What does a Rail-Track Laying and Maintenance Equipment Operator do?

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.

Jobs Roles

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