil- Shop or roundhouse foreman or
e r m a k e r, electrical master mechanic.
w o r k e r , sheet-metal
worker, or blacksmith.
Track laborer or road­ Section foreman, track super­
way-machine operator. visor, or roadmaster.
Bridge and building me­ Bridge and building foreman or
chanic.
division master carpenter.
Signal worker----------- Signal foreman, signal super­
visor, or signal engineer.

Railroad Occupations
DUTIES, Q U A L IF IC A T IO N S , O U T L O O K , E A R N IN G S , W O R K IN G C O N D IT IO N S

Train, Engine, and Yard Service

A whistling locomotive and the men who wave
their greetings from it are, to many people, sym­
bols of the railroad industry. The man on the
right-hand side of the cab is the engineer. On
the left is his assistant, the fireman. Together
these two make up the engine crew. They work
very closely with another team known as the train
crew, which includes the conductor and generally
two or three brakemen. On a passenger train
there may also be a baggageman and, if the train
is expected to be crowded, an assistant conductor.
Two other groups doing related work are the
switch tenders, who are stationed at strategic
points in the yards, and the hostlers, who handle
locomotives in and around the engine houses.
Locomotive Firemen and Helpers

In 1948 about 58,000 locomotive firemen were
employed on class I railroads. About half
these men were on freight trains; over a third
were in yard work—on the switching engines
which move cars around as required in serving
various industries, and in making up and break­
ing up trains and classifying cars—and the re­
maining seventh were in passenger service.
Besides the firemen on class I roads, there are a
few thousand who work for smaller line-haul rail­
ways, for switching and terminal companies, or in
such industries as coal and metal mining, quarry­
ing, and iron and steel manufacturing, where large
companies often have their own plant railways for
use in transporting their products to the nearest
railroad line.
The occupation of fireman got its name in the
day when all locomotives burned coal or wood and
had to be stoked by hand. On an engine of this
kind, the fireman has the extremely heavy, hot
job of shoveling coal from the tender into the fire­
box, taking care to distribute it well so that the
fire will burn properly. Over two-thirds of the
locomotives now in use, however, are mechanically
stoked, oil burning, or electric, and hand-fired loco­
motives are becoming fewer. This development



has meant a revolutionary change in the work of
the fireman. Physical labor has been reduced; on
an oil-burning or mechanically stoked engine the
fireman (or “helper”) regulates the flow of fuel
by operating certain valves. On the other hand,
higher-speed trains and complicated modern loco­
motives have increased the responsibility and skill
involved in much of the fireman’s work.
Every fireman or helper has to be prepared to
take over at any moment in case the engineer
should suddenly become sick or disabled. The
fireman’s ability to take emergency charge of the
train may be all that saves it from disaster. He
also has to watch the engine gages and must be
able to detect engine trouble at once; on Diesel
locomotives, this work requires greater mechanical
knowledge and skill than on old-style steam
engines.
Keeping a look-out for obstructions on the track
and for the frequent wayside signals, which indi­
cate whether the train may proceed at full speed
or whether it must stop or slow down,13 is another
important part of a fireman’s job. He, as well as
the engineer, is held responsible for any accident
due to failure to obey signals. While rounding
curves the fireman is expected to look back for
such things as hotboxes and dragging equipment.
On freight trains, he also has to watch the rear
end of the train for signals conveying orders from
the conductor; members of the crew generally give
these signals by hand or with a lantern or flag,
since freight trains do not have the mechanism
for signaling the engineer which is installed on
passenger trains. Radiotelephones, which make
it possible for the conductor in the caboose to talk
with the engineer in the locomotive cab, have been
installed on a few trains and will be used
increasingly.
Qualifications and Lines of Promotion

Applicants for fireman jobs have to pass medical
examinations, with very rigid standards as to eye­
sight and hearing. On most roads they must be
13 See p. 31, footnote 19, for a brief description of railroad
signals.
15

at least 21 years of age and not more than 27. A
high-school education or its equivalent is required
by most railroad companies.
A new fireman must make trial trips for a brief
period lasting only 10 days or even less on some
roads; as much as 3 weeks on others. After this,
he begins on the “extra board,” which is a list of
workers who take assignments in order as men are
needed. He may remain on extra work for sev­
eral months or longer before he obtains a regular
assignment. On roads which do not have separate
seniority lists for yard and road service, firemen
may progress from yard to freight service and
eventually to passenger work, where hourly pay is
highest. Some men, however, prefer to remain in
yard service, because a “yard bird” has the chance
to live a more regular home life.
A fireman may qualify as an engineer in 3 or
4 years, but ordinarily he has to have much more
seniority than that to bid successfully for an en­
gineer assignment. Before the war, a fireman
often had to wait 10 to 15 years to become an en­
gineer. After that he was likely to spend several
years on the engineers’ extra board, working ir­
regularly, and might have to go back to firing
again if traffic fell off in his division.
While on the job, the fireman should be con­
stantly absorbing the knowledge and obtaining the
skills which will make him eligible for a locomo­
tive engineer’s job and fit him to take the engi­
neer’s place in case of emergency. There are
many different types of locomotives, ranging from
small hand-fired switching engines to giant 4-unit
Diesels; a fireman is expected to graduate as an
engineer able to operate any locomotive in service
on his road. As a rule, he must take progressive ex­
aminations on engine machinery, air brakes, fuel
economy, time tables, train orders, and other oper­
ating rules at specified intervals. If he fails to
pass after several tries, he may be dismissed.
Outlook

There will probably be moderate numbers of
openings for newcomers in “firing” jobs every
year except when business conditions are very
bad. In this large occupation several thousand
men quit, are promoted, or leave for other reasons
each year and must be replaced. During 1946,
7,400 new entrants were taken on as firemen by
class I roads.
16



Over the long run, employment will probably
tend to decline in this occupation. Increasing
use of powerful new Diesel engines will cut down
employment of firemen, because the same amount
of traffic can be hauled with fewer engines and
engine crews, especially in mountainous areas
where the extra “helper” engines can be elimi­
nated. The resulting decreases in the numbers
of firemen needed are expected to come about
slowly on many roads, somewhat faster on others.
On all roads using Diesels, however, there would
be a great change in job prospects if the efforts
being made by the firemen’s union to secure the
employment of a second fireman on multiple-unit
Diesels should be successful.
A major decline in business activity would mean
a marked drop in the number of firemen needed.
In addition, firemen would be bumped by engi­
neers who had to go back to firing, and many fire­
men at the bottom of the seniority lists would have
to be laid off. Thus, the burden of a reduction
in employment of engine crews is borne entirely
by the firemen, unless lay-offs are so heavy that
all firemen on a particular seniority list have been
furloughed.
Earnings and Hours of Work

Yard firemen had a basic daily rate of $11.29
on the lightest locomotives used in yard work in
early 1949. On heavier locomotives their rates
were higher; the average rate was about $11.58.
They have a basic 8-hour day, and for work
beyond 8 hours they are paid one and one-half
times their regular hourly rates.
In road service, both hours worked and miles
run play a role in determining the earnings of
firemen. The combination of these two factors
has led to the popular, although not exactly ac­
curate, characterization of the system of wage pay­
ment for road engine-and-train-service employees
as the “dual” basis of pay system. This system,
which has evolved over many years, is comparable
in some respects to piecework and incentive wage
systems used by many manufacturing companies.
All road firemen have basic daily wage rates
which vary with the weight and type of locomo­
tive and class of service. In early 1949 in freight
service, daily rates started at $11.07 and ranged
up to around $14 for work on some of the heavi­

est locomotives in use. In passenger service,
firemen were assured earnings of at least $11.08
a day, and basic daily rates went above $11.50 on
some of the biggest locomotives in service.
Men who run more than 100 miles in 1 day get
additional mileage pay. A fireman gets overtime
if the average speed of his train is less than his
“speed basis”—which is 1%y2 miles an hour for
freight firemen, 20 miles an hour for passenger
firemen.14 Primarily because of extra mileage on
fast runs in passenger and through-freight serv­
ice, and because of the long hours of work in local
and way-freight service, where trains have to
make many stops and have low average speeds,
the men frequently earn more than their basic
daily rates.
How does this pay system work out in practice ?
Suppose, for example, that a freight fireman’s
daily rate is $12. If this man’s run is 100
miles and he finishes it in 8 hours or less, he gets
$12. Had he made a longer run at higher
speeds—covering, say 125 miles in 7 hours—he
would have been paid for 125 miles of work at
the rate of 12 cents a mile (his daily rate divided
by the basic 100 miles), or a total of $15. He
would receive no more if the run took up to 10
hours, illustrating why men performing service on
fast trains have higher earnings for every hour on
the road than those on slower ones.
The amount road firemen may earn in a month
is generally restricted by “mileage limitations,”
agreed upon by the unions and the railroad com­
panies. If a fireman reaches the top mileage
limit, he lays off for the balance of the month
while another man takes over his assignment.
Men with regular runs have the best chance of
reaching the maximum mileage allowed. Con­
versely firemen on extra boards, where the junior
men start out, tend to have less work and lower
incomes than those with regular assignments.
The amount of work for firemen also varies from
one season of the year to another on many roads;
on northern ore-carrying roads, for example,
there is likely to be less work in winter than in
summer whereas on roads serving Florida, traffic
is heaviest in winter.

Since trains run at all hours of the day and
night, firemen often have to do night work. This
is true for many senior men with regular assign­
ments as well as for those who are on extra boards.
Extra work has the further disadvantage of in­
volving very irregular hours. Men on extra
boards are on call at all times and must work
whenever and wherever they are needed.
Road service often requires firemen to be away
from their home stations overnight. When away
from home, they pay their own living expenses.
Working Conditions and Hazards

Intense heat from the firebox, swirling cinders
and dust from the open cab windows, great noise,
and treacherous footing—these are part of the
daily working environment of men on hand-fired
locomotives. In winter, the fireman is exposed
to extreme changes of temperature. He has to
move from the intense heat of the firebox to the
cold draft of the cab seat, where he has to lean
out of the window and watch for signals. He
may also have to go from work at the open fire­
box into the wintry outdoors, when coal or water
has to be taken on. In summer, outside tem­
peratures of 80°, 90°, or more take the place of
cold winds and drifting snow, raising the temper­
ature in the cab to the sizzling point.15
The surroundings in the cab of a Diesel-electric
locomotive are very different. There is of course
no firebox. The ride is likely to be less bumpy
and, since doors and windows can be closed, there
is much less draft, fewer flying cinders, and less
noise. However, the greater speed of the new
locomotives means that there is greater nerve
strain in watching for signals.
As to the danger of accident involved in fire­
men’s work, those on passenger trains are injured
more frequently than most other groups of rail­
road workers. There are only a very few other
railroad occupations in which fatal injuries are
as frequent as among passenger firemen. The
accident risk is less in freight service, particu­
larly local and way freight, and still less in yard
work.

14 For firemen, as for other road-service employees, the speed
basis is computed by dividing the number of miles by the number
15 Characteristics, Duties, and Requirements of Railroad Em­
ployment (mimeographed), available from Railway Labor Execu­
of hours constituting a basic day’s work. In the case of freight
firemen, this would be 100 miles divided by 8 hours ; in the case
tives Association, 10 Independence Ave. SW., Washington 4,
of passenger firemen, 100 miles divided by 5 hours.
D. C. (pp. 14-18) ; and Railway Age, December 15, 1945 (p. 968).



17

Labor Organization

Workers in this occupation are covered, by union
contracts on all major railroads. They are repre­
sented mainly by the Brotherhood of Locomotive
Firemen and Enginemen; in some cases, by the
Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers.
Locomotive Engineers

The engineer of a 6,000-horsepower modern loco­
motive drives a machine capable of pulling as much
gross weight as 100 of the biggest trucks.16 His
machine can pull over 1,000 tons of trailing load at
a speed of 100 miles an hour in passenger service,
or over 4,000 tons at 50 miles an hour in freight
service. The man operating such an engine or
even an older-type locomotive with half the power,
obviously carries great responsibility for life and
property.
An engineer is held acountable for the efficient
and safe operation of his engine. Before each
run, he carefully inspects the locomotive and
checks the supply of fuel, water, sand, and other
items needed for the trip. En route, he operates
the throttle, air brake, and other controls and
watches to see that the track is clear, noting the
position or color of every signal and checking his
reading of it with the fireman to make sure he has
observed it accurately. He must obey signals in­
stantly. If he should delay in applying his brakes
when approaching a “stop'’ signal, for example,
his engine might go thundering into the rear of a
train ahead.
While on the road the engineer instructs the
fireman, as necessary, regarding the steam pressure
which should be maintained in the boiler, train
orders, operating rules, and other subjects. At the
end of the run he checks the engine again and
makes out a report on any mechanical defects
(such as sticking brakes) which need attention.
In addition he states the reasons for any unsched­
uled stops or delays.
Most locomotive engineers—about 56,000 in
1948—-are employed by class I roads. A fewTwork
for small railroads and other types of companies.
On the major roads engineers are divided among
the different types of service in about the same
proportion as firemen (see p. 15).
16 States with the highest maximum limits permit truck and
load gross weight of about 35,000 pounds.
18



Engineer operating controls of modern Diesel-electric locomotive.

