Newbie with questions about becoming OBS Trainee

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Hello everyone, my name is DJ and I'm new to the site. I just finished the process to become a OBS Trainee, all that's left is the background and drug test. Trying to get as much info as I can before I sign. If there's anyone out there who could enlighten me on the job, the conditions, the hours and anything else that may be helpful would be much appreciated. I come from working 40 hours a week full time and I heard that you're allotted a certain amount of hours each month, is that true? Also, there is 3 week training and that the pay would be $21.00 hourly for the 3 weeks, but what happens after that? Does the pay remain the same or does it change? I'm sorry, but I still don't know how the system works. How steady is the work, and during the interview they had mentioned something about a extra board and I would have to bid on jobs. I think they said if I'm not on the train I'm not working so I don't get paid. That concept is for most jobs unless you have sick/vacation time. I also know the hours vary by day or by the route that I'm on which really shouldn't be a problem, I've worked crazy hours before. I would really appreciate if any of you could give me some clarification on the position, it would really help me out. Thank again. Oh, by the way, it's a Los Angeles position.
 

PVD

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There are a few people on this forum who are current OBS. They would be the ones (if they are comfortable with it) to discuss those points you raised. It might be something they do via private messaging, not publicly. In any case, best of luck as you embark on your new career. Looking forward to seeing you aboard in the future.
 

danasgoodstuff

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Welcome. I can't answer your questions, but someone here should be able to. There are some Amtrak employees (and ex-employees) here, but they may not see this for awhile if the're working. (posted at the same time as PVD)
 

Acela150

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Hello everyone, my name is DJ and I'm new to the site. I just finished the process to become a OBS Trainee, all that's left is the background and drug test. Trying to get as much info as I can before I sign. If there's anyone out there who could enlighten me on the job, the conditions, the hours and anything else that may be helpful would be much appreciated. I come from working 40 hours a week full time and I heard that you're allotted a certain amount of hours each month, is that true? Also, there is 3 week training and that the pay would be $21.00 hourly for the 3 weeks, but what happens after that? Does the pay remain the same or does it change? I'm sorry, but I still don't know how the system works. How steady is the work, and during the interview they had mentioned something about a extra board and I would have to bid on jobs. I think they said if I'm not on the train I'm not working so I don't get paid. That concept is for most jobs unless you have sick/vacation time. I also know the hours vary by day or by the route that I'm on which really shouldn't be a problem, I've worked crazy hours before. I would really appreciate if any of you could give me some clarification on the position, it would really help me out. Thank again. Oh, by the way, it's a Los Angeles position.
Hi DJ! First off, welcome aboard! I just started OBS in Seattle.

LA staffs the Coast Starlight, Southwest Chief, and the Sunset Limited. You’ll have some long days, and little sleep. Trust me when I say, nap when you can. I’m not exactly sure what the hours are for each train that is staffed out of LA. You’re guaranteed a certain amount of paid hours each month on the Extra Board.

I’m not sure how the pay will work for you in LA for your training. However, I believe that it’s $60 a day for OBS. Although I could be wrong. I can tell you that for me in Seattle they paid us hourly, however that is due to some state laws I believe. Pay rate is a little under $22 an hour to start, and goes up.

You will definitely be on the extra board to begin. I’m not sure how long it’ll before you’ll be able to hold a job in LA. Amtrak is going through the process of bidding jobs for OBS. Chicago had new jobs go into place recently and other crew bases are in different stages of that process.

If you have any questions please feel free to PM me. I’ll be glad to help you out.
 
Joined
Sep 23, 2021
Messages
6
Location
Monrovia, Ca
There are a few people on this forum who are current OBS. They would be the ones (if they are comfortable with it) to discuss those points you raised. It might be something they do via private messaging, not publicly. In any case, best of luck as you embark on your new career. Looking forward to seeing you aboard in the future.
Thank you very much for responding, stay safe,
 
Joined
Sep 23, 2021
Messages
6
Location
Monrovia, Ca
Hi DJ! First off, welcome aboard! I just started OBS in Seattle.

LA staffs the Coast Starlight, Southwest Chief, and the Sunset Limited. You’ll have some long days, and little sleep. Trust me when I say, nap when you can. I’m not exactly sure what the hours are for each train that is staffed out of LA. You’re guaranteed a certain amount of paid hours each month on the Extra Board.

I’m not sure how the pay will work for you in LA for your training. However, I believe that it’s $60 a day for OBS. Although I could be wrong. I can tell you that for me in Seattle they paid us hourly, however that is due to some state laws I believe. Pay rate is a little under $22 an hour to start, and goes up.

You will definitely be on the extra board to begin. I’m not sure how long it’ll before you’ll be able to hold a job in LA. Amtrak is going through the process of bidding jobs for OBS. Chicago had new jobs go into place recently and other crew bases are in different stages of that process.

