Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operators

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About the Job

Operate railroad track switches. Couple or uncouple rolling stock to make up or break up trains. Signal engineers by hand or flagging. May inspect couplings, air hoses, journal boxes, and hand brakes.

It is also Called

  • Yard Switch Operator
  • Yard Person
  • Yard Coupler
  • Yard Brakeman
  • Tub Rider
  • Trip Rider
  • Transportation Specialist
  • Trains Service Conductor
  • Trainman
  • Train Crew Member
View All

What They Do

  • Answer questions from passengers concerning train rules, stations, and timetable information.
  • Provide passengers with assistance entering and exiting trains.
  • Record numbers of cars available, numbers of cars sent to repair stations, and types of service needed.
  • Adjust controls to regulate air-conditioning, heating, and lighting on trains for comfort of passengers.
  • Ride atop cars that have been shunted, and turn handwheels to control speeds or stop cars at specified positions.
  • Monitor oil, air, and steam pressure gauges, and make sure water levels are adequate.
  • Watch for and relay traffic signals to start and stop cars during shunting.
  • Refuel and lubricate engines.
  • Operate and drive locomotives, diesel switch engines, dinkey engines, flatcars, and railcars in train yards and at industrial sites.
  • Connect air hoses to cars, using wrenches.

Interests

People who work in this occupation generally have the interest code: RC.

This means people who work in this occupation generally have Realistic interests, but also prefer Conventional environments.

Work Values

People who work in this occupation generally prize Support, but also value Relationships and Working Conditions in their jobs.

Things They Need to Know

  • Transportation - Knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and benefits.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • 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.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.

Things They Need to Be Able to Do

  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Operation Monitoring - Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Operation and Control - Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Education Required

These occupations usually require a high school diploma.

Wages

In 2017, the average annual wage in Pennsylvania was $57,950 with most people making between $39,920 and $84,200

Outlook

0.17%
avg. annual growth

During 2014, this occupation employed approximately 1,150 people in Pennsylvania. It is projected that there will be 1,170 employed in 2024.

This occupation will have about 2 openings due to growth and about 48 replacement openings for approximately 50 total annual openings.



Pennsylvania Department of Education