Lines of Promotion

When a fireman is promoted to engineer he
starts out on the engineers’ extra board, and later,
gets a regular assignment. The usual line of ad­
vancement is from yard work to road freight serv­
ice and, finally, to passenger service, except on
lines which have separate seniority lists for yard
and road service. On these railroads yard firemen
become and remain yard engineers, while road
firemen move directly to “extra” work as engineers
in road service. The men with greatest seniority,
who have their choice of the available jobs, are fre­
quently found on the new Diesel locomotives.
Some “old-timers,” however, prefer to remain on
the older steam engines where the work is more
exciting and not “too easy.” A few engineers in
road service may work up to supervisory positions
such as road foreman of engines and other
positions.
Outlook

Openings for new engineers are filled by pro­
motion of qualified firemen on a strict seniority
basis. During the war the great increase in traffic
and the loss of some engineers to the armed forces
led to much faster promotions than in the prewar
period, when firemen usually had to wait many
years for an engineer assignment. With the drop
in traffic and the return of servicemen since V Jday, promotions have slowed down. They will

probably continue to be slow over the long run,
since employment of engineers is expected to have
a downward trend. Nevertheless, turn-over will
probably create a few thousand openings each
year.
Men who accumulate enough seniority to become
engineers have much job security, as long as they
are able to pass the strict physical examinations
required at regular intervals. If they fail to meas­
ure up to the physical standards at any time, they
may be restricted to certain types of service (which
may pay less than their previous assignments) or,
in some cases, they may be removed from service
altogether. Also, if traffic should decline sub­
stantially, some engineers with regular runs would
have to go back to extra work, extra engineers
would be likely to have less work and lower earn­
ings, and some of the junior men would be bumped
off the engineers’ extra board and have to become
firemen again.
Earnings and Working Conditions

Yard engineers are paid on a daily basis like
yard firemen. Earnings of engineers in road serv­
ice are based on the same system of wage payment
as those of road firemen (see p. 16).
In each class of locomotive, of course, the rate
of pay for the engineer is higher than that for his
fireman. In early 1949, engineers had a basic
daily rate of $12.97 on the lightest locomotives used
in yard work, as compared with $11.29 for fire­
men. On bigger yard locomotives daily wage
rates were higher. Engineers, like other yard em­
ployees, have a basic 8-hour day, and for work
beyond 8 hours they are paid one and one-half
times their regular hourly rates.
Basic daily rates for engineers in freight service
started at $12.97 and ranged up to around $16 on
some of the biggest locomotives in early 1949. In
passenger service, engineers had assured earnings
of $12.97; the highest rate was around $13.50 on a
few giant engines. Engineers frequently operate
trains over greater distances than their basic daily
mileages and thus increase their earnings for the
trip. In local and way-freight service, they, like
firemen, may have very long working hours with
pay for overtime under some circumstances (see
p. 16).
Engineers on extra boards work very irregularly,
at any hour of the day or night when they happen



to be needed. They are also likely to have less
work and lower earnings than men with regular
assignments.
Primarily because of extra mileage in passen­
ger and through-freight service and because of
long hours of work in local and way-freight serv­
ice, the men frequently earn more than their basic
daily rates. Like other members of train and
engine crews, engineers have to pay their own liv­
ing expenses while on duty away from their home
bases.
Engineers are injured somewhat less frequently
than firemen in the same type of service.
Labor Organization

Union contracts covering locomotive engineers
are in effect on all major roads. On most roads
the engineers are represented by the Brotherhood
of Locomotive Engineers. But on some they have
chosen the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen
and Enginemen, or, occasionally, still another
union as their collective bargaining agent.
Brakemen

The occupation of brakeman is by far the largest
one in the train and engine service group. (See
chart 1.) In 1948 about 113,000 men were em­
ployed in this occupation on class I roads; a few
thousand more worked for switching and other
companies.
Yard brakemen (often known as switchmen or
yard helpers) assist in making up and breaking
up trains, riding on the cars to control them as
they are shunted about the yards. They apply
hand brakes to stop the cars, couple and uncouple
cars and air hose, and throw track switches, be­
sides handling other duties. About one of every
two brakemen is engaged in this type of work.
The men in road freight service are the next
largest group; they include over two-fifths of all
brakemen. Freight trains usually carry at least
two brakemen and sometimes more. One of them,
the rear brakeman or “flagman,” rides in the ca­
boose. It is his job to protect the end of the
train from being run into during stops or delays.
When a stop occurs between stations, he goes back
along the track on foot and signals by waving a
flag or “starting the fireworks” (putting a lan­
tern or fusee by the track or placing a torpedo
19

Flagman signaling to protect rear of train which has stopped.

on the rail, where it will explode when an on­
coming locomotive hits it). The “head” brakeman rides in the locomotive cab. During stops,
the head brakeman attends to the work of pick­
ing up or setting off cars, detaches the engine
from the train for the purpose of taking on coal
and water, and inspects the head of the train. He
protects the head end of the train by flag when
necessary under emergency operating conditions.
Other duties of freight brakemen include keep­
ing a sharp lookout for smoke from hotboxes or
other signs of trouble on the train, signaling from
one end of the train to the other (as shown in
the picture), setting hand brakes, and throwing
switches.
Passenger brakemen (often known as trainmen)
perform many of these same tasks, look after
the needs of passengers, and may help to collect
tickets and assist the conductor in other ways.
Less than 1 out of 10 brakemen is in passenger
service, a smaller proportion than among fire­
men, engineers, or conductors.
Qualifications and Lines of Promotion

Applicants are usually required to be at least
21 years of age (only 18 on some roads) and not
older than 28 or 30. Physical and educational
requirements are similar to those for firemen. (See
20



p. 15). Student brakemen make 3 to 10 trips
under the instruction of a brakeman or conductor.
After this brief period, they usually start out on
the extra board, although it takes a long time to
learn the job thoroughly. From the extra board,
they move to other assignments in the same way
as firemen.
To qualify as conductors, brakemen need at least
2 or 3 years’ experience. They must pass written
and oral examinations covering signals, time­
tables, brake systems, operating rules, and other
subjects. On some roads those failing to pass
examinations after several tries may be dismissed.
Promotions are made according to seniority rules
as openings occur, and a man may have to wait
10 years or more for his first assignment as con­
ductor. Brakemen may also bid for baggageman
jobs and, on many roads, may transfer from yard
work to road freight service and eventually to
passenger work—which is generally considered the
most desirable, since it is cleaner and less strenu­
ous and usually means shorter working hours.
Occasionally men prefer to stay in yard service,
however, to avoid the many nights away from
home which may be necessary on road freight and
passenger runs. A few others wish to stay in
freight service, where they do not have to “dress
up” in uniform and cater to the passengers.
Outlook

There are likely to be many more opportunities
for newcomers in brakeman than in fireman jobs,
not only because the former occupation is much the
larger of the two but also because the proportion
of jobs left vacant each year owing to turn-over
is higher among brakemen than among firemen.
In 1946 about 18.000 new entrants were hired as
brakemen by class I roads, compared with 7,400
hired as firemen.
As with firemen, employment of brakemen will
probably decrease over the long run, although re­
ductions in hours worked may at times have a
counteracting effect. Introduction of improved
methods of handling yard traffic, including radio­
telephone communications between yardmasters
and crews, will reduce the number of yard brakemen needed to handle a given amount of traffic.
Longer trains with heavier loads, made possible
by the use of improved locomotives and cars, will
reduce the number of road brakemen needed to

handle a given amount of tonnage. Decreases in
employment are likely to come about slowly, how­
ever, provided that general business conditions
remain good. But if there should be a major de­
cline in business activity large numbers of brakemen would have to be laid off, and employment of
brakemen would drop sharply; in addition, many
would be bumped by conductors who had to go
back to braking.
Earnings and Working Conditions

Yard brakemen on most roads had a basic daily
wage rate of $12.06 and a daily earnings guaran­
tee of $12.26 in early 1949. They have a basic 8liour day, and for work beyond 8 hours they are
paid one and one-half times their regular hourly
rate.
In road service, earnings of brakemen are deter­
mined in the same manner as those of road fire­
men and engineers. (See p. 16.) For brakemen in
through-freight service, basic daily wage rates in
early 1949 were $10.64 on eastern roads and $10.59
on western roads. In local and way-freight serv­
ice the rates were $11.07 and $11.02, respectively.
Men who run more than 100 miles in 1 day get
additional mileage pay.
Brakemen in passenger service had a basic daily
wage rate of $10.49 in the East and $10.45 in the
West in early 1949. Those on eastern roads were
guaranteed that their total earnings would not be
lt*ss than $10.79 for any workday and not less than
$614.70 monthly. On western roads, the guaran­
teed amounts were $10.75 and $616.50, respec­
tively. In passenger service, additional mileage
pay does not begin to accrue until after men have
run 150 miles in a day (a longer basic mileage
than in freight service).
A brakeman gets premium pay for overtime if
the average speed of his train is less than his
“speed basis,” which is 12y2 miles per hour in
freight service, 20 miles per hour for passenger
brakemen.17 As in the case of engine crews, extra
mileage in passenger and through-freight service
and long hours of work in local and way freight
service frequently enable men to earn more than
their basic daily rates.
17 The speed basis for brakemen and conductors is computed by
dividing the number of miles by the number of hours constitut­
ing a basic day’s work. In the case of freight train crews, this
would bo 100 miles divided by 8 hours; in the case of passenger
train crews 150 miles divided by 7 ^ hours.
889465°— 49


-4

The newer brakemen, who are on extra work,
tend to have lower earnings than men who have
secured regular assignments. They also work
very irregular hours. Like other members of
train and engine crews, brakemen have to pay
their own living expenses while on duty away
from their home bases.
Another important fact about brakemen’s work­
ing conditions is that men in yard and freight
service face a considerable accident risk. Yard
brakemen are injured more often, per million man­
hours worked, than any other major group of rail­
road workers; the accident rate among freight
brakemen is not quite as high. Passenger brakemen are not injured as frequently as these two
groups but, like most train and engine service work­
ers, they have a much higher accident rate than
railroad workers as a whole.
Getting on and off moving cars and locomotives
is the most frequent cause of accidents in this oc­
cupation. Brakemen perform this dangerous
maneuver many times a day—yard brakemen most
often and passenger brakemen least. The chances
of slipping and falling are multiplied when getting
on or off trains on dark nights, in rain, sleet, or
snow, or in subzero temperature. Brakemen also
suffer many accidents while operating switches
and hand brakes and coupling and uncoupling cars.
Labor Organization

Brakemen are highly unionized. They are
represented mainly by the Brotherhood of Rail­
road Trainmen. However, the Order of Railway
Conductors has organized freight and passenger
brakemen on a few roads; the Switchmen’s Union
of North America holds the contracts for yard
brakemen in certain instances.
Conductors

Every freight and passenger train has a “cap­
tain,” the conductor. He is directly responsible
for the safety of the train and its cargo or pas­
sengers, for carrying out all orders regarding the
operation of the train, and for the work of all
other members of the crew including the engineer.
He must see to it that trips are completed on
schedule, or as nearly so as traffic and other con­
ditions permit. And he must make out the neces­
sary reports on every trip.
21

The large railroad companies employed about
48,000 conductors in 1948, of whom about 20,000
worked on freight trains. A freight conductor's
work begins before his train leaves the terminal.
He has to assure himself that all members of the
crew understand the train orders and that the train
has been thoroughly inspected; he must also check
the waybills, which tell the destination of each
shipment. As he rides along in the caboose, he is
required to enter on an appropriate form or in his
train book the numbers of the cars, their contents,
times of arrival and departure, delays, and such
other information as the individual railroads may
require. In many cases he has to make out a re­
port which later serves as the basis for the com­
pany's audit and for the Interstate Commerce
Commission’s statistics on many aspects of rail­
road operation. He also keeps a lookout for sig­
nals and for train orders at stations18 and may
spend part of the time riding in the small watchtower (or “cupola”) on top of the caboose, from
which he can observe train operations.
Passenger conductors numbered only about 7,500
on class 1 roads in 1948. Like freight conductors,
they have to do preparatory work before the be­
ginning of each run—making sure that all crew
members are on duty, that the train has been prop­
erly inspected and is in good condition, and that
all needed equipment is on board. In addition to
these general responsibilities the conductor, some­
times assisted by a helper conductor, assistant con­
ductor, ticket collector, or brakeman, collects
tickets and cash fares, on which he makes a detailed
report at the end of his run.
There are about as many yard conductors as
freight conductors (about 21,000 on the large rail­
roads in 1948). These men, who are frequently
called yard foremen, have charge of the switching
crews which take trains apart, sort out the cars,
and assemble trains ready for* departure (in ac­
cordance with switching lists given to the con­
ductor by the yardmaster). The yard conductors
have a key role in railroad operations, since in­
efficiency in a congested yard or terminal can throw
an entire railroad system out of gear.
Lines of Promotion

Opening for new conductors are almost always
filled by promoting qualified brakemen (or, in a
18 For a discussion of signals and train orders, see p. 30.

22



few cases, baggagemen) in accordance with senior­
ity rules.
Like other members of train and engine crews,
conductors usually begin on the extra board and
then move to regular assignments. On some roads
a conductor’s seniority is confined either to yard
and road service while other companies have “uni­
versal” seniority. On the latter roads conductors
generally move from yard assignments to freight
service, and finally to passenger service. It takes
many years to reach the top of this ladder, how­
ever. Promotion to still higher supervisory or
administrative jobs is possible for a few experi­
enced and exceptionally able men.
Outlook

Promotion from brakeman to conductor jobs is
expected to be slow in the future, as it was before
the war. In this and other respects, employment
prospects for conductors are much the same as
those for engineers, outlined on p. 18.
Earnings and Working Conditions

Conductors are paid on the same basis as brakemen (see p. 21), but they have, of course, higher
wage rates. The basic day for conductors is the
same as for brakemen. Yard conductors on most
roads had a basic daily wage rate of $12.91 and a
daily earning guarantee of $13.11 in early 1949.
Like other yard workers, they have a basic 8hour day, and for work beyond 8 hours they are
paid one and one-half times their regular rates.
In the eastern part of the country, in early
1949, through-freight conductors had a basic
daily wage rate of $12.06 and local and wayfreight conductors a rate of $12.62; passenger
conductors had a basic daily rate of $12.64 and a
guaranteed minimum of $12.94 daily and $379.20
monthly. Corresponding rates in the western
part of the country were 6 or 7 cents less a day.
Conductors, like brakemen, often earn more:
than their basic rates (see p. 21). Men who are
conductors usually have had many years of serv­
ice and therefore are more likely to have yearround employment than brakemen. Extra-board
conductors, however, like all other train and en­
gine personnel on such duty, have very irregular
working hours, and tend to earn less than con-

ing the run, they sort and arrange the different
articles, and they must see that each one is de­
livered at the proper station. Another duty is
keeping records of the baggage, express packages,
and mail bags put into and taken off the car.
When a train has to stop on the road, the baggage­
man may be required to leave his car (which is
always near the locomotive) and go forward along
the track to signal and thus protect the front end
of the train.
Baggageman jobs are generally filled by brakemen who choose to transfer to this occupation.
The work is considered relatively easy, as com­
pared with that done by brakemen. Frequently,
the jobs are taken by older men or by those who
do not want to assume the responsibilities of a
conductor’s position.
Outlook

