Mark up is right after the initial training. Classroom at Wilmington and then a few weeks posting (on the job training) with crews at your crew base. That is not six months. Six months is the probationary period after marking up.I'd say my process was a few months from the initial application and offer. The Culture Fit assessment is just looking to see if you will be a good fit within the Amtrak culture (of safety). This test is relatively new as it is part of a new initial online assessment. As long as you have a mind for safety and a bit of common sense you should pass that just fine. After that there generally is a written testing session. Details and some sample questions along with a Realistic Job Preview will be sent to you. For mine, it was in a small group session at the crew base I applied to. They explain a bit about the position, pay, benefits, and expectations (basically extra board hours, nights away from home, the assigned day off isn't always guaranteed, etc...) Once you pass the test a "fit test" will be ordered at a local contracted facility. This basically tests your arm and leg strength. There is an example of the test on the Amtrak Careers website. Assuming a good result on that, next step generally will be an interview where you are asked a series of standardized questions. If you make it to that step you will also receive some sample things to look for to prepare. If you are selected they will then do a more detailed physical and drug screen. Assuming you make it pass all that you will receive your ticket to Wilmington for the 8 week (average) training course. This is a lot of classroom and practical application of that classroom training to familiarize you with working on the railroad. This will be your first experience of some of the actual physical and mental demands of the job. After that you will be sent back to your crew base for on the job training. You will be on probation working with another experienced conductor so this is really the time to perform and demonstrate what you have learned as well as clarify any concerns you have in terms of doing the job well. This is the real test as you will be assisting real passengers on a real revenue train. After a few months (generally 6+), if you do well and pass everything you will "mark up" and start the job as an Assistant Passenger Conductor at the regular starting rate of pay (up to this point you will still be at training wages). You will work the extra board and be required to report in within 2 hours of getting called in. You will have one day off a week but it is not guaranteed (all depends on if you work an outbound trip on the day before your day off... if so you are working your day off back although you still will receive some time off after that). Most likely you will not be home every night depending on what trips you are assigned. Many are outbound one day and return the next day.
On the Northeast Corrider the train crew almost always returns home at the end of a trip. Most likely train crew is home every day on the NEC. A trip is continuous from sign up time to return to home crew base. Also there will be one relief day every week. It will be the assigned day ( the day is assigned by seniority and will be the same day every week for each month, it could change month to month if the another day is bid for or someone outbids for the day held the previous month) since on the NEC train crews return home the same day..