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Conductors can work on two types of trains: passenger or freight. Freight trains carry all kinds of cargo. Conductors who work on them have to keep track of the cargo. They have to know where the cargo is being dropped off and where the train has to pick up more.

Passenger conductors work on trains that carry people. Their job is to take tickets, hand out schedules, help passengers, and announce train stops. On some passenger trains, there are assistant conductors who help collect tickets and help passengers with their baggage.

Being a freight conductor is hard work. Since freight conductors spend a lot of their time outside, they must be able to handle different weather and climate conditions. It may be sizzling hot outside but icy cold inside the cars. Freight conductors sometimes help to hook and unhook the cargo cars, and climbing on and off the cars can sometimes be dangerous. Freight trains do not run on regular schedules. Freight conductors often get called to work on short notice. Because freight trains travel long distances, freight conductors might be away from home for many nights in a row.

Passenger trains have a more regular schedule, so passenger conductors usually know when they will be scheduled to work. But like freight conductors, passenger conductors often have to work nights, weekends, and holidays.

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