Passenger conductor signaling engineer that it is time to start,

ductors with regular runs. Conductors pay their
own living expenses when away from their home
bases.
Labor Organization

There are union contracts covering conductors
on every major railroad. Freight and passenger
conductors are represented mainly by the Order
of Railway Conductors, though in some instances
by the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen. Yard
conductors on the other hand have been organ­
ized largely by the BRT, though on some roads
by the ORC, the Switchmen’s Union of North
America, or a system association or local union.
Train Baggagemen

Baggagemen are part of the train crew on
passenger trains which have baggage cars. They
receive the trunks and other baggage checked by
passengers and, on trains on which express mes­
sengers are not employed, handle articles sent by
express, as they are loaded on at stations. They
also handle mail bags, unless the train carries so
much mail that there is a separate mail car. Dur­



Employment in this small occupation remains
about the same from month to month and year
to year. In 1948 about 4,100 baggagemen were
at work on class I roads, only about 200 more than
before the war (in 1939) and slightly more than
at the war’s peak.
In the long run employment will probably re­
main very stable, assuming that general business
conditions remain good. A few openings will
arise owing to turn-over, but these will continue
to be filled by workers in other train-service jobs.
Earnings and Working Conditions

Baggagemen in Western Association Territory
had a basic daily wage rate of $10.62 and a guaran­
teed minimum of $10.92 daily and $318.60 monthly
in early 1949. In Eastern Association Territory
the corresponding rates were $10.66, $10.96 and
$319.80, respectively. As for other train and en­
gine personnel in road service, their earnings are
based on a combination of daily rates of pay and
mileage rates plus certain allowances (see p. 16).
The Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen repre­
sents the baggagemen on most roads, although on
a few they have been organized by the Order of
Railway Conductors or some other union.
Hostlers

In the early days of railroading, when trains
were beginning to take the place of horse-drawn
23

vehicles, a locomotive was often referred to as an
“iron horse.” Even today, places in an engine
house into which locomotives are driven for serv­
icing and light repairs are known as “stalls,” and
the workers who take the engines in and out of
the stalls and attend to them as needed are called
“hostlers,” after the men who had charge of the
horses at inns and stables in the days of stage
coaches.
Hostlers' duties include taking locomotives to the
coal dock or fuel-oil station for refueling after
they have completed a run; supplying them with
water, lubricating oil, and sand; and servicing
them in other ways. They also deliver engines
which are ready to start a new run, to the engine
crews who will take them on the road.
An inside hostler handles locomotives inside and
around the engine house or on special engine
tracks. An outside hostler may take engines any­
where within the limits of the railroad yard; he
may have to drive them from the station to the
engine house or vice versa and must be acquainted
with the signal systems used on the main tracks.
Outside hostlers have helpers who assist them in
watching for signals and in other tasks.
How to Enter

Some outside-hostler jobs are filled by men who
began as helpers; some inside-hostler jobs, by men
with experience as laborers in the engine house.
More often, however, both types of positions are
filled by men with experience as firemen, who have
been disqualified from that occupation for some
reason (often a limited physical disability) or who
prefer a hostling job near home to a position as
road freight or passenger fireman which will keep
them away from home much of the time.
Hostlers have little chance for advancement to
higher positions; in fact, hostling is often called a
“fixture job.”
Outlook

This is another small occupational group (in
1948 there were about 2,200 outside hostlers, 4,000
inside hostlers, and 1,500 outside hostler helpers
on class I roads). What few job openings occur
each year as a result of turn-over will be filled
mostly by men with railroad experience. Over the
years there is likely to be a slight downward trend
in employment, even assuming continued high
24



traffic levels. Should there be a marked drop in
traffic, employment would fall sharply in this as
in most other railroad occupations.
Earnings and Working Conditions

Outside hostlers had a basic daily rate of $11.97
in early 1949. The rate for inside hostlers was
$11.29 and for outside hostler helpers, $10.08.
Hostlers are highly unionized, like most other
groups of railroad workers. On the great ma­
jority of roads they are covered by the collective
bargaining agreements of the Brotherhood of Lo­
comotive Firemen and Enginemen.
Switch Tenders

The few thousand men in this occupation are
employed in railroad yards to throw certain track
switches. They are stationed near their switches
and do not have to move about very much on the
job.
Switch-tender positions are frequently filled by
men already employed in the yard—often by dis­
abled yard brakemen (or “switchmen”), since the
occupation does not require as much stamina and
agility as most yard work. Yard clerks some­
times take switch-tender jobs; from there, ad­
vancement to yard brakeman is possible.
Switch tender throwing switch in freight yard,

Outlook

In the foreseeable future, openings for newcom­
ers in this small occupation will probably be in the
hundreds annually as long as business conditions
are good. It is expected that over the long run
employment of switch tenders will decline more
rapidly than employment in the industry as a
whole, since hand-operated switches are being re­
placed increasingly by those controlled from a
distance.
Earnings and Working Conditions

Switch tenders are among the lowest-paid work­
ers in the train and engine group. Their basic
daily rates were $10.51 and $10.71 in early 1949.
.The Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen repre­
sents switch tenders on most railroads. However,
in a few cases the agreement covering them was
negotiated by the Switchmen’s Union of North
America or some other organization.
Passenger Service on Trains

Travelers on today’s trains expect many com­
forts and services. They take it for granted that
meals will be available when they are hungry.
Those traveling at night count on having clean,
comfortable beds or reclining seats. On luxury
trains they may ride in an elaborate club car where
drinks and other refreshments are served, and in
some cases even enjoy a movie, dictate to a public
stenographer, or have their hair cut by a skillful
barber.
This list of services tells a story of progress.
Less than a cent in r ago passengers on the few
trains that ran at night had to sit up. Unless they
carried lunches, travelers went hungry until the
end of their journey or until they could get a quick
meal at a station restaurant during a stop. The
forerunner of today’s sleeping cars was introduced
in 1859; a few years later a dining car made its
first run. Now there are not only about 8,000
sleeping cars and 1,500 dining cars but more than
3,000 parlor, club, observation, buffet, and other
special types of passenger cars.
Almost all sleeping cars, including combination
sleeping-club cars, are operated by the Pullman
Company. This company also operates a num­
ber of parlor and other specialized passenger cars.



The railroads operate all the dining cars, and most
of the parlor and business cars.
Pullman conductors, porters and attendants,
and railroad dining-car cooks and waiters are
auxiliary employees carried on passenger trains
which provide sleeping accommodations, food,
and other personalized services to travelers. This
chapter discusses employment opportunities in
these pa ssenger-servi ce occn]>ations.
Pullman Conductors

On sleeping cars and other Pullmans, two men
usually go around together to collect tickets. One
of these is the railroad conductor or brakeman,
who takes each passenger’s railroad ticket. The
other is the Pullman conductor, who collects the
special ticket for the berth, bedroom, or other
space which the passenger is occupying.
Besides collecting tickets, Pullman conductors
are responsible for assigning space to passengers
who come aboard without reservations or who wish
to change their accommodations. They keep rec­
ords of the tickets collected and space assigned.
They also supervise the porters and other em­
ployees on the Pullman cars. Though employed
by the Pullman Co., they are under the supervi­
sion of the railroad conductor during a run.
Qualifications and Lines of Promotion

Pullman conductors are recruited from many
different sources. Clerks in company offices often
transfer to such positions, temporarily or per­
manently. During the depression a number of
college graduates were hired.
Prospective conductors must be able to read
and write and to handle figures and simple book­
keeping, and they must be adept in dealing with
all types of people. Pre-employment physical
examinations are required.
New conductors go through an instruction pe­
riod of not more than 60 days (during which they
are paid at the regular daily rate). After that
they are on probation for 4 months and may be
dismissed without a hearing within this proba­
tionary period. Experienced conductors with
better-than-average ability may advance to minor
supervisory positions; a few go on up the ladder
to still bigger jobs. Also, Pullman conductors
frequently transfer to clerical jobs in Pullman Co.
offices.
25

Outlook

Few job opportunities will be available to new­
comers in this small occupation, which employed
only 2,500 men in June 1948. Like other groups
whose employment depends mainly on first-class
passenger traffic, Pullman conductors will prob­
ably decrease in number over the long run. Even
during prosperous years only a small number of
openings will result from turn-over.

Earnings and Working Conditions

Beginning Pullman conductors earned $323.20
for a basic 225-hour month in early 1949. Pay
increases are given at the end of the first, second,
and fifth years of employment and again after
10 and 15 years of service. Workers with more
than 15 years’ service received $356.20. Over­
time for work over 225 and under 235 hours calls
for straight-time rates; for work over 235 hours
time-and-one-half rates.
The collective bargaining agent for Pullman
conductors is the Order of Railway Conductors
of America.

parlor-car porters, and other passenger-service
workers; in 1948 they employed about 4,400 men
in these types of work.
Qualifications, Training, and Advancement

Pullman Co. hiring require­
ments for porters call for men between 21 and 45
years of age who can read, write, and work ele­
mentary arithmetic problems. All prospective
employees undergo character investigations.
Porters must pass medical examinations before be­
ing hired and those who handle food are rechecked
every 90 days thereafter; others are rechecked an­
nually. Many Pullman porters have been re­
cruited from among the friends and relatives of
men already in service. Most of the men now
hired are Negroes, although a few are Filipinos.
When a new porter is taken on he goes through
a training period which usually extends over about
2 weeks. Part of the time is spent in instruction
under a porter-instructor and part in road work
under an experienced porter. After this training
Pullman Porters.

Sleeping-car porter making up an upper berth.

Porters and Attendants

Since the first sleeper was introduced in the
middle of the last century, sleeping-car porters
have become an American institution. Pullman
travelers are familiar with most of the duties of
these courteous, efficient men who strive to make
passengers comfortable. Porters make up berths,
keep the cars in order, see that the washrooms are
clean and adequately supplied with towels, handle
baggage, and look after the passengers’ well-being
in many other ways.
>
Parlor cars also carry porters who have these
same duties—except, of course, making up berths.
On club and other cars where refreshments are
served there are “attendants,” who prepare and
serve beverages and food in addition to handling
any needed porter work. Busboys assist the at­
tendants on large club cars.
About 12,500 porters were employed by the
Pullman Co. in June 1948, mainly on sleeping
cars. In addition the company employed nearly
TOOattendants and about 275 busboys. The class I
roads also have a sizable number of attendants,
26



period the employee is given regular porter work
but is on probation for 6 months.
New porters are always put on the extra board
at first. They then bid for regular runs and are
assigned to them on a seniority basis. Experi­
enced porters may bid for any “porter-in-charge”
positions which open up in their districts.
Porters-in-charge are employed on some trains
which have only one or two Pullman cars and
therefore no Pullman conductors; they collect
Pullman tickets, sell space, and keep records, be­
sides handling regular porter work. The posi­
tions are filled according to fitness, ability, and
seniority.
Porters may advance to jobs as porter-instruc­
tors or porter-investigators. The company selects
the workers it considers most qualified for these
supervisory positions.
Experience as a busboy
is generally needed to qualify for attendant, jobs.
For busboy positions, applicants should have an
aptitude and interest in handling food. They
must also be able to meet requirements with re­
gard to health, character, and education similar
to those for porters .
Busboys are generally promoted to attendant
positions on the basis of seniority. It is possible
to advance to such jobs as attendant-cooks on club
cars which serve substantial meals.
Attendants and Busboys.

Outlook

Opportunities for newcomers as Pullman por­
ters, attendants, or busboys were not good in early
1949. As a result of the decline in first-class
passenger traffic since the war, the Pullman Co.
has had to lay off many workers. Most openings
that arise in the next year or two, including any
that may arise from a reduction in the basic work­
ing month, will probably be filled by reinstating
furloughed workers or transferring men from
one of the company’s districts to another.
The number of porters, attendants, and busboys
employed directly by the railroads has also been
decreasing since early 1946. Nevertheless, a num­
ber of men without previous railroad experience
have been taken on in these occupations. Dur­
ing 1946, for example, class I roads hired about
900 new entrants for attendant, porter, and re­
lated jobs. Much of this hiring has been to meet



temporary seasonal needs for workers—notably,
the expanded need for employees on runs to
Florida and other southern States in winter and
on those to northern vacation spots in summer.
Even the largest railroad systems do not cover
enough of the country to meet these seasonal needs
by transferring workers from one region to an­
other, as the Pullman Co. does to a great extent.
As long as general economic conditions remain
good, this situation is likely to continue. Some
hundreds of new workers will probably find jobs
with the railroads each year, but sometimes they
may be laid off when the peak season is over.
In the long run, employment of porters, at­
tendants, and busboys will probably tend to de­
cline both with the Pullman Co. and with the
railroads, even assuming continued business pros­
perity. Should there be a major depression, em­
ployment is likely to drop more sharply in these
occupations, which are dependent on the amount
of first -class passenger travel, than in many other
types of railroad work.
Earnings and Working Conditions

Porters, attendants, and busboys who have reg­
ular jobs with the Pullman Co. will have their
minimum guaranteed monthly wage based on 205
hours of work beginning September 1949 (until
then the basic work month will continue to be
240 hours). Extra men have no such guaranteed
wage, but the collective-bargaining contract stip­
ulates that they should have “as nearly as possible,
minimum earnings of approximately two-tliirds
of the basic month’s pay.” If men work more
than 205 hours per month, they will receive
straight-time rates for the first 35 additional
hours; work beyond 240 hours will be paid for
at time and one-half.
As of September 1949, the basic monthly rates
for Pullman porters and attendants will range
from $235.90 to $258.00, depending on the type of
work and years of service. These rates do not
include tips, which are heavy on some runs, light
on others, and tend to vary with the type of work.
The monthly rates are increased at the end of
men’s second year of service and at specified inter­
vals thereafter—up to top figures about $10 to $20
higher than the beginning rates, after 15 years of
service. Busboys will receive a flat rate of $235.20
per month regardless of years of service.
27

ventories of supplies. Next in line is a second
cook who fries and broils meat, bakes muffins and
rolls, dishes up meals, and does related tasks. A
third cook prepares soup, vegetables, and coffee
and works at the steam table. A man designated
as fourth cook, or “helper,” rounds out the crew.
He is the vegetable peeler, dishwasher, and general
clean-up man.
Practically all dining-car cooks work for class I
railroads. In 1948 these roads employed only
about 5,400 cooks, including some in restaurants
as well as all grades of dining-car cooks above the
helper level.
Qualifications and Lines of Promotion
Dining-car cooks work in small compact kitchens

