Also called: Locomotive Engineer, Passenger Locomotive Engineer, Railroad Engineer, Transportation Specialist
Produced by CareerOneStop
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Commuter trains gliding between stations… freight trains chugging across the heartland…. Every kind of train needs a steady, experienced locomotive engineer at the controls, and railroad conductors and yardmasters to keep track of passengers and cargo. Locomotive engineers drive freight or passenger trains between stations. They alter their methods and speed based on the type of freight they carry, weather conditions, and the quality of the rails themselves. These engineers monitor speed, air pressure, battery use, and other instruments to ensure that the locomotive runs smoothly. Keeping in contact with dispatchers over the radio helps them stay informed of delays and schedule changes. Railroad conductors help travelers onto the train, take tickets, make announcements, and stand by while the train is in the station. It’s their job to make sure people are safely aboard before signaling to the engineer to proceed. Conductors also coordinate the activities of the train’s crew, and on freight trains, if a yardmaster is not available, they oversee loading and unloading of cargo. Yardmasters stay at the station to oversee the activities of workers in the rail yard; moving cars for the right configuration of a train, loading freight, and making sure all equipment is safe. Especially before they gain seniority, these railroad workers work nights, weekends, and holidays. Most jobs require a high school diploma, along with several months of simulations and on-the-job training to get “on track” for a career on the rails.
What they do:Drive electric, diesel-electric, steam, or gas-turbine-electric locomotives to transport passengers or freight. Interpret train orders, electronic or manual signals, and railroad rules and regulations.
On the job, you would:
- Interpret train orders, signals, or railroad rules and regulations that govern the operation of locomotives.
- Confer with conductors or traffic control center personnel via radiophones to issue or receive information concerning stops, delays, or oncoming trains.
- Receive starting signals from conductors and use controls such as throttles or air brakes to drive electric, diesel-electric, steam, or gas turbine-electric locomotives.
Safety and Government
Arts and Humanities
Education and Training
People interested in this work like activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions.
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See more details at O*NET OnLine about locomotive engineers.