Rail-Track Laying and Maintenance Equipment Operators

Transportation, Distribution & Logistics > Facility and Mobile Equipment Maintenance

Projected Growth: Faster than average

Projected Job Openings

Some Preparation Needed

Job Description

Your job is to 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.

Common job titles of Rail-Track Laying and Maintenance Equipment Operators include:

Experience and Education

Some previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is usually needed. For example, a teller would benefit from experience working directly with the public.

  • 90.22% said they needed a High School Diploma.

  • 9.78% said they needed a Less than a High School Diploma.


    Observe leveling indicator arms to verify levelness and alignment of tracks.

    Lubricate machines, change oil, or fill hydraulic reservoirs to specified levels.

    Operate single- or multiple-head spike driving machines to drive spikes into ties and secure rails.

    Operate single- or multiple-head spike pullers to pull old spikes from ties.

    Clean, grade, or level ballast on railroad tracks.

    Engage mechanisms that lay tracks or rails to specified gauges.

    Operate track wrenches to tighten or loosen bolts at joints that hold ends of rails together.

    Raise rails, using hydraulic jacks, to allow for tie removal and replacement.

    Cut rails to specified lengths, using rail saws.

    Patrol assigned track sections so that damaged or broken track can be located and reported.

    String and attach wire-guidelines machine to rails so that tracks or rails can be aligned or leveled.

    Push controls to close grasping devices on track or rail sections so that they can be raised or moved.

    Spray ties, fishplates, or joints with oil to protect them from weathering.

    Drive vehicles that automatically move and lay tracks or rails over sections of track to be constructed, repaired, or maintained.

    Drive graders, tamping machines, brooms, or ballast spreading machines to redistribute gravel or ballast between rails.

    Clean or make minor repairs to machines or equipment.

    Grind ends of new or worn rails to attain smooth joints, using portable grinders.

    Drill holes through rails, tie plates, or fishplates for insertion of bolts or spikes, using power drills.

    Adjust controls of machines that spread, shape, raise, level, or align track, according to specifications.

    Dress and reshape worn or damaged railroad switch points or frogs, using portable power grinders.

    Repair or adjust track switches, using wrenches and replacement parts.

    Weld sections of track together, such as switch points and frogs.

    Operate tie-adzing machines to cut ties and permit insertion of fishplates that hold rails.

    Turn wheels of machines, using lever controls, to adjust guidelines for track alignments or grades, following specifications.

    Clean tracks or clear ice or snow from tracks or switch boxes.

    Paint railroad signs, such as speed limits or gate-crossing warnings.



Weed cutters

Vernier calipers

Tracked bulldozers

Track-wrench machines

Track chisels

Tamping machines

All Tools

Spike pullers


Shielded arc welding tools

Safety gloves

Safety glasses

Rail-mounted cranes

Rail tongs

Rail saws

Rail profile grinders

Rail drills

Rail benders

Protective ear plugs

Precision tape measures

Precision files

Power washers

Power grinders

Portable track loading fixtures

Pneumatic hammers


Pesticide sprayers

Oxyacetylene torches

Light pickup trucks

Laptop computers


Hydraulic jacks

Hi-rail vehicles

Hard hats

Handheld computers

Grease guns

Grading equipment

Global positioning system GPS receivers

Gas-powered wrenches


Fall protection harnesses

Dump trucks



Claw bars


Air-powered wrenches

Air purifying respirators

Air drills

Adjustable hand wrenches


Data entry software

Timekeeping software


Operation Monitoring

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

Operation and Control

Controlling operations of equipment or systems.

Equipment Maintenance

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


Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.

Critical Thinking

Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.


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


Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.


Repairing machines or systems using the needed tools.

Quality Control Analysis

Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.

Active Listening

Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Judgment and Decision Making

Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.

Time Management

Managing one's own time and the time of others.


Quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.

Control Movement Abilities › Psychomotor Abilities › Control Precision

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.

Control Movement Abilities › Psychomotor Abilities › Multilimb Coordination

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