Railroad Jobs in California - Southern, Northern - Bakersfield, San Diego

The state of California aka Golden State is the most populous state in the nation, with a long and rich railroad history. If you are looking for railroad jobs in California, I believe there are very good chances to land one.

The state was accepted into the U.S in the 1850, and until 1869, California was in many ways isolated. The history of the railroad in California began with the transcontinental rail lines, linking the state to the rest of the country, contributing to an exponential economic and social growth.

Before we look into the potential railroad jobs providers in California, which are plenty by the way, let’s get some information about the state economy and climate, which has a direct correlation with the railroad industry and your future job as a railroader.

California has a strong economy, diverse and dynamic, with strong sectors in agriculture, technology, finance, real estate services, if California would have been a country it would have the fifth-largest economy in the world, according to this source.

With a warm Mediterranean climate, the state offers in many areas a pleasurable outdoor experience, since you might work outdoors a lot, this is very important.
You would rather work as a yardmaster in California, on a beautiful morning of December 25th, than one in Chicago in the same period of the year. Believe me.
Unfortunately over time, drought and wildfires have become more frequent which can be dangerous for a railroad.

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We can talk about so many things, so let’s start with the most important ones, your future career as a railroad worker.

It doesn’t matter if you are new or you’re a veteran with years of experience as a conductor, engineer or yardmaster. California’s railroad industry will probably fulfill all your career dreams, why am I saying that? Because it’s one of the most diverse in the country with over 25 freight railroads.

California’s railroad industry has over 5,300 miles of track, which is a lot compared with other states, also, the number of railroad workers exceeded 8,600 people.

So where can I find railroad jobs in California?

Let’s start with Class Is, the best railroads to work for, at least from the financial point of view.
The state of California is served by two (2) Class Is, which are BNSF Railway and Union Pacific, as I mentioned above, Class I offer the best salaries accompanied by the greatest benefits, but there is something else, working for a Class I is not as easy as it sounds.

I brought this up many times throughout my website, working as a railroader may not be for everybody. The railroad will need you available on-call most of the time, sometimes you will have to work weekends and holidays. In conclusion, it comes up to you to decide what is best for you, but you need to know the cons as you know the pros of being a railroader.

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If you are interested in working for Class I, you can contact those railroads directly, if perhaps you are looking for a smaller railroad company, I compiled a list of all the Class II and Class III railroads that might offer jobs in California.

Regional Railroad that might offer railroad jobs in California.

The Central Oregon and Pacific Railroad (CORP) is a regional railroad operating between Northern California and Eugene, Oregon, United States. CORP operates on 305 miles of track, with an estimated traffic of 17,000 cars/ year, consisting in general of logs, plywood and other lumber products.

Shortline and Terminal Railroads that might offer railroad jobs in California.

The San Joaquin Valley Railroad (SJVR) operates about 297 miles of track primarily on several lines in California's Central Valley/San Joaquin Valley outside Fresno, California and Bakersfield, California. The San Joaquin Valley Railroad has trackage rights over Union Pacific, from Fresno - Goshen Jct - Famoso - Bakersfield - Algoso. SJVR is part of the Pacific Region Division of Genesee & Wyoming Inc.

The Arizona and California Railroad ( ARZC) is a Class III that was a subdivision of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway (ATSF), general traffic consists of petroleum gas, steel and lumber; the railroad hauls around 12,000 carloads per year. Arizona & California operates on three segments, totaling tracks that are 297 miles long.

The California Northern Railroad (CFNR) is owned by Genesee & Wyoming, Inc. CFNR transports mainly food, agricultural commodities and stone products, hauling around 26,000 carloads of goods on 255 miles of track.

The Northwestern Pacific Railroad ( NWP) operates 62 miles of track between Schellville and Windsor with freight and Sonoma–Marin Area Rail Transit commuter trains. Previously NWP was a regional railroad (Class II) that served the entire North Coast of California.

The Modesto and Empire Traction Company (MET) is a Class III short-line railroad operating in California's San Joaquin Valley. The MET operates on 5 miles of mainline track, as well as an additional 48.7 miles of yard and industry track. The railroad hauled over 24,000 carloads per year (1996 estimate) and the general traffic consisted of food products, wine, syrup, plastic, paper products.

The Pacific Sun Railroad is a Class III railroad in San Diego County that works on the Escondido Sub, the Miramar Branch, and in Stuart Mesa Yard. It is based from Stuart Mesa Yard in Oceanside, California.

The San Diego and Imperial Valley Railroad ( SDIY) is a class III railroad, operating on 33 miles of track, with traffic mostly consisting of petroleum products, agricultural products, and wood pulp. The SDIY hauled around 6,500 carloads in 2008.

The Santa Maria Valley Railroad (SMV) is a 14.8 miles Class III railroad that interchanges with the Union Pacific Railroad's Coast Line at Guadalupe, California. The general traffic consists of asphalt, fertilizer, lumber, machinery, handling over 2,600 carloads per year, a 1996 estimation.

