Industries & Professions /
The U.S. Department of Labor predicts average employment growth for rail transportation workers through 2018, although the outlook varies depending upon the specific occupation. Job opportunities are not promising for railroad conductors. Rail passenger services to many points have been discontinued. Although the volume of railroad freight business is expected to increase in the coming years, the use of mechanization, automation, and larger, faster trains is expected to reduce the need for new rail transportation workers. Computers are now used to keep track of empty freight cars, match empty cars with the closest load, and dispatch trains. Also, new work rules that allow two- and three-person crews instead of the traditional five-person crews are becoming more widely used, and these factors combine to lessen the need for conductors and other crew workers. The lack of track is also reducing the need for passenger rail workers. Some employment growth is expected, however, due to the 2008 Rail Safety Improvement Act, which increases the number of hours crews must rest between shifts. More workers will be needed to fill in these gaps.