What Do Locomotive Engineers Do (including Their Typical Day At Work)

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Job Description, Daily Responsibilities, and Work Life.

Job Description

Locomotive Engineers 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. They also interpret train orders, signals, or railroad rules and regulations that govern the operation of locomotives.

Other tasks include:

  • 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.
  • Monitor gauges or meters that measure speed, amperage, battery charge, or air pressure in brake lines or in main reservoirs.
  • Observe tracks to detect obstructions.
  • Call out train signals to assistants to verify meanings.
  • Operate locomotives to transport freight or passengers between stations or to assemble or disassemble trains within rail yards.

We asked Locomotive Engineers how satisfied they are with their job. Here is what they said.

Job satisfaction

61%

How meaningful is this job

47%


61% of them said they were satisfied with their job and 47% said they find that their job makes the world a better place or helps to make someone else’s life better.



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Typical Day At Work

On a daily basis, Locomotive Engineers monitor gauges or meters that measure speed, amperage, battery charge, or air pressure in brake lines or in main reservoirs. They inspect locomotives after runs to detect damaged or defective equipment.

A typical day for a Locomotive Engineer will also include:

  • Inspect locomotives to verify adequate fuel, sand, water, or other supplies before each run or to check for mechanical problems.
  • Check to ensure that documentation, such as procedure manuals or logbooks, are in the driver’s cab and available for staff use.
  • Observe tracks to detect obstructions.
  • Interpret train orders, signals, or railroad rules and regulations that govern the operation of locomotives.
  • 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.

We asked some Locomotive Engineers a few questions to find out what else does their work day look like. Here is what we found.

Do you have telephone conversations everyday in this job?67% said yes
How important is it to work in a team in this job?79% said very important
Do you have group discussions everyday in this job?93% said yes
Do you talk or work with customers everyday in this job?23% said yes
Do you have to deal with angry customers everyday in this job?10% said yes
Do you have to make decisions everyday in this job?76% said yes

Other responsibilities

Besides their typical day, Locomotive Engineers also respond to emergency conditions or breakdowns, following applicable safety procedures and rules. They may also drive diesel-electric rail-detector cars to transport rail-flaw-detecting machines over tracks.

On a weekly to monthly basis, Locomotive Engineers Prepare reports regarding any problems encountered, such as accidents, signaling problems, unscheduled stops, or delays. They might also Check to ensure that documentation, such as procedure manuals or logbooks, are in the driver’s cab and available for staff use.

In addition, they Call out train signals to assistants to verify meanings.

Although specific duties may vary, many of them Operate locomotives to transport freight or passengers between stations or to assemble or disassemble trains within rail yards.

To some Locomotive Engineers, it is also their responsibility to Inspect locomotives after runs to detect damaged or defective equipment.


Working life

Working hours

More than 40 hours per week

Working schedule

Irregular work schedule that changes depending on weather conditions, customer demand or contract duration.

In a typical work week as a Locomotive Engineer, you can expect to work more than 40 hours per week.

Do Locomotive Engineers work in an office-style work environment?

Never
87%


Every day
11%


Do Locomotive Engineers work outdoors?

Every day
79%


Never
7%



Is this right for me

Best personality for this career

The Builders and The Organizers

People who are suitable for this job tends to like work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They like working with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery..

They also like following set procedures and routines. They like working with data and details more than with ideas.

You can read more about these career personality types here.




Learn more about Locomotive Engineers

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Related to Locomotive Engineers Job Description

Locomotive Engineers job description, what do Locomotive Engineers do, typical day for Locomotive Engineers, what is it like to work as a Locomotive Engineer, how many hours do Locomotive Engineers work, day to day work of a Locomotive Engineer

Additional resources

http://www.bls.gov/OOH/transportation-and-material-moving/railroad-occupations.htm
http://www.amtrak.com/
https://www.aar.org/


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