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Rail Yard Engineers, Dinkey Operators, and Hostlers

Drive switching or other locomotive or dinkey engines within railroad yard, industrial plant, quarry, construction project, or similar location.

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    Work Activities

    Work Activities

    • 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.
    • Signal crew members for movement of engines or trains, using lanterns, hand signals, radios, or telephones.
    • Confer with conductors and other workers via radiotelephones or computers to exchange switching information.
    • Inspect track for defects such as broken rails and switch malfunctions.
    • Couple and uncouple air hoses and electrical connections between cars.
    • Observe water levels and oil, air, and steam pressure gauges to ensure proper operation of equipment.
    • Drive engines within railroad yards or other establishments to couple, uncouple, or switch railroad cars.
    • Inspect the condition of stationary trains, rolling stock, and equipment.
    • Read switching instructions and daily car schedules to determine work to be performed, or receive orders from yard conductors.
    • Receive, relay, and act upon instructions and inquiries from train operations and customer service center personnel.
    • Spot cars for loading and unloading at customer locations.
    • Operate track switches, derails, automatic switches, and retarders to change routing of train or cars.
    • Ride on moving cars by holding onto grab irons and standing on ladder steps.
    • Operate switching diesel engines to switch railroad cars, using remote controls.
    • Report arrival and departure times, train delays, work order completion, and time on duty.
    • Perform routine repair and maintenance duties.
    • Drive locomotives to and from various stations in roundhouses to have locomotives cleaned, serviced, repaired, or supplied.
    • Pull knuckles to open them for coupling.
    • Record numbers of cars available, numbers of cars sent to repair stations, and types of service needed.
    • Operate and control dinkey engines to transport and shunt cars at industrial or mine sites.
    • Provide assistance in aligning drawbars, using available equipment to lift, pull, or push on the drawbars.
    • Operate flatcars equipped with derricks or railcars to transport personnel or equipment.
    • Provide assistance in the installation or repair of rails and ties.


    • Operation and Control

      Controlling operations of equipment or systems.

    • Monitoring

      Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

    • Operations Monitoring

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


    Applied Math
    Workplace Documents
    Graphic Literacy


    • Oral Comprehension

      The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.

    • Problem Sensitivity

      The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.

    • Far Vision

      The ability to see details at a distance.


    • Transportation

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

    • Public Safety and Security

      Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.

    • Administration and Management

      Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.

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    • Ohio Annual Salary 50750/yr
    • Typical Salary
    • Ohio Hourly Wage 24.4/hr
    • Typical Hourly Wage

    Ohio Employment Trends

    • Currently Employed Not Available
    • Yearly Projected Openings Not Available

    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:
    • Attention to Detail
    • Dependability
    • Adaptability/Flexibility
    • Cooperation
    • Concern for Others
    • Self Control


    • Wheel chocks
    • Railway signaling systems
    • Pressure indicators
    • Heavy rail turnout switch
    • Diesel freight locomotives


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    • Internet browser software
    • Facilities management software
    • Data base user interface and query software
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