If you have any questions please feel free to PM me. I’ll be glad to help you out.
Thank you very much for responding, be safe out there.
 
Joined
Sep 23, 2021
Messages
6
Location
Monrovia, Ca
Welcome. I can't answer your questions, but someone here should be able to. There are some Amtrak employees (and ex-employees) here, but they may not see this for awhile if the're working. (posted at the same time as PVD)
Thank you for responding, didn't know the correct format on using this, but I'll learn. Thank you again for your response.
 
Joined
Sep 23, 2021
Messages
6
Location
Monrovia, Ca
There are a few people on this forum who are current OBS. They would be the ones (if they are comfortable with it) to discuss those points you raised. It might be something they do via private messaging, not publicly. In any case, best of luck as you embark on your new career. Looking forward to seeing you aboard in the future.
Hi DJ! First off, welcome aboard! I just started OBS in Seattle.

LA staffs the Coast Starlight, Southwest Chief, and the Sunset Limited. You’ll have some long days, and little sleep. Trust me when I say, nap when you can. I’m not exactly sure what the hours are for each train that is staffed out of LA. You’re guaranteed a certain amount of paid hours each month on the Extra Board.

I’m not sure how the pay will work for you in LA for your training. However, I believe that it’s $60 a day for OBS. Although I could be wrong. I can tell you that for me in Seattle they paid us hourly, however that is due to some state laws I believe. Pay rate is a little under $22 an hour to start, and goes up.

You will definitely be on the extra board to begin. I’m not sure how long it’ll before you’ll be able to hold a job in LA. Amtrak is going through the process of bidding jobs for OBS. Chicago had new jobs go into place recently and other crew bases are in different stages of that process.

If you have any questions please feel free to PM me. I’ll be glad to help you out.
Thank you for responding, its very much appreciated. If you receive more than one response my apology
 

Triley

Real Lead Service Attendant
Joined
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Messages
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Somewhere between VAC and EUG
Hi DJ! First off, welcome aboard! I just started OBS in Seattle.

LA staffs the Coast Starlight, Southwest Chief, and the Sunset Limited. You’ll have some long days, and little sleep. Trust me when I say, nap when you can. I’m not exactly sure what the hours are for each train that is staffed out of LA. You’re guaranteed a certain amount of paid hours each month on the Extra Board.

I’m not sure how the pay will work for you in LA for your training. However, I believe that it’s $60 a day for OBS. Although I could be wrong. I can tell you that for me in Seattle they paid us hourly, however that is due to some state laws I believe. Pay rate is a little under $22 an hour to start, and goes up.

You will definitely be on the extra board to begin. I’m not sure how long it’ll before you’ll be able to hold a job in LA. Amtrak is going through the process of bidding jobs for OBS. Chicago had new jobs go into place recently and other crew bases are in different stages of that process.

If you have any questions please feel free to PM me. I’ll be glad to help you out.
Training pay use to be a flat rate per day, but now fluctuates depending on the area, and has been drastically increased over the old $60/day rate. I just found this out myself the other day, when looking at the pay scale, posted in Sarah's cubicle.
 

Triley

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Joined
Dec 14, 2008
Messages
1,534
Location
Somewhere between VAC and EUG
Hello everyone, my name is DJ and I'm new to the site. I just finished the process to become a OBS Trainee, all that's left is the background and drug test. Trying to get as much info as I can before I sign. If there's anyone out there who could enlighten me on the job, the conditions, the hours and anything else that may be helpful would be much appreciated. I come from working 40 hours a week full time and I heard that you're allotted a certain amount of hours each month, is that true? Also, there is 3 week training and that the pay would be $21.00 hourly for the 3 weeks, but what happens after that? Does the pay remain the same or does it change? I'm sorry, but I still don't know how the system works. How steady is the work, and during the interview they had mentioned something about a extra board and I would have to bid on jobs. I think they said if I'm not on the train I'm not working so I don't get paid. That concept is for most jobs unless you have sick/vacation time. I also know the hours vary by day or by the route that I'm on which really shouldn't be a problem, I've worked crazy hours before. I would really appreciate if any of you could give me some clarification on the position, it would really help me out. Thank again. Oh, by the way, it's a Los Angeles position.
It really comes down to if they were hiring you as SA/TA (Service Attendant/Train Attendant), or LSA (Lead Service Attendant).

@Acela150 just got hired, so he will likely be more familiar with the current hiring/training process. I've been with the company 7 years, so I may be able to fill in some of the gaps of info. However, I don't want to clutter the forums with some things, so I will PM you shortly.
 

OBS

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It really comes down to if they were hiring you as SA/TA (Service Attendant/Train Attendant), or LSA (Lead Service Attendant).