Sleeping-car porters are provided sleeping ac­
commodations on night runs and may catch a few
hours’ sleep after the passengers are checked in.
The porter in the adjacent car “guards” the car
of the porter released for sleep. Except under
certain conditions, sleep of more than 2 hours is
not counted as time worked. Employees may buy
dining-car meals at approximately GO percent of
regular prices.
Labor Organization

Porters, attendants, and busboys employed by
the Pullman Co. are represented by the Brother­
hood of Sleeping Car. Porters. Those working
for the railroads are organized by the BSCP, the
Hotel and Restaurant Employees’ and Bartenders
International Union, and the United Transport
Service Employees of America.
Dining-Car Cooks

Dining-car meals are cooked in a compact and
highly efficient kitchen at one end of the car.
The number of cooks employed in this kitchen
depends on the size of the car and the number of
customers expected. On some runs one or two
cooks may be enough; on others three or four may
be needed.
Where four cooks are employed, the crew is
generally made up as follows: First there is a
chef who supervises the kitchen and instructs other
members of the crew; he also roasts and carves
meat and poultry, garnishes dishes, and takes in­
28



Applicants with at least a grade-school educa­
tion are preferred for jobs. All prospective cooks
must pass very strict physical and medical exami­
nations before being hired and are tested for com­
municable diseases every 90 days thereafter. On
most roads only Negro men are hired at present,
although some western and northern roads em­
ploy white cooks. Applicants with experience in
food preparation are usually given preference.
New workers generally begin as fourth cooks.
After 2 or 3 years’ experience a man may be pro­
moted to third cook, providing he demonstrates
the proper skills and there is an opening. Many
remain in this position for about 3 more years be­
fore becoming second cooks. Then it takes from
3 to 5 years to work up to the position of chef.
Outlook

This is a fairly small occupation and the num­
ber of workers employed in it has declined since
the end of the war. However, the railroads take
on a number of new cooks each year, except in very
bad times. New recruits are hired to take care
of temporary seasonal peaks in passenger traffic
and to replace men who die, retire, or leave the
occupation for other reasons.
For the long run a slow downward trend in em­
ployment of cooks is in prospect, owing to the
continued decline expected in railroad passenger
business. The new labor-saving kitchen devices
and methods envisaged at present will probably
not have much effect on employment; they are
likely to ease the work rather than reduce the
number of cooks needed. Use of precooked meals
or instantaneous electronic cooking probably

would cut down the number of cooks required, but
general introduction of such innovations is still a
long way off.
The situation would of course be much worse
if there should be a serious business depression
and, therefore, a heavy reduction in passenger
traffic. Under these circumstances it would be
necessary to furlough many cooks.

Labor Organization

Dining-car employees are not as highly organ­
ized as most other groups of railway workers.
The Hotel and Restaurant Employees and Bar­
tenders International Union is the major union
in the field. The United Transport Service Em­
ployees of America and the Order of Railway
Conductors of America represent the cooks on a
few roads.

Earnings and Working Conditions

Cooks and chefs working for class I roads will
have average straight-time earnings of about $1.30
an hour in September 1949. This figure is an
average for all grades of cooks above the helper
level. The earnings of individual cooks of course
vary with the grade of job and other factors. In
general extra workers have less employment and
lower earnings than men with more seniority who
have been able to get regular assignments.
Hours of work are long and often irregular.
Sometimes a cook may work 18 or 20 consecutive
days, or he may work a number of “long” days and
then rest a few days. The standard work month
will be shortened from 240 hours to 205 hours be­
ginning September 1, 1949, but most cooks and
chefs probably will work about the same number
of hours as at present. For hours over 205 and
under 240, straight-time rates will be paid; on
most roads time and one-half rates will begin after
240 hours. When they are away from their home
terminals, cooks are provided free meals and sleep­
ing quarters.
The kitchens where dining-car cooks work are
small and cramped. The work is done near hot
stoves. It involves handling hot food and uten­
sils and sharp knives. Even on a smoothly run­
ning train these working conditions involve risk
of injury, and sudden jerks or swaying of the car
multiply the chances of being burned or cut or of
falling down. The risk of accidents faced by
cooks is revealed by accident data for 1945 and
1946. In both years disabling injuries to cooks
were more frequent, in proportion to man-hours
worked, than to any other group of railroad
workers except yard and freight brakemen.
However, injuries to cooks are likely to be less
serious than those to brakemen and other workers
in train and engine service. In fatalities per
millon man-hours worked, cooks are well down on
the list of railroad occupations.



Dining-Car Waiters

Anyone who has eaten in a dining car has a
good idea of the difficulty of serving meals in the
limited space of a swaying, jiggling car. It is
hard, skilled work to maneuver loaded trays down
the narrow aisle of the car and get food and drink
onto the tables without mishaps.
Besides their main job of waiting on tables,
dining-car waiters have other duties to perform.
On a car with a full crew of six waiters these
duties are usually divided as follows. Two
workers serve as “pantrymen” and are responsible
for the proper storage of food and the prepara­
tion of salads. The four others set the tables
and have additional specific tasks. One takes
care of the linen and water bottles. A second
washes, cleans, and polishes the larger pieces of
silverware, such as sugar bowls, ice tubs, and
finger bowls. A third is responsible for the flat
silver and the glassware. The remaining waiter
keeps the floors clean. When the crew of waiters
is smaller each man handles two or more of these
duties.
Another type of work which some waiters do
is to go through the coaches selling sandwiches,
milk, and other items.
Qualifications and Advancement

Railroads give preference to applicants who are
in their early twenties, fairly tall, and of pleas­
ant appearance. Ability to read and write is a
must, and previous experience as a waiter is an
asset. Each man undergoes a character investi­
gation befqre being hired. He is also given a
thorough physical and medical examination.
Throughout his employment he is tested for com­
municable diseases about four times a year.
Most dining-car waiters at present are Negroes,
29

though some northern and western railroads em­
ploy white waiters.
There is little opportunity for advancement for
Negro waiters, since the stewards who are
in charge on most dining cars are white men.
A few Negro waiters become waiters-in-charge,
who supervise the other employees on cars with a
total work force of less than four including both
cooks and waiters.
Outlook

Both the short- and long-run prospects for
dining-car waiters are similar to those for diningcar cooks (see p. 28).
Earnings and Working Conditions

Waiters’ wage rates are lower than those of
cooks, but their earnings are supplemented by tips.
When the amount received in tips is large, waiters
are likely to earn more than cooks. When diningcar business is slack and tips are light, cooks
generally earn more.
Average straight-time earnings for waiters will
be around $1.10 to $1.15 an hour beginning Sep­
tember 1, 1949. Waiters generally get a 1-centan-hour increase for each year of service up to 5
years. Those who serve as pantrymen are paid
a few dollars extra a month. Men selling sand­
wiches and other items in coaches receive a small
commission on sales.
Dining-car waiters should be neat, cheerful, and efficient.

30



Waiters generally have the same basic month
and overtime arrangements as cooks.
Waiters are organized mainly by the Hotel and
Restaurant Employees and Bartenders Inter­
national Union. However, they are represented
on some roads by the United Transport Employees
of America or the Brotherhood of Railroad Train­
men.
Communication, Station, and
Office Work

If the only railroad trains were the regular ones
listed in the freight and passenger timetables and
these were always on time, directing the operation
of trains over a railroad division would be a
fairly simple matter. The officials in charge would
only have to draw up schedules and rules of opera­
tion and give these to the train crews. Actually
railroads have many extra freight and passenger
trains besides those provided for in the timetables;
also regular trains are sometimes delayed. These
two factors greatly complicate the job of planning
train movements so as to prevent collisions, and,
at the same time, get all trains to their destinations
as quickly as possible.
The key men in planning and directing train
movements are the train dispatchers. The dis­
patcher must know at all times the location of
all trains moving within his division or district.
Usually, he receives reports regarding the location
of trains by telephone or telegraph from wayside
stations and towers. When a delay occurs or ex­
tra trains have to be provided for, he issues revised
train orders—which may, for example, direct a
train to shift to another track or, if the line has
only one track, to wait on a siding for another
train to pass.
How' do these train orders reach conductors and
engineers on the road? For the most part, they
are sent by telegraph or telephone to operators in
stations or towers, wT convey the instructions to
ho
the train crews either by setting signals or by de­
livering written orders. Radiotelephone, which
makes it possible for the operators to talk writh
the crew while the train speeds along, probably
will be used more and more.
Another relatively new development, known as
centralized traffic control (CTC), enables the
operator to control train movements without need

Dispatcher operating centralized-traffic-control machine.

for written orders. CTC machines are sometimes
operated by dispatchers, sometimes by towermen.
As shown in the picture, the operator has in front
of him a board with a map of the tracks controlled
by his machine. Colored lights on the board con­
stantly show him the position of all trains moving
over these tracks. By turning the great number
of different keys on the machine, he can set every
signal and throw every switch in his district, thus
directing trains miles away to stop, slow down,
or proceed onto other tracks or sidings. As yet,
CTC is found on relatively few miles of tracks,
but is being installed steadily, especially on singletrack lines with heavy traffic, where trains often
have to be directed onto sidings so that others may
pass.
Older and much more widespread than CTC
are the block signals which most railroads have
installed to protect trains from collisions during
stops or delays between stations. Under the block
signal system, railroad lines are divided into short
sections or blocks, with a signal at the beginning
of each. When a train enters a block the signal
at the entrance to that block registers “stop,”
changing to “caution” as the train moves into the



next block, and to “proceed” as it gets still far­
ther away.19 The majority of block signals are
automatic: A train entering the block short-cir­
cuits an electric current flowing through the rails
and thus sets the signal mechanism in operation.
Such signals are a comparatively recent develop­
ment, however. Manual signal systems, controlled
by operators at the beginning of each block, are
still in use on some lines, particularly where traf­
fic is light; on other lines there are no block sig­
nals at all.
A picture of the work and employment pros­
pects of telegraphers and telephoners and block
operators is given below. Since many telegraph­
ers and telephoners are in combination jobs in­
volving work as a towerman, station agent, or
clerk as well as the handling of communications,
a discussion of these three station occupations is
19 The most common type of signal is a semaphore with an arm
which moves upward from the horizontal (or “stop” ) to the
diagonal and vertical positions and a light which changes from
red to yellow to green. However, some railroads use “position
lights,” which are all of the same color but have different posi­
tions : and some signal posts have two or three semaphore arms.
These more elaborate signals make it possible to convey more
than three messages to the engineer of an oncoming train— as is
necessary on routes where there are high-speed trains which can­
not stop safely within the space of one block.

31

included in this section. Another well-known
station job discussed in this section is that of red­
cap.20
Telegraphers and Telephones

Telegraphers or telephoners are employed in
most stations and in many towers. They are re­
sponsible for receiving train orders from the dis­
patcher and passing them on to train crews in
written form or by signal indication, as well as
for handling other types of communications with
regard to the railroad’s business.
To insure that the dispatcher’s orders are given
to the train crews correctly and are fully under­
stood by them, the operator must follow strictly
the established “operating rules.” He must write
down the order and repeat it to the dispatcher.
Then he may hand it to the train crew, if the train
is scheduled to stop at the station. Or he may
attach the order to a hoop and hold this out by the
track, so a member of the crew can catch it on his
arm as the train passes (see picture). In addi­
tion, instructions governing train movements are
often transmitted by setting signals.
Besides train orders, railroad telegraph opera­
tors handle messages regarding reservations,
freight shipments, and many other matters. Some
of them work in offices which relay messages to
other telegraph offices all over the railroad system.
In general, the men with the greatest speed and
skill in sending Morse code are to be found in these
relay offices. However, many of the operators in
relay offices are printer operators who send mes­
sages by teletype or some other kind of printing
telegraph machines instead of by Morse code; most
relay work is now handled by such machines.
The block operators, stationed at the beginning
of each block on routes with manual block signals,
are also included in the telegrapher and telephoner group. These operators may have to com­
municate with the dispatcher about train orders
and other matters and always have a telephone or
telegraph connection with the men in adjoining
blocks. When a train enters a block, the operator
not only sets his own signal at “stop” but notifies
the next man down the line to change his signal
from “stop” to “caution” and the one beyond to
20 See appendix A, p. 48, for a list o fotlier communication,
station, and office jobs and the numbers of workers employed in
each.
32



Telegrapher handing train order to fireman on moving train.

change his from “caution” to “proceed.” On some
routes the signals in adjoining blocks are “locked”
together electrically, to guard against errors which
might cause accidents. Under this “controlled
manual system” an operator cannot change his sig­
nal from “stop” to “caution” until the next man
up the line changes his signal to “stop” indicating
that the train has moved into his block.
In 1948 the class I roads employed about 14,000
telegraphers, telephoners, and towermen (includ­
ing printer operators, block operators, and all
towermen regardless of whether or not they were
required to do telegraphing or telephoning). In
addition, there were about 900 chief telegraphers
and telephoners and wire chiefs and 10,000 workers
who combined telegraphing or telephoning with
ticket selling or other clerical duties in stations.
These figures do not include the station agents
whose work involved handling of train orders and
other messages by telegraph or telephone.
Qualifications, Training, and Lines of Promotion

Most young people entering railroad telegraph
work start out as student-telegraphers. For this
position the railroads desire young people not over

