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Rail-Track Laying and Maintenance Equipment Operators

Lay, repair, and maintain track for standard or narrow-gauge railroad equipment used in regular railroad service or in plant yards, quarries, sand and gravel pits, and mines. Includes ballast cleaning machine operators and railroad bed tamping machine operators.

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    Work Activities

    Work Activities

    • Patrol assigned track sections so that damaged or broken track can be located and reported.
    • Repair or adjust track switches, using wrenches and replacement parts.
    • Weld sections of track together, such as switch points and frogs.
    • Observe leveling indicator arms to verify levelness and alignment of tracks.
    • Operate single- or multiple-head spike driving machines to drive spikes into ties and secure rails.
    • Operate track wrenches to tighten or loosen bolts at joints that hold ends of rails together.
    • String and attach wire-guidelines machine to rails so that tracks or rails can be aligned or leveled.
    • Cut rails to specified lengths, using rail saws.
    • Lubricate machines, change oil, or fill hydraulic reservoirs to specified levels.
    • Drill holes through rails, tie plates, or fishplates for insertion of bolts or spikes, using power drills.
    • Clean tracks or clear ice or snow from tracks or switch boxes.
    • Clean, grade, or level ballast on railroad tracks.
    • Raise rails, using hydraulic jacks, to allow for tie removal and replacement.
    • Adjust controls of machines that spread, shape, raise, level, or align track, according to specifications.
    • Engage mechanisms that lay tracks or rails to specified gauges.
    • Drive graders, tamping machines, brooms, or ballast spreading machines to redistribute gravel or ballast between rails.
    • Drive vehicles that automatically move and lay tracks or rails over sections of track to be constructed, repaired, or maintained.
    • Dress and reshape worn or damaged railroad switch points or frogs, using portable power grinders.
    • Clean or make minor repairs to machines or equipment.
    • Grind ends of new or worn rails to attain smooth joints, using portable grinders.
    • Operate single- or multiple-head spike pullers to pull old spikes from ties.
    • Turn wheels of machines, using lever controls, to adjust guidelines for track alignments or grades, following specifications.
    • Push controls to close grasping devices on track or rail sections so that they can be raised or moved.
    • Operate tie-adzing machines to cut ties and permit insertion of fishplates that hold rails.
    • Paint railroad signs, such as speed limits or gate-crossing warnings.
    • Spray ties, fishplates, or joints with oil to protect them from weathering.


    • Operation and Control

      Controlling operations of equipment or systems.

    • Operations Monitoring

      Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.

    • Equipment Maintenance

      Performing routine maintenance on equipment and determining when and what kind of maintenance is needed.


    Applied Math
    Workplace Documents
    Graphic Literacy


    • Control Precision

      The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.

    • Manual Dexterity

      The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.

    • Multilimb Coordination

      The ability to coordinate two or more limbs (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while sitting, standing, or lying down. It does not involve performing the activities while the whole body is in motion.


    • Transportation

      Knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and benefits.

    • Mechanical

      Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.

    • Building and Construction

      Knowledge of materials, methods, and the tools involved in the construction or repair of houses, buildings, or other structures such as highways and roads.

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    Ohio Employment Trends

    • Currently Employed 230
    • Yearly Projected Openings 30

    Typical Education


    Realistic: People interested in this work like activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions.They do well at jobs that need:
    • Dependability
    • Attention to Detail
    • Concern for Others
    • Cooperation
    • Integrity
    • Adaptability/Flexibility


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