PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Norfolk Southern is hiring — in a big way.

“We have a large number of retirements coming up,” Dave Pidgeon, a spokesman for Norfolk Southern, said. “Across the industry, about 30 percent of our workforce – that’s about 67,000 people are going to need to be replaced because of retirements. That’s between now and five years from now.”

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These are good paying jobs with a starting salary of at least $40,000, but you better be ready to work outside and do some heavy lifting too.

“A conductor is going to be outside in wind and rain and blizzards in all manner of weather and all manner of time, so if you have some outdoor work experience like on a farm, that’s a big plus for you,” Pidgeon said.

“Also you are going to be lifting these big knuckles to put these trains together and they are about 80 pounds so there’s some lifting involved.”

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Norfolk Southern projects it will hire 2,600 new employees by the end of 2012. There has been an increase in freight rail and a large number of railroad employees will be retiring.

“My dad worked for the railroad. He worked for Penn Central and my brother worked for the B&O Railroad,” Tim Bradburn, an applicant, said.

“I currently have an antique shop down in Charleroi and the guy behind me, the train tracks are right behind the building. He’s an engineer for Norfolk Southern. I talked to him. He comes into my shop all the time and he started turning me on to the railroad life,” he continued.

More than 100 people applied for about two dozen jobs. The conductor trainees will report to the Shire Oaks terminal in Washington County and must live within 90 minutes of the rail yard, knowing that when the phone rings, they are out the door and headed down the tracks.

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