@Acela150 just got hired, so he will likely be more familiar with the current hiring/training process. I've been with the company 7 years, so I may be able to fill in some of the gaps of info. However, I don't want to clutter the forums with some things, so I will PM you shortly.
Now don't scare him away...LOL
 

Barb Stout

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Albuquerque, NM
Does "extra board" mean like being on call where you might be told that you will be going from LA to San Antonio (for example) 5 hours from now and then 2 days later you'll be on a different train and your hours and trains are ever-changing?
 

OBS

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Does "extra board" mean like being on call where you might be told that you will be going from LA to San Antonio (for example) 5 hours from now and then 2 days later you'll be on a different train and your hours and trains are ever-changing?
Yes
 

OBS

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Just curious: Do extra board denizens get any opportunity to volunteer for upcoming openings, e.g. filling in for vacationing employees? Or is it strictly last minute on-call? Can a scheduled employee offer to give away a shift to a particular person on the extra board?
It is done strictly on a first in and first out (in theory), each day the assignment clerk makes a list of open positions and then goes down the list of available extra board and assigns positions. A scheduled employee can not give their shift to a specific person. The labor contract allows extra board people to be passed over for assignments if they are accumulating many more hours than others. This is done to even out hours and potentially minimize overtime which is based on monthly hours worked...
 

Triley

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Somewhere between VAC and EUG
Does "extra board" mean like being on call where you might be told that you will be going from LA to San Antonio (for example) 5 hours from now and then 2 days later you'll be on a different train and your hours and trains are ever-changing?
Yes, though it's not as bad as the airlines. Generally speaking, you will only work trains from/to your crew base, not end up working the Crescent to NYP, if you worked the Sunset from LAX to NOL.

Just curious: Do extra board denizens get any opportunity to volunteer for upcoming openings, e.g. filling in for vacationing employees? Or is it strictly last minute on-call? Can a scheduled employee offer to give away a shift to a particular person on the extra board?
It is done strictly on a first in and first out (in theory), each day the assignment clerk makes a list of open positions and then goes down the list of available extra board and assigns positions. A scheduled employee can not give their shift to a specific person. The labor contract allows extra board people to be passed over for assignments if they are accumulating many more hours than others. This is done to even out hours and potentially minimize overtime which is based on monthly hours worked...
Mostly, no. But....if you're already working a trip, and are willing to work on your relief days (whether you're holding a regular or are on the extra board), you may be able to call and cherry pick which open job you want to work. This of course is only allowable if there are not enough people on call to fill the vacancies.

I use to do this to line myself up to work 169, 179, and 67 out of Boston, as often as possible. I would be in-bound on 66 or 190, and would be calling to asks about jobs for the following day. "67 is open again? I'll take it!"

With my commute, I absolutely hated the early morning trains, so I would try to avoid them as much as possible.

Love it! I was in Sea last month for a cruise, but you were on Vacation...
First time in two years seeing my husband's family! :p Had to. lol
 

Triley

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Can any current OBS/LSA from Miami tell me how the Extra board schedule works. And details of when you are on and off the clock
I don't believe there's anyone from MIA on this website. So let me respond based off what I know from report times for other long distance trains, and layovers.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The roundtrip for train 98/97 would likely be this:

Day 1 - Report at 6am in MIA. Go off-duty between 11pm.
Day 2 - Report back to your car at 6am. Arrive NYP/go off-duty around 11am.
Day 3 - Report 1pm in NYP. Go off-duty between 11pm.
Day 4 - Report back to your car at 6am. Arrive MIA around 6:39pm, and off-duty after end-of-trip work such as paperwork, remitting cash, stripping stock, etc.
Day 5 - Extra board/Regular: Off
Day 6 - Extra board: Rest time ends at 2:39pm. Regular: Off.
Day 7 - Extra board: May be used for work. Regular: Off

Hours worked: 17+5+9+13=44. So your rest time would expire 44 hours after arrival back in MIA. This would put your rest time ending at ~2:39pm on the second calendar day after arrival. Since there are no trains departing that day, you would be off until the following day, or longer.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The roundtrip for train 92/91 would likely be this:

Day 1 - Report at 9am in MIA. Go off-duty between 11pm.
Day 2 - Report back to your car at 6am. Arrive NYP/go off-duty around 6:50pm.
Day 3 - Report 9am in NYP. Go off-duty between 11pm.
Day 4 - Report back to your car at 6am. Arrive MIA around 5:58pm, and off-duty after end-of-trip work such as paperwork, remitting cash, stripping stock, etc.
Day 5 - Extra board/Regular: Off
Day 6 - Extra board: Rest time ends at 5:58pm. Regular: Off.
Day 7 - Extra board: May be used for work. Regular: Off

Hours worked: 14+13+14+12=53. So your rest time would expire 48 hours after arrival back in MIA (since you are entitled to the rest of 48 hours or time worked, whichever is less). This would put your rest time ending at ~5:58pm on the second calendar day after arrival. Since there are no trains departing that day, you would be off until the following day, or longer.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

So you may get extra days off, like you could be sitting at home for a week, if there's no vacancies to be fulled. Or, they could be begging you to work extra trips, if there's not enough people to work. Looking at these rotations, I may have the crew turns pegged wrong, since it would make more sense to balance out the hours by having 98's crew turn for 91, not 97. But based on the previous experiment of the Silver Star not having dining service, while the Silver Meteor did have dining service, I don't think they interchange the crews like this.

