New To Trucking Do you wanna drive trains or trucks?


Well-Known Member
Have you thought about driving either?

Here are some samenesses and differences to ponder.

Trains and Heavy Commercial Trucks


1. both are land vehicles that are self-propelled and roll upon wheels; both railroads and trucking are modes of freight transportation over land

2. both are large and heavy

3. both are commonly fueled by a petroleum product called diesel in modern times

4. both commonly haul freight, large equipment and commodities

5. both often require at least one personnel on board the vehicle to operate it

6. both often have loud horns

7. both often consist of two or more inter-coupled vehicular units

8. both often employ complex airbrake systems

10. both industries require their operators (drivers or engineers) to spend long days away from home

11. both modes of freight are dangerous to work around so cowards need not apply

12. both offer good pay and benefits but many people think it sucks to enjoy little or no social life and have to be on the road for long periods of time: the transportation industry is absolutely not for homebodies


1. trains are guided by a network of tracks consisting of two steel rails and mechanical switches called a railroad: trucks are free-steered over public motor roadways - trains use dynamic braking (electrical resistance) while trucks use engine-compression (or jake) braking

2. trains are much larger and heavier than trucks

3. trains have steel wheels: trucks have rubber tires - many modern train locomotives are diesel-electric with a simple 8-position throttle control while truck tractors have a complex clutch and transmission for gear shifting

4. trains often run over private railways (right-of-way): trucks often run over public roadways or off road

5. trains have been in existence longer than trucks

6. virtually all railroad employees in America are under union shops have special federal retirement benefits: many truck drivers in modern times lack union representation and only get normal social security upon retirement

7. becoming a truck driver requires a CDL and a few weeks of training and then getting hired by a carrier: becoming a locomotive engineer requires working hard-labor jobs (brakeman, switchman, conductor) to get to that position

8. RR jobs are much tougher to land than trucking jobs: the trucking industry is usually about 50.000 drivers short in America but too many people want to drive trains and locomotive engineer turnover is low in railroads: there are so many more trucks than trains so employees for trucks are in high demand
How the hell do you drive a train?


The Grand Poobah!
I used to work on the rail and the course for engineer was 3 years. I see the running trades crews shunting box cars and tankers to customer yards and I tell ya' the junior man works his ass off in the cold and keep in mind the track area is not plowed, So yeah he is knee deep in snow and probably has wet frozen feet.
Self driving trains are far closer to being a reality than self driving trucks. keep in mind that their will still be a crew person or persons on the train to do the grunt work.


Well-Known Member
Staff member
Clutch in, first gear, clutch out GENTLY.

You can float once you're more experienced.
And you can get some great fuel savings when you learn to work the hills properly. Just pray nobody tries to cross the tracks when you are on a good downhill run!


New Member
I was an engineer for BNSF. It's about 5 weeks of classroom and 3 months of running with a qualified engineer. I was a conductor for 2 weeks before I started training to be an engineer, but sometimes it can take 10+ years to get an engineer spot depending on where you work. Average seems to be about 3-4 years before you win a spot to engineer training.

I think conductor class was about 3 months.

It's a fun job but your sleep schedule usually changes every other day. That's the only reason it pays so well, but the wages haven't kept up with inflation, so the pay is a lot less than thirty plus years ago.

Locomotives can already run themselves. Now they are starting to talk to the signals as well. So far the plan is to keep an engineer on the train and put a conductor in a truck that covers a big section of track to help trains that need it. I don't think it will be more than 5 years before this happens.

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