21 years of age, preferably not more than 18.
Sometimes girls are hired, but young men are gen­
erally preferred. The physical examination for
telegraphers pertains particularly to eyesight and
hearing: Applicants must have at least 20/20
vision in one eye and not less than 20/40 in the
other (with or without glasses) and be able to
hear ordinary conversation at a distance of 20
feet. A high-school education is required by al­
most all roads, and legible handwriting is
necessary.
Most student-telegraphers receive 6 to 12 months
of on-the-job training at a small station, under
the supervision of the station agent or of an ex­
perienced telegrapher. They not only learn Morse
code but are instructed in such subjects as train
orders, operating rules, routes, rates, and accounts.
Less often, beginners start by taking a course
(which generally lasts 6 months) at a railroad
telegrapher school and then spend 2 or 3 months
“cubbing” at a station. For men with previous
telegraphic experience the training period may be
shorter. On many roads, trainees have to pass a
written or oral examination on train and operating
rules and a practical test on code speed and han­
dling of orders to qualify for a telegrapher job.
Newly qualified telegraphers usually begin as
extra workers and then bid for regular assign­
ments. The men with greatest seniority have first
chance at the shifts they prefer and at the various
kinds of jobs within their seniority district
(which, for most telegraphers, is the railroad di­
vision) . They may bid not only on straight op­
erator and block-operator jobs but also on towerman, telegrapher-clerk, and telegrapher-stationagent positions. Later on, they may work up to
the position of train dispatcher or station agent
in a major station and possibly to still higher posi­
tions. Some highly skilled operators obtain jobs
in relay offices, where pay rates are comparatively
high. From these positions, the usual line of ad­
vancement is to such jobs as wire chief and office
manager. Occasionally a telegrapher may ad­
vance to chief clerk. Sometimes telegraphers
transfer to entirely different types of work in the
traffic or sales department of their company.
Outlook

There were openings for both students and ex­
perienced telegraphers and telephoners in early



1949 in many parts of the country. A critical
shortage of telegraphers developed during the
war, and in the first postwar years the railroads
continued to have difficulty recruiting enough
workers to maintain an adequate force of skilled
telegraphers. Additional workers probably will
be needed in the fall of 1949 to enable the railroads
to put telegraphers on a 40-hour week.
Over the long run, the trend of employment in
the occupation is expected to be downward, al­
though the decline will probably not be sharp
enough to cause many lay-offs provided that rail­
road traffic remains fairly high. Among the fac­
tors which have in the past reduced the number
of Morse telegraphers needed and will continue to
do so in the future are the use of telephone in place
of telegraph in train dispatching and the intro­
duction of teletype machines in relay offices.
Workers in the telegrapher craft receive prefer­
ence for telephone and teletype jobs, however, and
these developments therefore tend to change the
nature of the work done by some men rather than
to eliminate positions. As CTC systems are intro­
duced, they do cut out some telegrapher and telephoner jobs, but installations of CTC are likely to
be spread out over a number of years. What the
effects of radiotelephone will be upon railway
communication jobs is not yet clear. Many rail­
road officials believe, however, that telegraphers or
telephoners will always be needed regardless of
radio.
The picture would of course be quite different
if there should be a sharp decline in general busi­
ness activity and therefore in railroad traffic.
Under these circumstances, lay-offs would no
doubt be necessary, as they were during the 1930’s,
and there would be few opportunities for new
workers.
Earnings and Working Conditions

Clerk-telegraphers and clerk-telephoners will
have average straight-time earnings of about $1.57
an hour in September 1949. Wages vary greatly
from one station to another and are based on fac­
tors such as geographical location and the amount
and character of business transacted at the sta­
tion. The wage rates for students are far below
those for qualified telegraphers.
Employees in jobs involving only telegrapher,
telephoner, or towerman duties will make about
33

$1.61 an hour on the average in September 1949.
Within this group also, there is wide variation
in rates. Telegraph operators in relay offices
have better-than-average pay, and there are many
other differences.
The wage rates for chief telegraphers and telephoners and wire chiefs are naturally higher. In
September 1949 these workers will have average
straight-time earnings of about $1.88 an hour.
Telegraphers and telephoners are represented
by the Order of Railroad Telegraphers on nearly
all major roads.
Towermen

Towennen are another group of workers who
make a vital contribution to the safe and efficient
movement of the trains. They operate switches
and, sometimes, signals and may in addition
handle train orders and inform the dispatcher
of the exact times at which trains passed their
tower.
Railroad towers overlook yards, the approaches
to major terminals, and other places where two
or more tracks come together or cross each other
or where special care must be taken to prevent
accidents. In some towers, switches are operated
by pulling long levers which move rods leading
to the switches. In the larger and more modern
ones, however, signals and switches are operated
electrically, and they are almost always “inter­
locked” so that they can be set only in proper
sequence. These interlocking machines are a very
important safety device; they make it next to im­
possible for towennen to make mistakes that
might lead to collisions.
Towennen who merely operate the levers con­
trolling switches in either mechanical or electri­
cal towers are generally known as levermen. If
they do telegraphing in addition to this work they
are generally known as levermen-telegraphers, or
towermen-telegraphers. In large towers where
several men are employed a “tower director” is in
charge.
Methods of Entry and Lines of Promotion

Towennen begin either as telegraph operators
or in leverman jobs which do not require knowl­
edge of telegraphy. At towers with the most
34



simple mechanisms, it may take only a week or
so for the leverman to learn his work.
On some roads, towennen with telegraphic
skills may bid for any positions on the teleg­
rapher's roster for their seniority district; on
others they have separate seniority lists. Ad­
vancement to tower director, train director, or dis­
patcher is possible.
Outlook

Additional workers probably will be needed in
this relatively small occupation when the 40-liour
week becomes effective in September 1949. Over
the long run, the number of towennen employed
is likely to decrease somewhat, owing primarily to
further installations of centralized-traffic-control
equipment. However, as we noted before, CTC
installations will be made gradually. Given con­
tinued business prosperity, there is no reason to
anticipate many prolonged lay-offs of towennen.
Earnings and Working Conditions

Separate figures on earnings are not available
for towennen. The average hourly pay of the
telegrapher, telephoner, and towerman group will
Leverman throwing mechanically operated switch,

be about $1.61 in September 1949. In general,
nontelegraplier levermen have lower Avage rates
than other towermen, except in some large inter­
locking towers.
The Order of Railroad Telegraphers represents
levermen, other towermen, and train directors on
nearly all major railroads.
Station Agents

A station agent is the railroad’s official repre­
sentative in all dealings with the public at his
station. At a small, one-man station the agent
has to do all the work himself: selling tickets,
checking baggage, and calculating the charges on
freight and express; keeping records; loading out­
going baggage, freight, and express onto trains
and unloading items to be delivered to people in
his community; even attending to the building
and grounds. At most stations the agent also
serves as telegrapher and telephoner, with respon­
sibility for receiving and delivering train orders
and other messages pertaining to the company’s
business. In general, the larger the station the
more of the work is delegated to clerks, cleaners,
and other employees working under the agent’s
supervision. Men who have worked up to agent
positions in major freight or passenger stations
have mainly administrative and supervisory
duties.
About 21,000 full-time station agents were em­
ployed in 1948. Two-thirds of these men
(14,000) were agent-telegraphers or agent-telephoners; the next largest group (5,000) had nontelegraph jobs at the smaller stations; while 2,000
had supervisory positions at major stations.
Qualifications and Lines of Promotion

Positions as agent in a small station or assistant
agent in a larger one are filled, as a rule, by pro­
moting experienced telegraphers who bid for the
jobs. (For jobs in small nontelegraph stations,
telegraphic experience is not required.) A wide
knowledge of routes, rates, accounting methods,
signals, and other matters connected with rail­
road operations is needed for all station-agent
positions.
Agents may move up the ladder by going from
smaller to larger stations. Another frequent line
of promotion is from assistant agent to agent, and



possibly to station supervisor or inspector and
station master.
Outlook

Employment is likely to be more stable in this
occupation than in almost any other covered by
the study, though it may decline slightly over the
long run. There will be a limited number of open­
ings in station agent jobs each year owing to turn­
over, but these will continue to be filled, in the
main, by telegraphers already on the pay roll.
Since the early 1920’s the number of agents has
declined slowly but steadily, as more and more sta­
tions were closed. It was possible to eliminate
many of those stations because automobiles en­
abled people to transport shipments farther to
reach a railroad than they could in horse-andbuggy days.
The number of stations and agents may con­
tinue to decline, but at a slow rate. Most of the
stations which could be easily eliminated have al­
ready been closed. Even if there should be a sub­
stantial decline in business activity and railroad
traffic the number of stations and agents would re­
main about the same for a while, though some
individual agents might be bumped by men higher
up on the telegrapher seniority list who were dis­
placed from other types of jobs. Should there be
a depression, however, it is likely that additional
stations would be closed.
Earnings and Working Conditions

Station agents in nonsupervisory jobs are some­
times paid by the hour, sometimes by the month;
the much smaller group in supervisory positions
are paid by the month. For both groups, pay
varies with such factors as the location of the
station and the amount and character of business
done there. Where agents handle the business
of the Railway Express Agency they receive a
commission averaging 10 percent on the business
transacted.
Nontelegrapher agents at smaller stations will
have average straight-time earnings of about $1.65
in September 1949. Agent telegraphers and tele­
phones will average less, about $1.58 an hour.
Supervisory agents at major stations will average
considerably more, about $2.19.
Most full-time station agents are represented by
the Order of Railroad Telegraphers.
35

Station agents must have a thorough knowledge of routes and rates.

Clerks

An army of clerks—about 137,000—worked for
class I railroads in 1948.21 Representing more than
1 out of 10 railroad workers, clerks outnumbered
all other occupational groups except maintenanceof-way laborers.
The largest group of clerks (almost 111,000)
were employed as ticket sellers, rate clerks, “per­
cent clerks,” timekeepers, bill clerks, yard clerks,
baggage-room clerks, and assistant cashiers, and
in related jobs. The work of some of these people
is familiar to everyone. It is the ticket clerk,
with his fund pf knowledge on routes, rates, and
geography, who aids the passenger in planning
his trip. People shipping freight have dealings
with the rate clerks, who determine the charges
21 Secretaries, stenographers, typists, and similar occupations
are not included. The numbers employed in these occupations in
1948 are shown in appendix A, p. 4S.
36



for shipments in accordance with complicated rate
schedules. The percent clerk has the job of deter­
mining how much revenue is due his company
when a passenger or shipment has traveled over
more than one road. In small offices or stations
one man may handle several different types of
work, whereas in large offices with many clerks
each one may be highly specialized.
A smaller group of clerks (about 12,000 in 1948)
do more responsible or technical work. Some pre­
pare the 'statistics on employment, traffic, equip­
ment, and other subjects required by the Inter­
state Commerce Commision. Those designated
as cashiers deal with the public in such delicate
matters as the handling of uncollected freight
bills and undercharges that may have been made
by the road. Among the other types of workers
in the group are “car distributors,” who arrange
for the distribution of empty cars to points where
they are most needed, and “joint facility account­

ants,” who have the job of calculating how much
of the costs and revenues from joint facilities such
as a union station should be allocated to each road.
Supervisory and chief clerks, who numbered
about 14,000 in 1948, supervise other workers and
are in charge of major and minor departments.
Qualifications and Lines of Promotion

may, however, reduce turn-over and make it
harder for newcomers to break in.
Employment in the occupation will probably
tend to decline over the long run. Further mech­
anization and more efficient office procedures will
make it possible for fewer and fewer clerks to
handle a given amount of work. Since new ma­
chines are introduced gradually and much cleri­
cal work does not lend itself to mechanization,
the total number of clerks needed will probably
decrease slowly, however. Workers in the occu­
pation should have reasonable expectation of
steady employment, provided general business
activity remains at a high level.
If there should be a major recession and a con­
sequent sharp drop in traffic, lay-offs w^ould no
doubt be heavy among* some groups of clerks, in­
cluding ticket sellers, rate clerks, and others who
are directly concerned with passenger or freight
traffic. In the audit and accounting departments
and certain other branches of the railroads, the
amount of clerical work to be done and the num­
ber of clerks needed are much less affected by
changes in the volume of traffic.

Beginning clerical jobs are filled either by hiring
newcomers or by promoting office boys, messen­
gers, or, in some instances, laborers already em­
ployed by the company. Positions of higher
grade are almost always filled by promotions from
within.
Men are preferred for most jobs, but large num­
bers of women are employed in some clerical occu­
pations. For applicants without previous rail­
road experience, the maximum age is generally
35; for those seeking to transfer to clerical posi­
tions from other railroad work, it is usually 45.
A high school education is. required by some roads,
and clerical aptitude tests are given by a few.
Training or experience* in working with figures
is helpful.
The line of promotion depends on the depart­
ment in which the clerk is working. In many of­ Earnings and Working Conditions
For clerks in lower-grade jobs, average straightfices he may hope to advance to assistant chief
clerk, chief clerk, and, conceivably, still higher time earnings will be about $1.55 an hour in Sep­
administrative positions. Some clerks have a tember 1949. Senior clerks and clerical special­
chance to move from routine beginning jobs to- ists will have higher wages—roughly $1.82 an
work demanding special knowledge of account­ hour on the average. Supervisory and chief
ing or statistics, which may lead eventually to clerks will have still higher average hourly
positions such as auditor. Clerks in traffic de­ earnings.
The Brotherhood of Railway and Steamship
partments may become traffic agents; those* in
stores departments may advance to jobs such as Clerks, Freight Handlers, Express and Station
Employees represents the clerks on all major
buyer or storekeeper.
roads. On some roads ticket sellers are repre­
sented by the Order of Railroad Telegraphers.
Outlook
This occupation is so large that thousands of Redcaps
vacancies arise annually through quits, deaths,
Redcaps, whose main duty is to help passengers
retirements, and turn-over of other types. The
with their baggage, are employed at only a few
number of vacancies filled is of course greatest hundred city passenger stations out of a total
in prosperous years. In 1946, for example, more of 59,000 passenger stations in the
The
than 14,000 new entrants were hired as lower- total number of redcaps employedcountry. (the
in 1941
grade clerks.
which
Additional clerks will be taken on in positions latest year for 4,300.22information is available)
was only about
which must be manned continously when the 4022 Redcaps in
Terminals under the
Labor Stand­
hour week becomes effective in September 1949. ards Act, 1938-41,Railway and Hour Division, U.Fair Department
Wage
S.
The shorter workweek and higher hourly pay of Labor, 1942 (p. 7).



