Railroad Jobs in North Dakota – Ultimate Guide

Railroad jobs in North Dakota heavily lie on the two class I railroads and Amtrak. There are also three class II regionals and two class III shortlines.

railroad jobs in north dakota

North Dakota is a significant location for two freight railways. These are BNSF and the Canadian Pacific.

With these two big players alone, you’ve got higher chances of scoring a railroad job. On top of this, North Dakota also houses three Class II regional railroads.

These are the Dakota, Missouri Valley, and Western, Northern Plains, and Red River Valley and Western.

And finally, there are two shortline railroads operating in the state. All in all, North Dakota totals around 3,300 miles of freight trackage.

The state also falls under the top 15 states in terms of miles of track. It falls just behind Wisconsin and above Oklahoma. 

Amtrak also runs through the state. They have seven stations in the Empire Builder route.

Agriculture is a huge part of this state’s economy. It was (and still is) a core component of the country’s heartland. 

So, as you might expect, it also experienced an abandonment of railways in the 1970s. But, did you know that its overall miles of trackage reached an all-time high of around 5,300 miles? 

Nevertheless, its heritage still lives on today in the industry and among train fans like us. 

So, if you’re looking to start railroading, railroad jobs in North Dakota are a good place to start. And as a whole, the railroad industry will offer you a good career path. 

We’re here to help you land railroad jobs in North Dakota. Today, we discuss all the railroad companies you can apply for.

We also discuss the economic importance of the state’s railways. And finally, we provide some helpful advice for new railroaders. 

Let’s start. 

Top 4 Economic Benefits Of Railroads In North Dakota

The rail network in North Dakota is an invaluable part of the state. It is an efficient method of moving goods inside and out of the region.

Rail service also offers several advantages over other modes of transportation. Mainly because of its size and capacity.

It targets a wide range of economic indicators, including:

#1: It Promotes Local Goods 

As mentioned, North Dakota really thrives in agriculture. The state has plenty of home-grown commodities.

There are 180,000 carloads of farm products transported every year. 

Thanks to the railways, people of the country and around the world can reach these goods. The state’s local economy grows because of this.

Other commodities that come from North Dakota are: 

  • Petroleum/Gas products – 107,000 carloads per year
  • Food – 55,000 carloads per year
  • Coal – 38,000 per year 
Cargo train platform with freight train container

#2: Capacity To Ship More Freight 

Much more cargo can be moved in a single train car than one truck.

For instance, North Dakota had a total of 145 million tons of freight in 2019. An extra 8 million trucks would be needed if these were shipped through trucking alone. 

#3: Reduces Congestion, Maintenance Needs, and Pollution 

Train transportation is four times more fuel efficient than trucks. North Dakota’s rails can prevent 7 million tons of emissions.

This is also equivalent to planting more than 100 million trees! 

North Dakota’s railroads can also lessen nearly 8 million trucks off the roads.

Therefore, this can reduce the amount of time and money spent on road repair and maintenance. 

#4: More Jobs and Better Lifestyles 

Railroad companies, especially Class Is, are huge. They require a lot of manpower.

Due to this, there are plenty of opportunities for railroad jobs in North Dakota.

 In 2017, the state had over 2,000 railroad employees. And nationwide, the industry supports over a million jobs. 

On top of this, the industry is also known to provide better salaries.

In turn, this can result in better and happier lifestyles for people in the state. 

Working For Railroad Jobs in North Dakota For Beginners: 2 Major Things To Expect

Is this your first time coming into the railroad industry? If so, these tips may come in handy.

When you look at railroading from the movies, it looks indeed fascinating. You see all the views and get to travel a lot. This is true to a certain extent. But, not everyone is cut out for this career. 

1. Big Lifestyle Changes

A class I railroad job can be mentally and physically taxing. These railroad companies are the biggest and operate 24/7. Therefore, most class I railroaders work longer hours, 12 hours at most.

This is also not a 9-5, Monday through Friday setup. You can work on weekends, and even holidays if you’re needed. You can also be called to another location.

So, be prepared for a significant lifestyle change. You might work further and longer times away from your home and family. 

2. Great Compensation and Career Trajectory

On a lighter note, Class I jobs have the best salaries in the business. And all of this comes with further perks and retirement plans.

So, all your hard work can be very worth it in the end. And after working for a few years, you can earn up to a six-digit salary. Click here to know which railroad jobs pay the most. 

You have access to years worth of experience and learning opportunities as well. Some railroad jobs also don’t require experience. Most Class I companies offer railroad training once you’re hired. 

Class II or III railroad jobs in North Dakota may offer you more flexible schedules. However, their salaries don’t add up to class I jobs. 

These are some of the “deal breakers” for new railroaders. Looking at the bigger picture is essential here.  At the end of the day, it’s really up to you. 

Now, let’s examine your options for railroad jobs in North Dakota. 

