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Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operators and Locomotive Firers

Operate or monitor railroad track switches or locomotive instruments. May couple or uncouple rolling stock to make up or break up trains. Watch for and relay traffic signals. May inspect couplings, air hoses, journal boxes, and hand brakes. May watch for dragging equipment or obstacles on rights-of-way.

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    Work Activities

    Work Activities

    • Observe train signals along routes and verify their meanings for engineers.
    • Signal locomotive engineers to start or stop trains when coupling or uncoupling cars, using hand signals, lanterns, or radio communication.
    • Operate and drive locomotives, diesel switch engines, dinkey engines, flatcars, and railcars in train yards and at industrial sites.
    • Pull or push track switches to reroute cars.
    • Observe signals from other crew members so that work activities can be coordinated.
    • Monitor trains as they go around curves to detect dragging equipment and smoking journal boxes.
    • Inspect couplings, air hoses, journal boxes, and handbrakes to ensure that they are securely fastened and functioning properly.
    • Observe tracks from left sides of locomotives to detect obstructions on tracks.
    • Operate locomotives in emergency situations.
    • Raise levers to couple and uncouple cars for makeup and breakup of trains.
    • Climb ladders to tops of cars to set brakes.
    • Receive oral or written instructions from yardmasters or yard conductors indicating track assignments and cars to be switched.
    • Inspect locomotives to detect damaged or worn parts.
    • Signal other workers to set brakes and to throw track switches when switching cars from trains to way stations.
    • Check to see that trains are equipped with supplies such as fuel, water, and sand.
    • Refuel and lubricate engines.
    • Monitor oil, temperature, and pressure gauges on dashboards to determine if engines are operating safely and efficiently.
    • Set flares, flags, lanterns, or torpedoes in front and at rear of trains during emergency stops to warn oncoming trains.
    • Inspect tracks, cars, and engines for defects and to determine service needs, sending engines and cars for repairs as necessary.
    • Ride atop cars that have been shunted, and turn handwheels to control speeds or stop cars at specified positions.
    • Adjust controls to regulate air-conditioning, heating, and lighting on trains for comfort of passengers.
    • Record numbers of cars available, numbers of cars sent to repair stations, and types of service needed.
    • Provide passengers with assistance entering and exiting trains.
    • Start diesel engines to warm engines before runs.
    • Make minor repairs to couplings, air hoses, and journal boxes, using hand tools.
    • Connect air hoses to cars, using wrenches.
    • Answer questions from passengers concerning train rules, stations, and timetable information.

    Skills

    • Operations Monitoring

      Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.

    • Monitoring

      Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

    • Operation and Control

      Controlling operations of equipment or systems.

    WorkKeys®

    Applied Math
    N/A
    Workplace Documents
    N/A
    Graphic Literacy
    N/A

    Abilities

    • Far Vision

      The ability to see details at a distance.

    • Problem Sensitivity

      The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.

    • Near Vision

      The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).

    Knowledge

    • Transportation

      Knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and benefits.

    • Public Safety and Security

      Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.

    • Mechanical

      Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.

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    Pay

    • Ohio Annual Salary 48410/yr
    • Typical Salary
    • Ohio Hourly Wage 23.27/hr
    • Typical Hourly Wage

    Ohio Employment Trends

    • Currently Employed Not Available
    • Yearly Projected Openings Not Available

    Typical Education

    Personality

    Realistic: People interested in this work like activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They do well at jobs that need:
    • Dependability
    • Attention to Detail
    • Stress Tolerance
    • Self Control
    • Adaptability/Flexibility
    • Independence

    Tools

    • Train braking systems
    • Rail switching systems
    • Heavy rail turnout switch
    • Electric freight locomotives
    • Diesel freight locomotives

    Technology

    • Time accounting software
    • Route navigation software
    • Expert system software
    • Data base user interface and query software

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