37

Besides carrying baggage, with or without the
aid of trucks, redcaps may be asked for informa­
tion on such subjects as train schedules and the
track on which a particular train will arrive or
depart. They may also check baggage, purchase
tickets, make telephone calls, and perform other
services for travelers. Sometimes they do mis­
cellaneous work around the stations, such as call­
ing out the names of trains, stocking the time­
table racks, and cleaning.
Qualifications and Lines of Promotion

Hiring standards for redcap jobs vary from
company to company. As a rule, applicants are
required to be at least 18 and not over 45 years of
age and must be able to read and write. Applicants
are given physical examinations principally to
determine if they are strong enough to carry heavy
baggage. Most men now hired as redcaps are
Negroes.
A few men may advance to the positions of as­
sistant captain and captain of redcaps in their
station, usually after many years of service.
Outlook

Demand for porter service has dropped with the
decline in railroad passenger traffic since the war.
At some stations redcaps have been furloughed.
These laid-off workers have the first chance at va­
cancies created by turn-over; so wherever there
are furlough lists, newcomers have no chance of
getting jobs. However, when redcaps go on the
40-hour week in September 1949, prospects will be
temporarily improved, but it is unlikely that many
newcomers will be taken on.
Over the long run employment of redcaps is
likely to decline slowly. The number of jobs is
of course closely related to the amount of passenger
traffic, particularly Pullman travel. And it is
the railroad’s Pullman business which is likely to
suffer most heavily from air-line competition. A
limited number of openings will arise each year
owing to turn-over, which is reported to be low in
this occupation. Should there be a sharp decline
in business activity, bringing with it a sudden
slump in passenger traffic, there would probably
be many lay-offs and newcomers would find it ex­
tremely difficult to enter the occupation.
38



Earnings and Working Conditions

Most redcaps will have a regular hourly wage
of about $1.16 in September 1949. In addition to
their wages, they keep any tips which passengers
give them over the regular charge for baggage.
The standard fees are collected by the redcaps and
turned in to their employers. The amount re­
ceived in tips varies greatly, depending on the
city, the station, the individual worker and many
other factors. It is reported that earnings from
tips have dropped at stations which increased
the per bag fee from 10 to 15 cents. In general,
“positions” at automobile or taxi entrances to sta­
tions are more profitable than those at trolley-car
or foot-passenger entrances. Many companies as­
sign the preferred positions to men with greatest
seniority.
In most places redcaps are paid the regular rate
for overtime work, but at some stations they get
time and one-half for work above 8 hours per day
or 40 per week. Redcaps who have worked at least
130 days during the previous year receive vaca­
tions with pay—5 days per year if they have had
less than 5 years’ service, 10 days if they have been
with the company for 5 years or more.
Labor Organization

These workers are covered by union contracts
at most large stations. They are represented by
the United Transport Service Employees of
America, and the Brotherhood of Railway and
Steamship Clerks, Freight Handlers, Express and
Station Employees.
Shop Trades

A cracked wheel or axle, a defective brake, a
broken coupling—these and many other types of
defects in a locomotive or car can thwart the best
efforts of the train crews, dispatchers, telegra­
phers, and towermen to get the trains to their des­
tinations safely and on time. Keeping the rail­
roads’ 1,750,000 freight cars, 57,000 passengertrain cars and coaches, and 44,000 locomotives in
safe and efficient operating condition is the respon­
sibility of workers in the maintenance-of-equip­
ment department, which is one of the largest de­
partments on every major road.
Under Interstate Commerce Commission regu­

lations, a locomotive must be inspected every 24
hours,. If minor defects are found, the needed
“running repairs” are made in the engine house
(or, sometimes, on open tracks). Freight and
passenger cars also are inspected frequently.
Light repairs to passenger cars are generally made
in the yards near passenger terminals; those to
freight cars are made on “bad-order tracks” set
aside in the freight yards for use in repairing
“cripples.” For major repairs, however, both lo­
comotives and cars have to go to the “back shops,”
which generally have three parts—for work on
passenger cars, freight cars, and locomotives. On
a large railroad, the main shops are immense es­
tablishments, with buildings and tracks covering
many acres. Some shops build new cars, besides
doing overhaul, repair, and rebuilding work. In
recent years the railroads have built about 20 per­
cent of the new cars put into service and bought
the rest from car manufacturers. Some railroads
also build new locomotives in their shops.
The employees responsible for the building,
maintenance and repair of cars and locomotives
on the railroads are divided into six main “shop
crafts.” In descending order of size these are:
carmen, machinists, boilermakers, sheet-metal
workers, electrical workers, and blacksmiths.
About 164,000 journeymen mechanics were em­
ployed in the six crafts in 1948. In addition,
there were about 11,000 apprentices and 82,000
helpers.23
Nature of Work

Carmen, of whom there were about 78,000 on
class I roads in 1948, are engaged primarily in
building and repairing railroad freight and pas­
senger cars. They also do some work on loco­
motives and on smaller vehicles of various kinds,
such as the motor cars used in transporting work­
ers along the tracks. Because of the wide variety
of jobs they may be called on to handle, most
carmen are skilled in both carpentry and metal­
working and can use many power machines as
well as hand tools. However, the carman group
also includes some upholsterers, car painters, and
patternmakers, skilled only in their particular
specialties.

Carmen are usually assigned to some one branch
of work. The largest number are employed in
freight car shops and on repair tracks. A smaller
group do passenger car (or “coach”) work in the
passenger car shops. Another group, designated
as car inspectors, examine cars in the yards and
stations for defects such as worn or damaged
parts that might cause train accidents or delays.
There is also a small group, called locomotive car­
penters or tender repairmen, who are assigned to
wrnrk in the engine houses and locomotive shops.
The other major shop crafts are found in many
other industries as well as on the railroads. In
general, railroad shopmen in these crafts do the
same kinds of work as members of their trades
who are employed elsewhere, but they must have
special knowledge of railroad equipment.
Machinists are, next to carmen, the largest group
of skilled shop workers, numbering about 45,000
on class I railroads in 1948. They assemble and
dismantle machinery, make and repair parts, and
do related work, mainly on locomotives though to
some extent on cars and other equipment.24 The
boilermakers (of whom 12,000 were employed in
1948) also work mostly in locomotive shops, where
they maintain and repair locomotive and station­
ary boilers, fireboxes, tanks, and other parts made
of sheet iron or sheet steel. Sheet-metal workers
(there were about 11,000 in 1948) install and main­
tain light sheet-metal parts and do pipe fitting on
cars, locomotives, and other equipment. Electri­
cal workers who maintain equipment (numbering
about 11,000) install and maintain wiring and
electrical equipment on locomotives, passenger
cars, and cabooses as well as in the shops and other
buildings owned by the railroads. Blacksmiths
(who numbered 6,000) forge and fabricate parts
for locomotives and other equipment; these in­
clude springs, side rods, and many other parts
which are subject to great strain.
Qualifications, Training, and Advancement

The usual way of entering the shop crafts is to
work either 4 years as an apprentice, or 2 years as
a helper and then 3 years more as a helper-appren­
tice. Workers with related experience in other

24 For a detailed discussion of machinists’ work and employ­
23 For a list of the other occupations in the maintenance-of- ment opportunities in industry generally, see U. S. Bureau of
Labor Statistics, Bull. No. 895, Employment Outlook in Machineequipment and related departments and the number of workers
employed in each, see appendix table, p. 48.
Shop Occupations (1947).



39

Boilermakers and other craftsmen in locomotive repair shop,

40




industries may be able to qualify as journeymen in
less than 4 years.
To become a regular apprentice, one must be at
least 16 and not over 21 years of age; to become a
helper-apprentice, not older than 30 or 35, al­
though younger men are desired. The physical
and educational requirements for either type of
position are similar to those for many other rail­
road jobs (see p. 13). A few roads require candi­
dates for regular apprentice positions to pass
mathematical- and mechanical-aptitude tests.
Most union agreements provide that preference
shall be given to relatives of railroad employees,
providing they meet hiring standards.
The railroad industry has one of the best systems
of apprentice training in the country. Some of
the industry’s training programs date back over a
half century. Definite standards for the training
of apprentices are incorporated in the agreements
negotiated by the shopmen’s unions with the rail­
road managements.25 Apprentices receive train­
ing in all branches of their respective trades and
upon completion of their training receive a certifi­
cate from the carrier certifying that they are quali­
fied journeymen.
Outlook

Employment will decline materially over the
long run in most shop crafts. Increasing substitu­
tion of Diesel-electric locomotives for steam en­
gines is expected to be a very important factor in
this downward trend. The great majority of new
locomotives now being bought by the railroads are
Diesels. Not only do these locomotives require
much less maintenance work than steam engines,
but with the greater availability of Diesel-electric
power, fewer locomotives will be required to per­
form the same service. This will of course re­
sult in reduced employment. The downward
trend will be only temporarily offset when the
40-hour week becomes effective on Septem­
ber 1,1949.
The craftsmen already most affected and likely
to have the sharpest downward trend in employ­
ment are the boilermakers, who work primarily on
the boilers of steam locomotives. Increasing
dieselization also means less work for most of the
other crafts. The rate at which employment will

decline in the locomotive department will vary
greatly from road to road, depending on when and
how fast Diesel-electric power is substituted for
steam.
The amount of work for electricians, on the
other hand, is expanding with the growing use of
Diesel-electric power. Currently the number of
workers in the occupation is at an all-time peak,
and the number is expected to continue to grow,
at least in prosperous years, owing both to dieseli­
zation and to the expanding use of electric and
electronic train-communications equipment.
Carmen are not directly affected by dieseliza­
tion. Employment of carmen was at a high level
in the spring of 1949 and was expected to remain
high for a number of years, unless there should
be a major business recession. After the present
backlog of maintenance and building work on cars
has been reduced, however, employment in this
craft is likely to contract considerably.
Should there be a serious decline in general
business activity, lay-offs would no doubt be heavy
in all crafts. In the past when railroad traffic
and income have declined, maintenance work has
been deferred as much as possible and cuts in em­
ployment have tended to be more drastic in main­
tenance departments than in other major depart­
ments of the railroads. Even when traffic is heavy
and there is maintenance work needing to be
done, some shop workers may be laid off tem­
porarily if a road’s maintenance budget is un­
expectedly exceeded or there are shortages of
materials or other unforseen developments.
Even in shop crafts with declining employment,
vacancies occur every year owing to turn-over.
Whenever there are furlough lists, laid-off work­
ers must be rehired before any newcomers can be
taken on. In good years, however, there are
thousands of opportunities for newcomers in the
helper and apprentice classifications. Class I
roads took on about 14,000 new entrants as skilled
trades helpers in 1946. Opportunities for appren­
tices are less numerous than for helpers, who are
a much larger occupational group. Only about
2,000 new entrants became apprentices to skilled
craftsmen on class I roads in 1946.26

26 It is interesting to note in this connection that, while the
ratio of apprentices to mechanics is generally 1 apprentice to 5
mechanics under existing agreements, the ratio of apprentices to
mechanics employed on all class I railroads in the United States
25 See Apprentice Training in the Railroad Industry, by Fred N. in 1947 was only 6.8 percent, i. e., approximately 1 apprentice to
15 mechanics.
Aten, Railway Employees’ Department, AFL., Chicago, 1948.




41

Carman and helpers prepare truck for installation on boxcar.

Earnings and Working Conditions

Passenger carmen and locomotive repairmen,
machinists, boilermakers, blacksmiths, sheet-metal
workers, and electrical workers have the same
hourly wage rate. This rate will be generally
$1.74 an hour outside the South and $1.73 an hour
on southern roads in September 1949. The rates
for freight carmen will be somewhat lower, $1.65
an hour. In each craft, an additional 6 or 12 cents
an hour is paid for special types of work; men
doing autogenous welding, for example, receive 6
cents more than their basic rate.
Helpers in all crafts generally will have a basic
wage rate of $1.46 an hour. Helper apprentices
will start at about $1.46 an hour and, through in­
creases granted every 6 months, work up to about
$1.58 an hour for the last 6 months of the third
year. Regular apprentices will start at a lower
rate, typically $1.23 an hour, and also receive in­
creases every 6 months, up to about $1.52 an hour
in the last half of the fourth year.
42




Most work on cars is done outside on uncov­
ered tracks, and workers are on the job in all
kinds of weather, even when it rains or snows.
On some roads, the men themselves decide when
the weather is too bad for them to work; they
do not receive pay for time lost on this account.
Major repairs on locomotives are generally made
indoors.
These shop crafts are represented primarily by
the following unions: Brotherhood Railway Car­
men of America; International Association of
Machinists; International Brotherhood of Boil­
ermakers, Iron Ship Builders and Helpers of
America; International Brotherhood of Black­
smiths, Drop Forgers and Helpers; Sheet Metal
Workers’ International Association; and Inter­
national Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. In
collective bargaining, these unions operate
through the Railway Employees’ Department,
AFL, and have “federated” agreements with the
railroads covering all six crafts. In a few in­

stances, shop workers have been organized by the
Brotherhood of Railroad Shop Crafts of America,
a system association, or some other union.
Maintenance of W ay and Structures

If one locomotive engineer were fated to travel
over all the track in the United States, he would
have to cover more than 400,000 miles.27 He
would cross nearly 200,000 railroad bridges and
go through 1,500 tunnels. Along the way he
might stop for freight or passengers at any one
of some 120,000 stations. And he would have to
watch for thousands upon thousands of signals
before his journey had ended.
To maintain these tracks and structures and so
make the trips of all engineers possible, the class
I roads employed about 267,000 workers on the
average during 1948. The majority of these
workers were employed in maintaining the track
and roadbed. A much smaller group—the bridge
and building men—take care of bridges, stations,
and other structures. Maintaining the signal
equipment is the responsibility of still another
group, the signal force.28
Trackmen

If for a single month no one repaired the rail­
road tracks, few trains would run. Derailed and
broken cars and locomotives would mark where
loosened nuts, cracked rails, and washed out road­
beds had caused wrecks. Fortunately, such
scenes are rare. Railroads have an outstandingly
good safety record, to which the roadway workers
have made a great contribution. It is their job
to inspect and repair tracks and roadways, day
in and day out, in good weather and bad, so that
the tracks which carry so much of the Nation’s
goods and so many of its travelers will always
be straight and strong.
Until recent years almost all roadway work in­
volved hard manual labor. Men with simple
tools—picks, shovels, tampers, spike hammers—
27 Counting multiple tracks, sidings, and so forth. The mileage
covered by railroad lines is much less— about 227,000 miles.
28 For a list of the occupations in the maintenance-of-way and
structures department and the number of workers employed in
each, see appendix A, p. 48.