The Ventura County Railroad (VCRR) is a class III railroad, another subsidiary of Genesee & Wyoming, connecting the Union Pacific Railroad in Oxnard to South Oxnard and Port Hueneme. VCRR operates 12 miles of track, hauling paper, petroleum, automobiles, wood pulp. With a traffic of about 2,000 carloads per year.

The Yreka Western Railroad Company (YW) is a shortline railroad operating between the Union Pacific Railroad interchange at Montague and the City of Yreka, California. YW operates on 9 miles of track.

The Trona Railway (TRC) is a short-line railroad owned by Searles Valley Minerals. The TRC interchanges with the Union Pacific Railroad at Searles, California. It operates on 30.5 miles of track and it handles about 18,000 carloads/year mostly consisting of sulfuric acid, soda ash, potash, borax, coal.

Stockton Terminal and Eastern Railroad (STE) provides service to several companies around the Stockton area, in San Joaquin County, California. It operates 25 miles of track connecting with the BNSF Railway, the Union Pacific Railroad, and the Central California Traction Company.

The Sierra Northern Railway (SERA) is the result of two companies merging, Yolo Shortline Railroad and Sierra Railroad. Today the line operates 105 miles of track in California.

The Santa Maria Valley Railroad (SMV) is a 14.8 miles Class III railroad that interchanges with the Union Pacific Railroad's Coast Line at Guadalupe, California. SMV handles about 2,000 carloads/year.

Heritage, Vacation, Freight Class III Railroads in California that might offer railroad jobs.

The Santa Cruz and Monterey Bay Railroad (SCMB) is an historic railway corridor running between Davenport to the Watsonville Junction where it connects to the Union Pacific. SCMB provides both freight transportation and excursion trains.

The Santa Cruz, Big Trees and Pacific Railway (SCBG) is a freight and heritage railroad in Northern California. SCBG uses diesel locomotives to haul excursion trains over an 8-mile long route between Felton and an interchange with the Saint Paul and Pacific Railroad. From there, trains continue on to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk on the SPP Watsonville–Davenport line. The SCBG is one of very few railroads in North America with extensive street running rails.

The Sacramento Southern Railroad is a heritage railroad owned by the California State Railroad Museum which operates excursion trains on it.

The Napa Valley Wine Train is a privately operated excursion train that runs between Napa and St. Helena, California.

Like I said, California has a bunch of railroads operating in the state, and these are not all of them, as we go further I will list the passenger railroads operating in the state, they might offer railroad jobs in California as well. Anyhow as of now, please contact the above mentioned railroads directly for potential employment.

Passenger railroads offering railroad jobs in California.

Let’s start with the biggest, the Class I, AmTrak . The railroad has seven (7) trains operating throughout the state.

  • California Zephyr,
  • Coast Starlight
  • Southwest Chief,
  • Sunset Limited
  • Capitol Corridor
  • Pacific Surfliner
  • San Joaquin
  • California has an extensive list of commuter railroads, beside AmTrak there are fourteen (14) commuter rails, out of which 8 are local, all these are potential employers. I will list them below.

    The Altamont Corridor Express (ACEX) is a commuter rail service in California, running between Stockton and San Jose during peak hours only. The 86-mile route has ten stops, with travel time about 2 hours and 12 minutes end-to-end.

    The Arrow will be a commuter rail service which is currently under construction in San Bernardino County.

    Caltrain is a commuter rail line, operating in San Francisco and Santa Clara Valley. It operates on 72 miles of rail, owning 29 locomotives and 132 passenger cars.

    Coaster (NCTC) operates 7 locomotives and 28 passenger cars, on 41 miles rail track. The railroad is located in San Diego.

    Metrolink (SCAX) is a commuter rail system in Southern California consisting of seven lines and 62 stations operating on 534 miles of rail network.

    Sonoma–Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) is a passenger rail service and bicycle-pedestrian pathway project in Sonoma and Marin counties.The project is under construction but when done it will serve a 70-mile corridor between Cloverdale in northern Sonoma County and Larkspur Landing in Marin County.

    The local commuter rails offering railroad jobs in California.

  • Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART)
  • Los Angeles County Metro Rail (LACZ)
  • San Francisco Municipal Railway (MUNI)
  • OC Streetcar (under construction)
  • Sacramento RT Light Rail (SCRT)
  • San Diego Trolley (SDTI)
  • Santa Clara Valley Transportation
  • Authority light rail (VTA)
  • Sprinter (SDNX)

    There we are, we have listed most of the railroads in California, you have many choices, there are states in the country with 2 or 3 railroads active, in conclusion, getting a railroad job in California should be quite easy. If you are interested in the locomotive engineer position I strongly suggest you to read more about the engineer's salary as well as the differences between an engineer and a conductor.

    I hope this article was helpful in you finding the best railroad job in California!

    Good luck!

  • Looking for a railroad job in a different state? Check out the map below!