Railroad Jobs in Oregon – Ultimate Guide

Many agree that Oregon’s abundance of breathtaking vistas is what sets it apart. It’s home to the Columbia River, the Cascades, and the beautiful Pacific Coast. You might be wondering, are there railroad jobs in Oregon? Yes, there are. However, it’s limited compared to other states. Oregon has only two major class I networks.

Train line in Oregon.

Class I networks in the state include, Union Pacific, which dominates most of the state’s rails, and BSNF. These are your best bets if you’re looking for railroad jobs in Oregon. 

On top of that, Oregon has two class II regionals. These are the Portland & Western and Central Oregon & Pacific. And finally, the state houses plenty of class II shortlines.

All in all, the state houses approximately 2,000 miles of trackage. You have much room to work within the state. However, expect a tight and competitive job market. 

Nevertheless, we’re here to help you out! Job hunting can be pretty challenging and overwhelming these days.

So, we’ve compiled all the information you need in one post. Today, we outline all the companies you can work for in Oregon.

Prior to that, we shortly tackle Oregon’s railroad history and economic advantage. And finally, we add in some tips for fresh perspective railroaders. 

But, know that we’re only here to aid you with your search. Companies have their own hiring strategies and policies.

So, we can’t answer meticulous inquiries. If you have any, it’s best to reach out to the company itself. Without further ado, let’s get started! 

railroad jobs in oregon

History and Facts of Railroads in Oregon 

During the Industrial Revolution, railways were strong centralizing and distributing outlets.  It mostly influenced metropolitan populations.

However, it also impacted individuals and towns all around the state of Oregon. In addition, railroads were a symbol of foreign investment.

Mineral rights and forestry were purchased by investors from other countries. Moreover, new train lines were built.

Railways also made raw commodities more available to investors. This is, perhaps, their most crucial benefit.

Back then, railways did not immediately and directly assist the state economically. However, their potential sparked corporate activity.

It enthused the minds of entrepreneurs, visionaries, and marketers.

The state’s first rail commenced in the 1860s. This was the Oregon Portage Railroad which had only 5 miles of trackage.

There was also the Oregon Pony, the state, and the Pacific Northwest’s first steam locomotive. From here, railroads sprung up, but it wasn’t much compared to other states. 

There have never been many railways in Oregon. At the state’s pinnacle, it only housed 3,300 miles of trackage. And during the era of abandoned railways, it only lost around 20%.

But, the state has a few railroad milestones. For instance, they had the Oregon Electric System. This interurban system connected Eugene and Portland to each other.

Moreover, the state also houses the renowned Southern Pacific. 

Fast forward to today, Oregon’s rails play a decent part in the state’s economy. 

The Economic Impact of Oregon’s Rails

Rail transportation in Oregon contributes to the $195 billion economy of the state. Between 2000 and 2011, Oregon’s GDP rose by 54%. This is three times faster than the 17% growth in the US1 GDP.

Since 2000, Oregon has overtaken Alabama, South Carolina, and Kentucky in terms of economic size. It is also presently the county’s 25th biggest economy.

This rise in numbers mostly owes to the activities in the Portland area. And in 2017, Class Is generated an economic total of 220 billion. It also created 26 billion in tax revenues.  

Historically, Oregon’s economic success has been linked to the use of rail to move grain and lumber.

The state’s businesses are still reliant on the rail to access local and global markets to this day. Apart from this, Oregon’s rails also cut shipping costs by:

  • Cutting travel times
  • Moving more tons of freight
  • Boosts reliability of shipments

Moreover, the sector helps support employment. There were 5,397 freight rail employees in Oregon in 2017. 

empty train tracks

Working For The Railroad in Oregon: Things To Consider 

Are you a newcomer to the railroad sector?

If so, it’s important to know what to expect. The reality is, that not everyone is cut out for the railroading life.

You’ve probably heard all about its great benefits and wages. While these are true, there’s a challenging aspect to it that doesn’t suit everyone.

Train work may be exhausting in both a physical and emotional sense. A huge part of this is because of its long hours.

Class I jobs often require 12-hour shifts. And sometimes, you might even need to work on-call during weekends or holidays.

Additionally, the company can transfer you to another post or location, if needed. In other words, railroading will change your whole lifestyle.

You’ll likely spend a lot of time away from your family as a result. 

This is already challenging on its own. But, the damp, rainy, and cold winters of Oregon will make things tougher. 

However, Class I positions are among the highest-paying in the business. So, if you look at the big picture, it’s well worth the sacrifice.

Some even earn 6 digits after a few years of hard work. 

Shortlines and regionals provide regular and scheduled scheduling. So, if you’re not keen on working long hours, you can aim for these lines.

However, their wages are not comparable to those of Class Is. 

Consider internships while you’re still in school. Typically, Class Is conducts summer training programs for aspiring railroad workers.

This is a great method to obtain hands-on experience in the business. As a bonus, you’ll get to see what sort of employment on the train works best for you.

These are usually the dealbreakers for most railroaders. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide where and who to work for. 

lake in oregon

Class I Railroad Jobs in Oregon 

BNSF Railway

The Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railroad is its entire name. Like many Class I railroads, BNSF’s current network was built through acquisitions.

It all began in 1970, over four decades ago. Since the railroad’s humble origins, it has developed into one of the world’s best-known and most recognized transportation corporations. 

Overall, the company has a staggering total of 32 miles of trackage. It covers 28 states in the country. In addition, the corporation has a fleet of about 6,000 locomotives.

