Rail Yard Engineers, Dinkey Operators, & Hostlers
Also called: Engineer, Railcar Switcher, Railroad Engineer, Switchman
Produced by CareerOneStop
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A variety of railroad workers help ensure that passenger and freight trains are in the right place at the right time, operating safely. Rail yard engineers —also called hostlers— move locomotives between tracks to keep the trains organized and on schedule. They drive locomotives to and from maintenance shops or prepare them for the locomotive engineer. Some operate small locomotives called dinkeys. Other railroad workers focus on train safety. Brake operators help couple and uncouple train cars. Signal operators install and maintain the communication signals along tracks and in the rail yard. Switch operators control the track switches in rail yards to ensure trains move safely between tracks. Locomotive firers monitor train instruments and watch out for hazards on the track. Most rail employees work full time. Since trains operate 24/7, many railroad workers work nights, weekends, and holidays. Rail companies typically require a high school diploma or equivalent, and provide on-the-job training lasting from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the employer and the complexity of the job. Rail yard engineers, and switch or signal operators may advance to become conductors or yardmasters.
What they do:Drive switching or other locomotive or dinkey engines within railroad yard, industrial plant, quarry, construction project, or similar location.
On the job, you would:
- Observe and respond to wayside and cab signals, including color light signals, position signals, torpedoes, flags, and hot box detectors.
- Inspect engines before and after use to ensure proper operation.
- Apply and release hand brakes.
- movement of people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road
Safety and Government
- public safety and security
- customer service
Engineering and Technology
- keeping track of how well people and/or groups are doing in order to make improvements
- talking to others
- noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it
- quickly change the controls of a machine, car, truck or boat
- quickly decide if you should move your hand, foot, or other body part
- listen and understand what people say
- communicate by speaking
Hand and Finger Use
- hold or move items with your hands
- keep your arm or hand steady
- pay attention to something without being distracted
People interested in this work like activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions.
They do well at jobs that need:
- Attention to Detail
- Concern for Others
- Self Control
You might use software like this on the job:
Inventory management software
- Railyard inventory software
- Softrail AEI Rail & Road Manager
Industrial control software
- RailComm DocYard
- Softrail AEI Automatic Yard Tracking System
Expert system software
- Positive train control PTC systems
- Bus & Truck Mechanics & Diesel Engine Specialists
- Locomotive Engineers
- Operating Engineers & Other Construction Equipment Operators
- Railroad Brake, Signal, & Switch Operators & Locomotive Firers
- Railroad Conductors & Yardmasters
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