Dispatcher Class

Eastern Lackawanna County 
Agricultural and Technical University 
Division of continuing education 
School of Railroad Crafts Technology
Dispatcher Training Certificate Program 

Dispatcher Responsibilities

The train dispatcher supervises the movement of trains and provides protection to employees occupying the track. This is accomplished by using various types of signaling equipment, and radios to communicate with trains and employees maintaining the track. The dispatcher makes decisions based on schedules designed to meet customers’ needs as well as insanely stupid orders issued by his superiors.

A dispatching office is staffed 24 hours a day throughout the year which means the dispatcher as well as all other operating department employees work holidays and will probably miss all their children's birthdays, school plays, little league games, wedding anniversaries, and all other events which parents want and should attend. The train dispatcher works a variety of territories gathering information from many different sources some of which are highly suspect. He may be required to qualify and control trains and on track equipment over territory he or she has never seen since some railroads feel it is okay to qualify by viewing a video tape of the territory over which the dispatcher must control many trains at one time. . .safely. Based on this information the dispatcher makes decisions about how to move trains to their destinations in the most efficient, but not necessarily safest, manner. A dispatcher, who is assigned a certain territory, keeps track of all trains and equipment occupying the track within that territory giving them authority to move from one point to another. The train dispatcher coordinates these movements by making plans for trains to meet or pass in a manner consistent with railroad rules of operation unless such decisions cause delays in which case the dispatcher may be pressured to move the trains at any cost..

While the dispatcher's main responsible is moving trains expeditiously and protecting employees working on the track, he has additional responsibilities including train crew management and equipment utilization for the most efficient operation.

Eligibility Requirements for Application to the Dispatcher's Training Program:

1. Applicants must be 18 years of age or over.

2. Applicants must have earned a high school degree (or G.E.D. equivalency) and 30 semester hours of college level credits.

3. Applicants must be willing to relocate.

4. Applicants must be willing and able to complete courses consecutively and without interruption.

5. Applicants must be willing and able to participate in seven weeks of on-site field observation in several geographical locations. Transportation to and from the training site will be the student’s responsibility.

6. Applicants must have computer applications and keyboard experience.

Some criteria may be waived if certain other requirements are fulfilled (see below).

Selection Process:

 Complete the Dispatcher Training Program Application for Admission and the Program Checklist. The Application for Admission and the Program Checklist must be received in the School of Railroad Crafts Technology Office by the deadlines shown on the Application Deadline and Tentative Training Dates list to be guaranteed consideration for this particular program. The Dispatcher Training Program is a selective admission program. All applicants meeting the minimum requirements will be further ranked based on additional college hours completed and other related training, work experience, contributions to the alumni fund, and kickbacks to the admissions office staff. Applicants meeting only the minimum requirements may not be invited to move on to the next step in the admissions process.

2. Submit the work and educational history form or a current resume showing the same information detailing your work and educational history to the ELCA&TU School of Railroad Crafts Technology Office by the application deadline date.

3. Have official copies of your high school and college transcripts (other than ELCA&TU), along with a certified check for a large amount of money, sent to the ELCA&TU, Division of Continuing Education, School of Railroad Crafts Technology, Dispatcher Training Program, by the application deadline. [If you have attended ELCA&TC, a copy of your transcript will automatically be included in your file]. High school transcripts are not required if you have completed an associate's degree or higher degree.

4. Take the Train Dispatcher Aptitude Test (TDAT). The TDAT, an eight-hour test, scheduled for the dates at ELCA&TU shown on the Application Deadline and Training Dates List. [If you have previously failed the TDAT, you obviously did not send a check in the approved amount to the Railroad Crafts Technology Division staff and must wait three months before retesting.]

5. Complete an interview with professionals from the Lackawanna Terminal Railway Dispatch Center and ELCA&TC faculty and admissions personnel. Interviews are tentatively scheduled for the dates shown on the Application Deadline and Training Dates List. Interview questions will relate to your knowledge of the duties of a dispatcher, your work and educational history, and your ability to communicate and work with others. Your Dun and Bradstreet rating should already be in our office before you schedule your interview.

6. Take a physical examination including drug screening and colorblindness tests. Only finalists will be requested to take the physical examination. Unless added funds are deposited in the Admissions Office's Unnumbered Swiss Bank Account (AOUSBA), failure to pass the physical examination, including drug screening and/or colorblindness tests, will result in elimination from consideration.

Final Selection

Final selection will be based on results of the TDAT, the interview, the physical examination, and the total amount of contributions distributed. Each applicant will be evaluated relative to test scores, interview, and monetary contribution. Selection will be made by ELCA&TU and applicants will receive final notification by certified mail of acceptance into the program or the tentative acceptance to the program pending the arrival of additional funds. If there are more qualified applicants than positions available, applicants will be placed on a waiting list and if openings in the program exist prior to the beginning of classes, applicants will be notified in the order of their ranking as determined by the total monetary contribution the AOUSBA .

Financial Aid

The Dispatcher Training Program is a component of the Associate of Science Degree in Railroad Management. You may be eligible to apply for Federal financial aid, veterans education benefits, other scholarships or low interest loans to help pay a part of the cost of tuition and fees. Active duty military personnel may be eligible to apply for military tuition assistance if they are able to complete the program while on terminal leave. Application and approval for financial aid often will take up to three months. Financial aid forms should be submitted well ahead of the start date of the program. Call (717) 555-3978 or 3917 if you have questions about applying for financial aid. The Railroad Conductor Training Program is no longer eligible for Title IV funding.

Monetary considerations paid to ELCA&TU employees to enhance the chances for acceptance to any School of Railroad Crafts Technology program are not tax deductible under any IRS code.

Please check the
 financial section of the Railroad School Home Page for further information concerning financial aid for students. 


TITLE: Introduction to Railroad Dispatching
Location: ELCA&TC

WEEK  2-6
Course #: RTD172
Location: FIELD

Weeks: 7-9
Course #: RTD 271
Location: ELCA&TU
Credit Hours: 6

Weeks: 10-14
Course #: RTD 272
Location: Lackawanna Terminal Railway Dispatcher Center, Scranton, Pa.
Credit hours: 6

Weeks: 15-24
Course #: RTD 276
Location: Lackawanna Terminal Railway Dispatch Center, Scranton, Pa.
Credit hours: 5

TOTAL Credit hours: 22

If you fail to successfully complete any of the prerequisites for the courses, you will not be allowed to continue in the program. If you have successfully completed RTD 171, RTD 172, RTD 271, and RTD 272, you will have the opportunity to apply for employment with a railroad. Eligibility for railroad employment is subject to passing the drug screening, background checks, and other railroad industry employment requirements. Once you are employed by a railroad, you are eligible to enroll in RTD 276.

Where Do I Get More Information?

For more information on Dispatching as a career or the Dispatcher's Training Program in particular please contact:

Gabrielle Botchalewsky
Human Resources Director 
Lackawanna Terminal Railway 
1 Lackawanna Plaza 
Scranton, Pennsylvania 18503 
Tel: (717) 555-6537

Office of the Dean of Admissions
Eastern Lackawanna County Agricultural and Technical University 
Scranton, Pennsylvania 18503 
Tel: (717) 555-7400, ex. 565


the railroad of your choice.

© Steven Kay 2013