@OBS do you have any knowledge on how they handle this?
 
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It really comes down to if they were hiring you as SA/TA (Service Attendant/Train Attendant), or LSA (Lead Service Attendant).

@Acela150 just got hired, so he will likely be more familiar with the current hiring/training process. I've been with the company 7 years, so I may be able to fill in some of the gaps of info. However, I don't want to clutter the forums with some things, so I will PM you shortly.
Thank you for respondi
Hi DJ! First off, welcome aboard! I just started OBS in Seattle.

LA staffs the Coast Starlight, Southwest Chief, and the Sunset Limited. You’ll have some long days, and little sleep. Trust me when I say, nap when you can. I’m not exactly sure what the hours are for each train that is staffed out of LA. You’re guaranteed a certain amount of paid hours each month on the Extra Board.

I’m not sure how the pay will work for you in LA for your training. However, I believe that it’s $60 a day for OBS. Although I could be wrong. I can tell you that for me in Seattle they paid us hourly, however that is due to some state laws I believe. Pay rate is a little under $22 an hour to start, and goes up.

You will definitely be on the extra board to begin. I’m not sure how long it’ll before you’ll be able to hold a job in LA. Amtrak is going through the process of bidding jobs for OBS. Chicago had new jobs go into place recently and other crew bases are in different stages of that process.

If you have any questions please feel free to PM me. I’ll be glad to help you out.
Thank you for responding, stay safe out there on the rails.
 

OBS

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I don't believe there's anyone from MIA on this website. So let me respond based off what I know from report times for other long distance trains, and layovers.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The roundtrip for train 98/97 would likely be this:

Day 1 - Report at 6am in MIA. Go off-duty between 11pm.
Day 2 - Report back to your car at 6am. Arrive NYP/go off-duty around 11am.
Day 3 - Report 1pm in NYP. Go off-duty between 11pm.
Day 4 - Report back to your car at 6am. Arrive MIA around 6:39pm, and off-duty after end-of-trip work such as paperwork, remitting cash, stripping stock, etc.
Day 5 - Extra board/Regular: Off
Day 6 - Extra board: Rest time ends at 2:39pm. Regular: Off.
Day 7 - Extra board: May be used for work. Regular: Off

Hours worked: 17+5+9+13=44. So your rest time would expire 44 hours after arrival back in MIA. This would put your rest time ending at ~2:39pm on the second calendar day after arrival. Since there are no trains departing that day, you would be off until the following day, or longer.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The roundtrip for train 92/91 would likely be this:

Day 1 - Report at 9am in MIA. Go off-duty between 11pm.
Day 2 - Report back to your car at 6am. Arrive NYP/go off-duty around 6:50pm.
Day 3 - Report 9am in NYP. Go off-duty between 11pm.
Day 4 - Report back to your car at 6am. Arrive MIA around 5:58pm, and off-duty after end-of-trip work such as paperwork, remitting cash, stripping stock, etc.
Day 5 - Extra board/Regular: Off
Day 6 - Extra board: Rest time ends at 5:58pm. Regular: Off.
Day 7 - Extra board: May be used for work. Regular: Off

Hours worked: 14+13+14+12=53. So your rest time would expire 48 hours after arrival back in MIA (since you are entitled to the rest of 48 hours or time worked, whichever is less). This would put your rest time ending at ~5:58pm on the second calendar day after arrival. Since there are no trains departing that day, you would be off until the following day, or longer.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

So you may get extra days off, like you could be sitting at home for a week, if there's no vacancies to be fulled. Or, they could be begging you to work extra trips, if there's not enough people to work. Looking at these rotations, I may have the crew turns pegged wrong, since it would make more sense to balance out the hours by having 98's crew turn for 91, not 97. But based on the previous experiment of the Silver Star not having dining service, while the Silver Meteor did have dining service, I don't think they interchange the crews like this.

@OBS do you have any knowledge on how they handle this?
The last I knew, 98 turned for 91 and 92 for 97 to balance the hours

ETA PennyK might have a more up to date idea...
 

pennyk

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The last I knew, 98 turned for 91 and 92 for 97 to balance the hours
That is my understanding, according to the crews I encountered in the last couple of months. However, the attendant in the 12 sleeping car on 98 turns to 97.
 
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