Class I Railroad Jobs in North Dakota

bnsf train on tracks

BNSF Railway

The Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway is a prominent freight railroad in North America.

They are among the seven Class I railroads with a total distance of 35,000 miles. In addition, they serve 28 states and have over 8,000 locomotives.

BNSF is also the biggest operational railway in North Dakota. 

In addition, the railroad has three transcontinental routes that connect the western and eastern areas of the United States.

And in 2010, BNSF traveled more miles compared to any other North American railroad. BNSF is also among the most prominent intermodal freight companies in North America.

The BNSF Railway Company is Burlington Northern Santa Fe, LLC’s principal operational subsidiary. In addition, its headquarters are located in Fort Worth, Texas.

Find out more information about them on their website. Click here.

Canadian Pacific Railway

canadian pacific train approaching crossing

The Canadian Pacific railways are among Canada’s earliest transcontinental networks. This Class I railroad was also not government-owned, unlike Canadian National. 

Canadian Pacific was first established in the year 1880. And today, their network totals 14,000 miles of track. Their routes stretch from all of the South of Canada. They also serve the midwest of the United States. 

The railway services about 10 intercity freight daily in Drake and Portal. On top of this, there are also 13 intercity trains operating through Veblen and Drake. 

Learn more about careers in Canadian Pacific by clicking here. 

Class II Regional Railroad Jobs in North Dakota

Dakota, Missouri Valley & Western Railroad

The DMVW commenced in the early parts of 1990. This class II regional mainly operates in Montana, along the old Soo Line Railroad tracks. They also lease more trackage from Class I network Canadian Pacific. 

Overall,  the DMVW operates 523 miles of trackage. Its routes span from Bismark (North area) to South Dakota in Aberdeen.

Learn more about them by clicking here. 

Northern Plains Railroad

The Northern Plains railroad commenced its services in January 1997. They ran on the famous “Wheat Lines” railroad track. 

Today, this class II regional runs tracks owned by Mohall Railroad. They also lease around 380 miles of track in Minessota from class I Canadian Pacific.

It also does interchanges with the company in the following areas: 

  • Kenmare
  • Thief River Falls
  • Ardoch

On top of this, they are headquartered in Fordville. And here, they run a yard facility. They also run another large facility at Landsford. 

Overall, this railroad runs a total of 400 miles of trackage. It’s also a relatively big regional, with over 40-50 employees. Statistics also show that they run 17,000 carloads yearly. 

Red River Valley & Western Railroad

This is an old railroad that started back in 1987. It also commenced at a time of major restructuring.

The RRVW mainly operates in both North Dakota and Minnesota. Back in 1980, it had over 640 miles of trackage from BNSF. 

And years after, they acquired some miles of track in South Dakota from the DMER. However, some of these lines were abandoned in 2001. 

Today, this regional railroad runs a total of 490 miles of trackage. Its routes span a wide range of areas including:


  • Breckenridge
  • Brushvale

North Dakota 

  • Wahpeton
  • Oakes
  • Casselton
  • Caffee Junction
  • Chafee
  • Jamestown
  • Horace
  • Independence
  • La Moure
  • Edgeley
  • Jamestown
  • Maddock
  • Pingree
  • Woodworth

And finally, this railroad has affiliations with Minnesota Prairie Line. Also Twin Cities and Western Railroad. 

Class III Shortline, Terminal, and Switching Railroad Jobs in North Dakota

Dakota Northern Railroad

The Dakota Northern is a relatively new shortline. They began their operations in the middle of the year 2006. And all in all, they total 72 miles of track.

This shortline services the northeastern region of North Dakota. They also primarily haul coal, grain, ethanol, and fertilizer.

And finally, they do interchanges with class I BNSF at Grafton. 

Otter Tail Valley Railroad

This is a Genesee & Wyoming Inc-owned shortline. In total, they operate 64 miles of trackage at Moorhead. And their route spans all the way to Fergus Falls in Minnesota. 

Check out the Genesee & Wyoming website for more information on this shortline. Click here. 

Passenger Railroad Jobs in North Dakota 


amtrak logo on flag

You’ve probably heard (or even taken a trip on) of Amtrak. They’re the biggest passenger railroad service in the United States! 

In terms of Amtrak and North Dakota, they only have seven stations in the state. And all of which are within the Empire Builder route. This route travels along Chicago, Portland, and Seattle.

Click here to know more about careers at Amtrak. 

Start Your Railroading Journey With These Railroad Jobs in North Dakota!

That settles it. Ultimately, there is a good deal of railroad jobs in North Dakota. You have a wealth of options just inside the two class I networks. You’ve also got a big chance at Amtrak.

And finally, there are three regionals and two shortlines at your disposal. 

Get in touch with any of these companies if you’re interested. 

That concludes our post on our railroad jobs in North Dakota. We hope you find success in your job search! 

Want more options on where to apply for railroad jobs? Click here.