What Do Rail Yard Engineers Do (including Their Typical Day At Work)

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Job Description, Daily Responsibilities, and Work Life

Rail Yard Engineers

Rail Yard Engineers drive switching or other locomotive or dinkey engines within railroad yard, industrial plant, quarry, construction project, or similar location.

Salary
$55200
Becoming One
Easy
Education
No degree required
Job Satisfaction
Low
Job Growth
Low

Personality
Interest Match



Job Description

Job Description

Rail Yard Engineers drive switching or other locomotive or dinkey engines within railroad yard, industrial plant, quarry, construction project, or similar location. They also confer with conductors and other workers via radiotelephones or computers to exchange switching information.

Other tasks include:

  • Signal crew members for movement of engines or trains, using lanterns, hand signals, radios, or telephones.
  • Observe and respond to wayside and cab signals, including color light signals, position signals, torpedoes, flags, and hot box detectors.
  • Drive engines within railroad yards or other establishments to couple, uncouple, or switch railroad cars.
  • Inspect engines before and after use to ensure proper operation.
  • Apply and release hand brakes.
  • Read switching instructions and daily car schedules to determine work to be performed, or receive orders from yard conductors.

We asked Rail Yard 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, Rail Yard Engineers inspect engines before and after use to ensure proper operation. They report arrival and departure times, train delays, work order completion, and time on duty.

A typical day for a Rail Yard Engineer, Dinkey Operator and Hostler will also include:

  • Inspect the condition of stationary trains, rolling stock, and equipment.
  • Confer with conductors and other workers via radiotelephones or computers to exchange switching information.
  • Operate switching diesel engines to switch railroad cars, using remote controls.
  • Record numbers of cars available, numbers of cars sent to repair stations, and types of service needed.
  • Apply and release hand brakes.

We asked some Rail Yard 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? 50% said yes
How important is it to work in a team in this job? 83% 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? 8% said yes
Do you have to deal with angry customers everyday in this job? 7% said yes
Do you have to make decisions everyday in this job? 53% said yes

Other responsibilities

Besides their typical day, Rail Yard Engineers also perform routine repair and maintenance duties. They may also drive locomotives to and from various stations in roundhouses to have locomotives cleaned, serviced, repaired, or supplied.

On a weekly to monthly basis, Rail Yard Engineers Provide assistance in aligning drawbars, using available equipment to lift, pull, or push on the drawbars. They might also Couple and uncouple air hoses and electrical connections between cars.

In addition, they Ride on moving cars by holding onto grab irons and standing on ladder steps.

Although specific duties may vary, many of them Operate flatcars equipped with derricks or railcars to transport personnel or equipment.

To some Rail Yard Engineers, it is also their responsibility to Operate track switches, derails, automatic switches, and retarders to change routing of train or cars.


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 Rail Yard Engineer, Dinkey Operator and Hostler, you can expect to work more than 40 hours per week.

Do Rail Yard Engineers work in an office-style work environment?

Never
66%


Once a week
17%


Do Rail Yard Engineers work outdoors?

Every day
79%


Never
13%



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 Rail Yard Engineers

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Related to Rail Yard Engineers, Dinkey Operators and Hostlers Job Description

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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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