had the Gargantuan job of building and repair*
ing the tracks and roadways. Roadway main­
tenance still involves much manual labor, but
crews of machine operators and helpers are grad­
ually replacing the gangs of trackmen with shov­
els and picks which are a familiar sight on every
railroad. Cranes and other lifting devices handle
rails and heavy material. Mechanical multiple
tampers do the work of at least a dozen men; spike
pullers, powder wrenches, ballast cleaning “moles,”
bulldozers, and numerous other machines do work
that formerly required tremendous muscular
effort.
The regular, year-round track work force is
organized into “section gangs.” These crews are
made up typically of about five or six men and
a foreman. They are responsible for day-to-day
maintenance of sections of a railroad line which
average 9 miles in length but may range from 2
miles to more than 30, depending on whether or
not the line has more than one track a*nd how
heavy the traffic is. Either the foremen them­
selves or certain section men designated as “track
walkers” make regular inspections, looking for
cracked rails, weak ties, washed-out ballast, and
other defects. Crews make the repairs under the
supervision of the foremen.
About 25,000 section foremen were employed
by class I roads throughout 1948. The number
of section men employed ranged from 115,000 in
mid-January to 136,000 in mid-July, the peak
month. During the spring, summer, and fall,
trackmen repair the ravages of the past winter
and put their roads in good condition for the next.
On some roads, the section gangs take on addi­
tional workers during the good-weather months
to handle the heavier work load.
Besides the section gangs, many roads have “ex­
tra gangs,” which do big repair jobs and new con­
struction work. Extra gangs are usually much
larger than section gangs, sometimes numbering
as many as 100 men. Employment of extra-gang
men increases greatly during the summer months,
class I roads employed 61,000 such workers in
July 1947, compared with only 35,000 in January.
To operate the larger roadway machines, many
roads have special crews which do no other type
of work. Some crews run machines which spray
chemicals on weeds along the roadway. Others
43

operate ditching machines over the entire length
of the road. Crews also specialize in reclaiming
rails and ties, welding rails, and cleaning ballast.
Automatic hand tools such as tampers and power
wrenches are frequently operated by members of
section and extra gangs.
Qualifications and Advancement

Men applying for jobs as trackmen or mechani­
cal equipment helpers need to be strong enough
to do heavy work. Prospective track workers are
given physical exminations; foremen must be re­
examined periodically. Many roads require that
applicants be between 18 and 45 years of age. As
a rule, educational qualifications are less strict
for trackmen than for most other railroad jobs.
Some roads, however, hire promising men with a
high school education as apprentice foremen.

Some trackmen may transfer to helper jobs on
roadway machines or in the shops where these
machines are repaired. Others may become fore­
men or assistant foremen, but this usually requires
many years of experience. A few of the best
qualified foremen may reach higher positions—
track supervisor, division engineer, and division
superintendent. Section men have a better chance
of advancing to supervisory positions than those
in extra gangs. However, the latter can often
transfer to section work.
One of the entrance jobs for roadway machine
operator is that of helper. Helpers, and some­
times men from roadway machine maintenance
shops, are promoted to operator positions accord­
ing to seniority, providing ability is sufficient.
Seniority in this department typically extends
over several divisions and sometimes the entire
system.

Trackmen operating power wrench to tighten bolts on newly iaid rails.

44




Outlook

Many thousands of track workers will be hired
annually for an indefinite number of years, though
further mechanization of track work will mean de­
creasing employment of trackmen. Large num­
bers of workers without previous experience in
railroading are taken on each year to meet the
expanded need for trackmen during the summer
months and to fill vacancies due to the high turn­
over rate. In 1946, class I roads hired 78,000 new
entrants as extra-gang workers and 79,000 as sec­
tion men. The numbers taken on vary with the
volume of maintenance and repair work, which
in turn depends on the amount of business done
by the railroads.
Mechanical-equipment operators and helpers
will continue to take over more and more track
work. In both the short and long run, there will
be a number of openings in this occupation each
year, owing both to expanding employment and
turn-over. Mechanization of track work is ex­
pected to speed up after trackmen go on the basic
40-hour week in September 1949. It is likely that
railroad companies will continue to add mechani­
cal track equipment even in years when business
is not good.
Earnings and Working Conditions

Trackmen are among the lowest-paid workers
in the railroad industry. In September 1949, sec­
tion men and extra-gang men will have average
straight-time earnings of about $1.22 an hour.
On a yearly basis, however, the latter tend to be
less well off than section hands, since the railroads
generally have work for them only part of the
year.
Portable steam equipment operators have higher
wages. Their straight-time earnings will average
about $1.56 an hour in September 1949 and their
helpers’ earnings, about $1.35. Section foremen
and extra-gang foremen will average about $1.51
and $1.56, respectively.
Rates of pay vary from railroad to railroad and
even from one part of a road to another. Time
worked in excess of 8 hours a day or 40 a week
will be paid for at time and one-half beginning
September 1, 1949, and time in excess of 16 hours
a day at double time.
Since section men work on only a few miles of



track they are usually able to live at home. Track­
men in extra gangs travel from place to place and
often must live in camp cars or trailers, where
they pay for their food and provide their own
bedding. Men operating mechanical equipment
frequently serve several divisions or an entire
railroad system; they have to spend much time
away from home, often living in camp cars.
Maintenance-of-way employees are highly or­
ganized. They are represented on almost every
road by the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way
Employees.
Bridge and Building Workers

The bridge and building men are, like the car­
men, an unusually versatile group of workers.
One day they may be called on to repair a bridge;
the next, they may work on a tunnel; the one
after that, they may repair or build a station,
water tank, coal dock, ferry pier, or any one of
a variety of other structures.
The largest group of “B and B” workers are
the “carpenters” or “mechanics.” These men are
all-round mechanics, able to do not only carpentry
but also other types of construction work. About
14.000 of them were employed on class I roads
in 1948. In addition the bridge and building force
included some 2,500 painters; a total of about
2.000 masons, bricklayers, plasterers, and plumb­
ers; and 1,000 structural steel and iron workers.
Helpers and apprentices numbered about 8,000 al­
together ; foremen, about 4,00Q.
Method of Entry

New workers start out as helpers (or appren­
tices) and generally serve about 3 years before
they can qualify as mechanics. As openings occur
in skilled jobs they are filled by promoting the
qualified helpers with greatest seniority. Jour­
neymen with years of experience and exceptional
ability may work up to positions as inspector,
foreman, bridge and building supervisor, and even
division engineer. The last mentioned position
frequently requires special training.
Outlook

The employment outlook is good for skilled
bridge and building men, and there are likely to
45

be a moderate number of openings in helper jobs
each year, assuming favorable economic con­
ditions. The shortage of workers, especially
journeymen, which developed during the war, still
continued through 1948. Since there was a par­
ticular need for foremen, men with better-than
average abilities who showed promise as prospec­
tive supervisors were desired. Additional men
will be needed to make possible a reduction in ac­
tual working hours when the basic 40-hour week
is established in September 1949.
After the large backlog of needed repair and
improvement work has been reduced, employment
will tend to decline slowly. A long-run down­
ward trend is expected for such reasons as the
increasing substitution of concrete, steel, and
durable, treated lumber for untreated wood (which
requires much more frequent repairs) and the
greater use of power saws, drills, and other laborsaving equipment. However, turn-over is likely
to create a few thousand vacancies each year. In
1946, class I roads hired 6,400 new entrants as
helpers, but the shorter hours and higher hourly
pay effective September 1949 may reduce turn­
over rates and the number of openings. If there
should be a depression, openings for newcomers
would be few, since falling railroad traffic would
mean heavy lay-offs of maintenance workers and
waiting lists for jobs.
Earnings and Working Conditions

“B and B” carpenters will have average straighttime earnings of about $1.53 an hour in Septem­
ber 1949. Hourly earnings will be slightly higher
for painters ($1.56), and still higher for iron­
workers, masons, bricklayers, plasterers, and
plumbers (about $1.69). But even these last two
groups will make a little less than most groups of
skilled railroad shop workers.
Helpers of course will have considerably lower
rates. In September 1949 their average hourly
pay will be about $1.38.
Bridge and building men often have to be away
from home for days at a time. They generally
live in camp cars, where they have to provide their
own bedding and pay for their food.
The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Em­
ployees represents the bridge and building workers
on most major roads.
46




Signal Workers

One of the first railroad signals was a round
basket covered with a white cloth, which was
hoisted high in the air. To engineers this “high
ball” meant a clear track ahead. The term “high
ball” is still used by railroaders to mean “All is
clear,” although this simple device has of course
given away to a vast complex signaling system.
The railroads have developed successively block
signals, interlocking systems, and CTC (see p. 31).
These are the chief apparatus of a modern signal
system, but many other devices automatically re­
veal defects in tracks or structures and warn of
impending dangers such as mountain slides.
Signal departments have the responsibility for
maintaining, improving, and expanding signal
systems. The craftsmen who carry out this com­
plicated and important assignment are signalmen
and signal maintainers. Working with them are
assistants and helpers who, in addition to doing
the less-skilled work, are in training to become
full-fledged craftsmen. In 1948, class I railroads
employed an average of 8,400 signalmen and sig­
nal maintainers, 2,500 assistants, and 3,300 helpers.
Signal maintainers inspect and repair railroad
signals within a given territory. They see that the
lights, switches, other controlling devices, and
wires are in good condition and are functioning
properly. The work requires a thorough practi­
cal knowledge of electricity and considerable me­
chanical skill.
The skills and knowledge required of signalmen
are much the same as for maintainers. But in­
stead of doing maintenance repair work, signal­
men are primarily concerned with installation and
construction. They work in gangs and travel
from one part of the road to another, wherever
there is construction work to be done.
Training and Advancement

In both signalman and signal-maintainer work
new employees start as helpers, doing semiskilled
work. After about 6 months to 1 year of train­
ing on the job (or longer, depending upon how
often vacancies occur) most helpers advance to
assistants. Four years’ experience as assistant
generally qualifies a man for a journeyman job.
As openings in skilled jobs occur they are filled
by promoting qualified assistants according to

seniority rules. On nearly all roads journeymen
may transfer from signalman to maintainer jobs
or vice versa. When lay-offs are made, workers
in either type of work may bump those with less
seniority in the other type.
Both signalmen and signal maintainers may
be promoted to more skilled and responsible jobs,
such as inspector or test man, leading signalman,
or signal maintainer and foreman. A few men
may advance eventually to assistant signal super­
visor or engineer.
Outlook

This is one of the few types of railroad work
in which employment will probably tend to in­
crease in both the short and the long run. In
1940 about 10,300 signal workers were employed.
Several thousand men left for the armed forces;
nevertheless, employment rose to about 13,000 by
1945. Since the end of the war, emplo^unent has
continued to increase (to about 14,000 in 1948).
It is likely that the number employed will rise
still further, owing to the backlog of work and
expected modernization of signal systems. More­
over, additional workers probably will be needed
when this craft goes on a 40-hour week in
September 1949.
Workers will also be needed to replace those
who leave the occupation because of death or re­
tirement, or for other reasons. In 1946, for ex­
ample, class I roads hired 2,600 new entrants as
signal workers, although the net gain in employ­
ment was very small during the year.
Signal workers probably will have an especially
high degree of job security. In this group as a
whole, employment not only has an upward trend
but is less affected by changes in the general level
of business activity than emplojunent in most other
railroad occupations. When railroad business de­
clines, most signal-maintenance work must be con­
tinued, though the amount of new construction
and installation work is likely to be reduced.
Earnings and Working Conditions

Signalmen and signal maintainers generally
will have basic hourly wage rates of $1.75 in the




Signal maintainer inspecting electric signal.

East and $1.73 in the South and West in Septem­
ber 1949. Leading signalmen and leading signal
maintainers will be paid an additional 6 cents an
hour. Hourly rates for assistants generally will
begin at about $1.47 in the East and $1.45 in the
South and West. Rates are increased by 2 cents
an hour after each 6 months of service. For the
last half of the fourth year of apprenticeship the
rate will be about $1.64 in the East and $1.62 in
the South and West. Signal helpers will have a
flat rate of $1.46 an hour in the East and $1.43 in
the South and West in September 1949.
Maintainer work is fairly steady throughout the
year. Signalmen are likely to have less work in
the winter than in other seasons, except in regions
with mild winters. Signalmen are away from
home a large part of the time. On such occasions,
the railroads provide camp cars but the men have
to pay for their food and provide their own bed­
ding. Signal maintainers are generally able to
live at home; they ride back and forth within
their territory daily.
These workers are represented on practically all
roads by the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen
of America.

