What does a Locomotive Engineer do?

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.

Jobs Roles

  • Monitor gauges or meters that measure speed, amperage, battery charge, or air pressure in brakelines or in main reservoirs.
  • 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.
  • Confer with conductors or traffic control center personnel via radiophones to issue or receive information concerning stops, delays, or oncoming trains.
  • Operate locomotives to transport freight or passengers between stations or to assemble or disassemble trains within rail yards.
  • Respond to emergency conditions or breakdowns, following applicable safety procedures and rules.
  • Check to ensure that brake examination tests are conducted at shunting stations.
  • Call out train signals to assistants to verify meanings.
  • Inspect locomotives to verify adequate fuel, sand, water, or other supplies before each run or to check for mechanical problems.
  • Prepare reports regarding any problems encountered, such as accidents, signaling problems, unscheduled stops, or delays.
  • Check to ensure that documentation, such as procedure manuals or logbooks, are in the driver's cab and available for staff use.
  • Inspect locomotives after runs to detect damaged or defective equipment.
  • Drive diesel-electric rail-detector cars to transport rail-flaw-detecting machines over tracks.
  • Monitor train loading procedures to ensure that freight or rolling stock are loaded or unloaded without damage.
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