Physical Abilities Test

If your job offer requires a Physical Abilities Test, in your Employment Hub under the Pre-Employment Status section, you will see this status:

Physical Ability Test - Call to Schedule Appointment (example pictured below).

Before calling BTE, you must first complete the Medical Questionnaire that is part of your online registration. Only upon completion of the questionnaire will your information be sent to BTE. You must then call BTE within 48 hours to schedule your appointment. BTE can be reached toll-free at 800-206-2972. Office hours are Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 6:30 p.m. CST.

This information will briefly describe the components included within the PAT. Each test section is pictured and referenced to the job task equivalent. This is not intended as an instructional or safety manual and should in no way be interpreted as such. The test administrator will go through the instructions with you in detail at the time of the test.

Prior to beginning the testing, you will be asked to fill out a short medical history questionnaire and sign a consent form. The clinician will then take your blood pressure and your resting heart rate. Your heart rate will be monitored on a real-time basis throughout the entire test.

Preparation Reminders

Here are some important points to remember in preparation for the testing and during testing:

  • Bring a valid picture ID.
  • Do not take over the counter cold medications and avoid beverages containing caffeine such as energy drinks, coffee, tea, or soda pop for at least 4 hours prior to your test time. Caffeine and over the counter cold medications can raise your heart rate and/or blood pressure.
  • Do not  smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol for several hours before the test.
  • Do  maintain a regular eating schedule on the day of the test.
  • Do  take any regularly prescribed medication on the day of the test.
  • Do  wear comfortable clothing that allows good range of motion. You will be doing various tasks that include lifting, pushing, pulling etc.
  • Do  wear closed-toe shoes with good traction.
  • Do  ask questions: The test administrator will give you a full explanation and demonstration of how to perform each task. You are encouraged to ask questions if you need clarification or do not understand the test instructions.
  • Do  breathe normally during each task. DO NOT hold your breath.


Please review the following pictures and descriptions. This information is provided as a brief guide to introduce the test components.

Lumbar Range of Motion

The PAT starts and ends with a lumbar range of motion measurement. This is used as a flexibility benchmark before and after the test and is not a pass/fail component of the test.

The applicant is asked to bend forward, backward and to each side while this measurement is taken.


Hose Coupling Strength Test

Employees are required to attach and detach the hose coupling on the train’s air brake system. The hose coupling is shown here beneath the train car junction. Applicants must demonstrate the ability to apply enough force to couple/uncouple the hose coupling by squeezing a calibrated grip device, commonly known as a grip strength test.


Pin Lift Test – Upward Pull

Pins are pulled from train cars to release the car and make a car or group of cars available in building a new train. Train Service applicants must demonstrate the ability to apply enough upward force to pull the pin and release the car.


Auto Rack Brake

Train Service applicants must be able to perform specific job tasks on specialty train cars such as those carrying automobiles. Setting the brake on an auto rack is done with an upward push as shown here. Applicants must demonstrate the ability to apply enough force to set the auto rack brake by pushing up on the calibrated apparatus as shown in the picture.


High Stand Switch

Train Service applicants must be able to switch track junctions to redirect the direction of a train. This is done by pulling the track switch, or High Stand Switch. Applicants must demonstrate the ability to apply sufficient force to the switch (enough to redirect the track) by pulling in a horizontal direction on the calibrated device shown to the left.


Wheel Brake Test

Setting the wheel brake on a train car prevents the movement of cars on a track. The ability to apply enough force to set a wheel brake must be demonstrated. A calibrated device is used to simulate the body position required when performing this task and measures the amount of force applied. The force is applied in as an outward pull.


Car Ride Test

Train Service applicants must be able to safely hang on to a ladder on a moving or stationary train car. The applicant will be provided a safety vest with weight pouch, representing the Radio Control Unit that is worn on the job. The applicant must demonstrate the ability to perform this job function by "riding" the calibrated apparatus that replicates the ladder on a train car, as shown, for the specified time period.


Draw Bar Align Lift

Train Service applicants must demonstrate the ability to apply ample force to align a draw bar on the back or front of a train car. An upward lift force is measured as the applicant lifts on the calibrated apparatus as shown in these two pictures.



Dynamic Lift – Progressive Load

Train Service applicants must demonstrate the ability to lift and set a progressively loaded weight to the height of a train car.