47

Appendix A

,

Employment on class I railroads by occupation, 19481
ICC
division
number

Occupational group

Number of ICC
employees 2 division
number

1,326, 906
All occupations. _ ___ ____ _______
.. ..
299,034
Transportation—train, engine, and yard service___
58,082
Locomotive firemen and helpers... _____________
28, 880
Road freight firemen and helpers.. _____ ___
20, 305
Through freight..
___ _ _ _________
126
8, 575
Local and way freight_______ ___________ .
127
20, 735
Yard firemen and helpers____________________
128
8,467
Road passenger firemen and helpers_____ _ .
125
55, 811
Locomotive engineers ... _ ________ __________
26, 795
Road freight engineers and motormen._______
18, 526
122
Through freight_________________________
8, 269
Local and way freight____
123
19, 691
124
Yard engineers and motormen________________
9, 325
Road passenger engineers and motormen .. ___
121
112, 597
Brakemen.. __ ________ _ . .
53, 669
Yard brakemen and yard helpers. ______ ._ ..
120
49, 687
Road freight brakemen and flagmen.. _ ... .
31, 935
Through freight. _
__ _ ______ .
117
17, 752
Local and way freight . . . . ___ ...
118
9,241
Road passenger brakemen and flagm en..____
116
48, 349
Conductors__________ _______ _______ ________
20, 301
Road freight conductors__________ __________
12, 776
Through freight__________ _____ ----------113
7,525
Local and way freight. _. . _ ______
114
20, 552
Yard conductors and yard foremen.. ___
119
7,496
Road passenger conductors.. _ . ___
111
Assistant road passenger conductors and ticket
112
3,246
collectors. ... __ .
... . ______
4, 094
115 Road passenger baggagemen__ . . . ___ _ _ ...
7, 637
Hostlers and helpers _ _ _ . .
3, 996
Inside hostlers._ ... _. ... _. _____ _____
109
2,188
Outside hostlers___________ _______ ... .. .
108
1, 453
Outside hostler helpers... _______ _________
110
3,110
Switch tenders___ ____________ ______ ..
107
4, 541
105 Yardmasters _ _ __ _ ... ... ------------------- -1, 567
106 Assistant yardmasters______ ___________________
160,625
Other transportation______ _ _ _ _ .
23,069
Passenger service___ _ . . . _ --------- --------28
Parlor and sleeping car conductors_____________
100
4,349
Train attendants. . . . . . . . . . _____
101
5,356
Chefs and cooks (restaurants or dining cars)... _.
96
13,336
Waiters, camp cooks, kitchen helpers, etc.3. ___
97
Telegraphers, telephoners, and towermen... . _ .
25,032
14,317
Telegraphers, telephoners, and towermen.. ___
83
9, 788
Clerk-telegraphers and clerk-telephoners____ ...
82
927
Chief telegraphers and telephoners and wire chiefs.
81
21, 295
Station agents. -------------------- ----- ------------------14,089
Station agents (telegraphers and telephoners)___
80
4,935
Station agents (smaller stations—nontelegraphers)
79
Station agents (supervisory, major stations—non­
78
2,271
telegraphers)------ ----------------------------------993
75 Chief train dispatchers.................................. .................
3,154
76 Train dispatchers. ____________ _______ ______
159
77 Train directors.. ___ _________ _____________ ___
424
84 Station masters and assistants________________ . .
87
85 Supervising baggage agents. _. ------------ ------------406
86 Baggage agents and assistants______ _____ ______
9,062
87 Baggage, parcel room, and station attendants.._ . .
372
88 General foremen (freight stations, warehouses, etc.)..
89 Assistant general foremen (freight stations, ware­
210
houses, etc.) ------------- ----------------------------------See footnotes at end of table.
48




90
91
92
93
94
95
98
99
102
103
104

Occupational group

Number of
Iemployees 2

Other transportation —Continued
Gang foremen (freight stations and other labor)____
Callers, loaders, scalers, sealers, and perishable-freight
inspectors___________________________________
Truckers (stations, warehouses, and platforms)_____
Laborers (coal and ore docks and grain elevators)___
Common laborers (stations, warehouses, etc.)______
Stewards, dining-car supervisors, etc______________
Officers, workers, and attendants on vessels; shore
workers_____________________________________
Transportation and dining-service inspectors_______
Bridge operators and helpers_____________________
Crossing and bridge flagmen and gatemen_________
Foremen (laundry) and laundry workers__________
Professional, cle rical, and general.

7
6
5
4
3
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26

Clerks________________________________________
Clerks (routine work)_______________________
Senior clerks and clerical specialists____________
Chief clerks (minor departments) and assistant
chief clerks and supervising cashiers_________
Supervisory and chief clerks (major departments).
Professional and subprofessional assistants_________
Mechanical device operators (office)_______________
Stenographers and secretaries____________________
Stenographers and typists_______________________
Storekeepers, sales agents, and buyers_____________
Ticket agents and assistant ticket agents___________
Traveling auditors or accountants. ________________
Telephone switchboard operators and office assistants.
Messengers and office boys. ______________________
Elevator operators and other office attendants______
Lieutenants and sergeants of police._______________
Patrolmen and watchmen_______________________
Traffic and various other agents, inspectors, and in­
vestigators___________________________________
Claim agents or investigators_____________________
Freight claim agents or investigators______________
Chief claim agents or investigators________________
Miscellaneous trades workers (other than plumbers) __
Motor vehicle and motor car operators__ __________
Teamsters and stablemen________________________
Janitors and cleaners____________________________
Maintenance of equipment and stores

57
56
61
55
63
58
54
64
66
65
50
51
52
53
59
60

Carmen_______________
Freight_____________
Coach and locomotive.
Machinists____________________________________
Boilermakers__________________________________
Sheet-metal workers____________________________
Electrical workers (maintenance of electrical equip­
ment) _______________________________________
Blacksmiths___________________________________
Skilled trades helpers___________________________
Apprentices__________
Regular apprentices.
Helper apprentices.
General, assistant general, and department foremen. _
General and assistant general foremen (stores)______
Equipment, shop, electrical, material, and supplies
inspectors________________________________
Gang foremen and gang leaders (skilled labor)______
Power-station operators, load dispatchers, and electriccrane operators. ______________________________
Electric equipment operators (coal and ore elevator,
car dumper, etc.)_____________________________

2,957
15, 413
28, 295
1, 569
5,130
1,875
6,194
827
1,019
12,473
610
219, 647
136,948
110, 878
11,676
10,948
3,446
8,374
8,318
3,956
16,082
2,395
1,255
1,294
4, 734
3, 460
984
1,622
5,461
11,134
969
445
145
901
5,003
7
6,160
365,142
78,338
57,250
21,088
45,365
12,272
11,249
10,982
5, 713
81, 768
11,315
9,097
2,218
8,807
336
2,361
8,658
2,640
390

Employment on class I railroads, by occupation, 1948 1—Continued
ICC
division
number

Occupational group

Number of ICC
employees 2 division
number

Maintenance of equipment and stores—Continued
62
67
68
69
70
71
72
73
74
42
41
30
32
33
31
34

Gang foremen (shops, enginehouses, and power
p lan ts).,___.
. _ ...
Gang foremen (stores and ice, reclamation, and timbertreating)__ ____ ..
......
Classified laborers (shops, enginehouses, power
plants)
______
General laborers (shops, enginehouses, power plants).
General laborers (stores and ice, reclamation, and
timber-treating)
__
___
Stationary engineers (steam)
___
______
Stationary firemen, oilers, coal passers, and water
tenders. .
....
Maintenance of way and structures________
Trackmen _ __________________________ . _ ___
Section m en ___________ ____________ ______
Extra-gang men. ---- -------- -------------------Skilled bridge and building workers and helpers____
Carpenters _ _ . . .
_________
Painters .. . . .
_______
Masons, bricklayers, plasterers, and plumbers___
Ironworkers
.
____
___
Helpers and apprentices. . . .
. ....

532
12,064
1,319
1,554
25, 533
21, 929
17, 243
1,678
3,096
266, 959
171, 607
122, 221
49,386
27,064
13, 870
2, 292
2,010
991
7, 901

46
49
48
27
28
29
35
36
37
38
39
40
43
44
45
47
1
2

Occupational group
Maintenance of way and structures—Continued
Signal workers__
_ __ _______
Signalmen and signal maintainers _ . . .
Signalmen and signal maintainer helpers
Assistant signalmen and assistant signal main­
tainers________ _________________________
Roadmasters, general foremen, and assistants... _. __
Maintenance-of-way and scale inspectors .. ____
Bridge and building gang foremen (skilled labor).
-------- -Portable-steam-equipment operators
Portable-steam-equipment operator helpers._ . __
Pumping-equipment operators
Gang foremen (extra-gang and work train laborers)...
Gang foremen (bridge and building laborers, etc.)___
Gang or section foremen
. ...
________
Laborers (other than track and roadway); gardeners
and farmers ___ . . . . .
General and assistant general foremen, and inspectors
(signal, telegraph, and electrical transmission)..
Gang foremen (signal and telegraph skilled-trades
labor). _ _____________________ ________
Linemen and groundmen
_____ ______ _
Executives, officials, and staff assistants______
Executives, general officers, and assistants
____
Division officers, assistants, and staff assistants_____

Number of
employees 2
14,241
8, 402
3,330
2, 509
3,172
1,155
4,093
5,118
672
1,668
4,152
263
24, 523
3,671
1,393
1,546
2, 621
15,499
6, 835
8, 664

1 Derived from Wage Statistics of Class I Steam Railways in the United 2 The employment figures are averages of the 12 midmonth employment
counts as shown in the M-300 report.
States, Statement No. M-300, Year 1948, Bureau of Transport Economics
3 Includes some employees not in the passenger service category.
and Statistics, Interstate Commerce Commission. Occupations discussed
in the text are listed first in each group.




49

Appendix B
Suggested Readings

Bureau of Transport Economics and Statistics, U. S. Interstate Com­
merce Commission, Washington. Published annually.
Changes in Railroad Wages, 1943-44- By Witt Bowden. (In Monthly Labor Review, U. S.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Washington, March 1944, pp. 611-627. Reprinted as
Serial No. R. 1634.)
Economic and Transportation Prospects. Association of American Railroads, Washington,
January 1946.

Accident Bulletin.

Labor and Transportation: Program and Objectives of Transportation Labor in the Postwar
Period.

Railway Labor Executives Association, Washington, May 1946.
Quiz on Railroads and Railroading: 450 Questions and Answers. Association of American
Railroads. Washington, April 1947. Sixth Edition.
Railroad Men and Wages. By Joseph E. Monroe. Association of American Railroads.
Washington, July 1947.
Railroading From the Head End. By S. K. Farrington. New York, Doubleday, Doran &
Co., 1943.
Railroads in This Century: A Summary of the Facts and Figures, With Charts. Association of
American Railroads, Washington, March 1944.
Railway Age. Philadelphia, Simmons-Boardman Publishing Corp. Published weekly.
Railway Wage Changes, 1941-40. By James A. Hart. (In Monthly Labor Review, U. S.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Washington, September 1946, pp. 335-341.)
The Economics of Transportation in America. By Kent L. Healy. New York, The Ronald
Press Co., 1940.
The Monthly Review. U. S. Railroad Retirement Board, Chicago.
The Story of American Railroads. By Stewart H. Holbrook. New York, Crown Pub­
lishers, 1947.
Thirteenth Annual Report, Including the Report of the National Railroad Adjustment Board, for
the Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 1947. U. S. National Mediation Board, Washington,
1948.
This Fascinating Railroad Business. By Robert S. Henry. New York, Bobbs-Merill Co.,
1943.
Trains, Tracks and Travel. By Thurman Van Metre. New York, Simmons-Boardman
Publishing Corp., 1946.
Wage Statistics of Class I Steam Railways in the United Slates. Bureau of Transport Eco­
nomics and Statistics, U. S. Interstate Commerce Commission, Washington. Pub­
lished monthly.

50




Occupational Outlook Publications of the
Bureau of Labor Statistics

Studies of employment trends and opportuni­
ties in the various occupations and professions
are made by the Occupational Outlook Service
of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Reports are prepared for use in the vocational
guidance of veterans, young people in schools, and
others considering the choice of an occupation.
Schools concerned with vocational training and
employers and trade unions interested in on-thejob training have also found the reports helpful
in planning programs in line with prospective
employment opportunities.
Two types of reports are issued, in addition to
the Occupational Outlook Handbook:
Occupational outlooh bulletins describe the
long-run outlook for employment in each occupa­
tion and give information on earnings, working
conditions, and the training required.
Special reports are issued from time to time on
such subjects as the general employment outlook,
trends in the various States, and occupational
mobility.
The reports are issued as bulletins of the Bureau
of Labor Statistics, and may be purchased from
the Superintendent of Documents, Washington
25, D. C.
Occupational Outlook Handbook

Includes brief reports on each of 288 occupa­
tions of interest in vocational guidance, including
professions; skilled trades; clerical, sales, and
service occupations; and the major types of farm­
ing. Each report describes the employment
trends and outlook, the training qualifications re­
quired, earnings, and working conditions. In­
troductory sections summarize the major trends
in population and employment, and in the broad
industrial and occupational groups, as back­
ground for an understanding of the individual
occupations.
The Handbook is designed for use in counseling,
in the training of counselors, in courses or units



on occupations, and as a general reference. It is
illustrated with 79 photographs and 47 charts.
Occupational Outlook Handbook—Employment
Information on Major Occupations for
Use in Guidance.
Bulletin 940 (1948). Price $1.75. Illus.
Occupational Outlook Bulletins

Employment Opportunities for Diesel-Engine
Mechanics
Bulletin 813 (1945). 5 cents.
Employment Opportunities in Aviation Occu­
pations, Part I—Postwar Employment
Outlook
Bulletin 837-1 (1945). (Edition sold out;
copies are on file in many libraries.)
Employment Opportunities in Aviation Occu­
pations, Part II—Duties, Qualifications,
Earnings, and Working Conditions
Bulletin 837-2 (1946). 25 cents. Illus.
Employment Outlook for Automobile Mechanics
Bulletin 842 (1945). 10 cents.
Employment Opportunities for Welders
Bulletin 844 (1945). 10 cents.
Postwar Outlook for Physicians
Bulletin 863 (1946). 10 cents.
Employment Outlook in Foundry Occupations
Bulletin 880 (1946). 15 cents. Illus.
Employment Outlook for Business-Machine
Servicemen
Bulletin 892 (1947). 15 cents. Illus.
Employment Outlook in Machine-Shop Occupa­
tions
Bulletin 895 (1947). 20 cents, Illus.
Employment Outlook in Printing Occupations
Bulletin 902 (1947). 20 cents. Illus.
51

Employment Outlook in Hotel Occupations
Bulletin 905 (1947). 10 cents. Illus.
Employment Outlook in the Plastics Products
Industry
Bulletin 929 (1948). 15 cents. Illus.
Employment Outlook in Electric Light and
Power Occupations
Bulletin 944 (1949). 30 cents. Illus.
Employment Outlook in Radio and Television
Broadcasting Occupations
Bulletin 958 (1949). 30 cents. Illus.
Employment Outlook in the Building Trades
Bulletin 967 (1949). 50 cents. Illus.
Special Reports

Occupational Data for Counselors. A Handbook
of Census Information Selected for Use
in Guidance
Bulletin 817 (1945). 15 cents (prepared
jointly with the Occupational Information
and Guidance Service, U. S. Office of
Education).

52




Factors Affecting Earnings in Chemistry and
Chemical Engineering
Bulletin 881 (1946). 10 cents.
Economic Status of Ceramic Engineers, 1939 to
1947
Mimeographed. Free; order directly from
Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Occupational Outlook Mailing List

Schools, vocational guidance agencies, and
others who wish to receive brief summaries of
each new Occupational Outlook report may be
placed on a mailing list kept for this purpose.
Requests should be addressed to the Bureau of
Labor Statistics, U. S. Department of Labor,
Washington 25, D. C., specifying the Occupa­
tional Outlook Mailing List. Please give your
postal zone number.


Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, One Federal Reserve Bank Plaza, St. Louis, MO 63102