Learn more about BNSF railroad jobs in Oregon by clicking here. 

Union Pacific

The Union Pacific is one of the oldest Class I networks in the country. It has also been running in Oregon for more than a hundred years.

The company also takes over most of the state’s mileage. It hauls a wide range of goods throughout the state.

This includes lumber, Hood River Valley Pears, plant nursery goods, and more.  Moreover, the Union Pacific also has close ties with Oregon Christmas tree farms. 

All in all, Union Pacific holds 32,100 miles of track. It services 23 western states in the country.

Learn more about jobs at Union Pacific by clicking here. 

Class II Regional Railroad Jobs in Oregon 

Central Oregon & Pacific Railroad

The Central Oregon and Pacific Railroad (CORP) commenced in 1996. Presently, it is part of  Genesee & Wyoming’s fleet of subsidiaries.

This regional railroad operates 400 miles of trackage. On average, it carries about 17,000 cars yearly. Most of its freight consists of lumber, plywood, and logs.

Moreover, its routes travel to Northern Carolina and Oregon. Learn more about the company and its railroad jobs through the G&W website. Click here. 

Portland & Western Railroad

This is the other regional railroad in Oregon, also owned by Genesee & Wyoming. It also has a subsidiary known as the Willamette and Pacific Railroad.

This regional railroad is completely situated in Oregon. Its routes stretch to Astoria, and through the Columbia River. It also passes the Northern Oregon Coast Range.

All in all, it runs a total of 466 miles of trackage. Learn more about the PNWR job opportunities by clicking here. 

downtown portland oregon skyline

Class III Shortline, Terminal, and Switching Railroad Jobs in Oregon 

Albany & Eastern Railroad

This shortline is situated in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. The Albany and Eastern Railroad is a result of BSNF’s Sweet Home Branch Line.

The railroad operates 64 miles of trackage with two Lebanon branch lines. One traveling to Sweet Home, and the other to Mill City.

At the end of its main line, it connects with the two Class I networks. Learn more about them and their railroad jobs by clicking here. 

City of Prineville Railway

This shortline railroad was born in the 1800s. Today, it runs a total of 18 miles of trackage along Prineville and Redmond.

Learn more about them by clicking here. 

Coos Bay Rail Link

The Coos Bay Rail dates back to 2011. During this time, it took over Southern Pacific’s nearly abandoned Coos branch in Coquille.

Today, it is a Port of Coos Bay-owned shortline. All in all, this shortline operates 134 miles of trackage. It also links the North American networks with manufacturing facilities.

Check out their website for their railroad jobs. Click here. 

Idaho Northern & Pacific Railroad

This shortline has a route of 200 miles of trackage. They also own and control 120 former branch lines from Class I Union Pacific. And currently, the shortline is owned by the  Rio Grande Pacific Corp. 

Klamath Northern Railway

This very shortline has been operating since the 1940s. Overall, it totals only 11 miles of trackage. Its routes span from only Gilchrist and Gilchrist Junction.

In these lines, it also connects to the Cascade Subdivision.

Find their contact information by clicking here. 

Lake Railway

A lot of railroad enthusiasts know them by the Lake County. The Lake Railway operates 55 miles of trackage.

Additionally, they mostly haul timber through California and Oregon. The shortline is also owned by Frontier Rail. 

Mt. Hood Railroad

Mount Hood is both a freight and heritage railroad. Its freight operation does interchanges with Class I Union Pacific. For their excursion trains, they take passengers through the sceneries of the Columbia River.

Overall, the shortlines run 60 miles of trackage. Learn more about them by clicking here. 

Oregon Pacific Railroad

This shortline has been in operation since 1991. Their lines took over the previous properties of the Portland Traction Company.

They run two disconnected lines. One travels to the southeast portion of Portland. The latter travels through Southern Pacific’s historic  Molalla Branch.

Learn more about the company through its website. Click here. 

train tracks on stone path in orgeon

Palouse River & Coulee City Railroad

This is a Watco-owned shortline. In total, it has 200 miles of disconnected trackage. One of their routes travels to Northeastern Oregon. The other route runs through Washington’s southeastern portion.

And finally, the last line travels to Western Idaho. You can find more employment information through Watco’s website. Click here. 

Peninsula Terminal Co.

This is a terminal shortline railroad. Its been around for years and has only served North Portland. It also has a very short line of only 2 miles of trackage.

Learn more about them by clicking here. 

Wallowa Union Railroad Authority

This shortline is owned and operated by three entities. This includes Union County, the State of Oregon, and the Wallowa Country.

It also operates both tourist and freight operations. Overall, the shortline runs 62 miles of track in total. 

Start Your Railroading Career With These Railroad Jobs in Oregon! 

There are a few limited options for railroad jobs in Oregon. Compared to other locations, Oregon’s miles of trackage are relatively less.

However, the state is still home to two of the largest class I networks. Union Pacific also holds a sizable chunk of its rails.

Therefore, it’s a good advantage. Plus, you have two regionals and so many shortlines to work with. 

Anticipate some difficulties in your job search. Things may be pretty challenging due to limited options.

There will also be times when companies take a long time to respond. But, don’t let this discourage you.

In the end, you’ll find a railroad job that’s perfect for you. Once you do get a job, you’ve only just begun, you’ll continue learning, improving, and earning. 

Are you still considering other options? We can help you with that, too! We have a state-by-state list of railroad jobs.

Click here to check it out. And if you want to learn more about the railroading business, check out our articles.

That’s all there is to it for railroad jobs in Oregon.

We wish you all the best in your job hunt!