Career summary

Details for Rail-Track Laying and Maintenance Equipment Operators


Description

Lay, repair, and maintain track for standard or narrow-gauge railroad equipment used in regular railroad service or in plant yards, quarries, sand and gravel pits, and mines. Includes ballast cleaning machine operators and road bed tamping machine operators.

Tasks

  • Patrol assigned track sections so that damaged or broken track can be located and reported.
  • Repair or adjust track switches, using wrenches and replacement parts.
  • Weld sections of track together, such as switch points and frogs.
  • Observe leveling indicator arms to verify levelness and alignment of tracks.
  • Operate single- or multiple-head spike driving machines to drive spikes into ties and secure rails.
  • Operate track-wrench machines to tighten or loosen bolts at joints that hold ends of rails together.
  • Cut rails to specified lengths, using rail saws.
  • Lubricate machines, change oil, or fill hydraulic reservoirs to specified levels.
  • Drill holes through rails, tie plates, or fishplates for insertion of bolts or spikes, using power drills.
  • Clean tracks or clear ice or snow from tracks or switch boxes.
  • Clean, grade, or level ballast on railroad tracks.
  • Raise rails, using hydraulic jacks, to allow for tie removal and replacement.
  • Adjust controls of machines that spread, shape, raise, level, or align track, according to specifications.
  • Dress and reshape worn or damaged railroad switch points or frogs, using portable power grinders.
  • Clean or make minor repairs to machines or equipment.
  • Grind ends of new or worn rails to attain smooth joints, using portable grinders.
  • Operate single- or multiple-head spike pullers to pull old spikes from ties.
  • String and attach wire-guidelines machine to rails so that tracks or rails can be aligned or leveled.
  • Engage mechanisms that lay tracks or rails to specified gauges.
  • Drive graders, tamping machines, brooms, or ballast spreading machines to redistribute gravel or ballast between rails.
  • Drive vehicles that automatically move and lay tracks or rails over sections of track to be constructed, repaired, or maintained.
  • Turn wheels of machines, using lever controls, to adjust guidelines for track alignments or grades, following specifications.
  • Push controls to close grasping devices on track or rail sections so that they can be raised or moved.
  • Operate tie-adzing machines to cut ties and permit insertion of fishplates that hold rails.
  • Paint railroad signs, such as speed limits or gate-crossing warnings.
  • Spray ties, fishplates, or joints with oil to protect them from weathering.

Interests

  • Realistic - Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Education, training, experience

  • Education - These occupations usually require a high school diploma.
  • Training - Employees in these occupations need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.
  • Experience - Some previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is usually needed. For example, a teller would benefit from experience working directly with the public.

Knowledge

  • Mechanical - Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
  • Building and Construction - Knowledge of materials, methods, and the tools involved in the construction or repair of houses, buildings, or other structures such as highways and roads.

Skills

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