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Thread: Railroad Jobs

  1. #1
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    Default Railroad Jobs

    Hi,

    I have never worked in the Railroad Industry. I just read a post from Paul Schmidt in which he reference his job as a signal electronic technician. I immediately thought, "Hmmm. A signal electronic technician I wonder what that job entails. Does he install the signals along the track? Does he fix them or what?" I then started thinking about all the railroad jobs there are and I thought it might be interesting if people who work in the railroad industry could respond to this message with there job title and a brief description of what they do.

    I think it would be interesting to know for those of us who like to model railways but have never worked for one.
    Regards,
    Warren

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    I've never worked for a railroad, but I did work for a supplier, Railroad Friction Products Corp. We made COBRAŹ brand brake shoes and disc brake pads for freight and passenger cars, locomotives, and transit vehicles. I was a design engineer and my day to day didn't really involve railroads, but manufacturing. I did become familiar with how brake systems worked on the railroad and answered technical questions from our customers. I did help write and did the drawings for AAR (American Association of Railroads) standard S-431, "Brake Shoes - High Friction Composition Type - Limiting Contour".
    Tim Rumph
    Modeling the Southern Railway in N-Scale

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  5. #3
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    I used to be a computer programmer for BN (and then BNSF). Never came anywhere near any actual trains

    -Mark

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    Had a job as office clerk with the Danish State Railways just after high school and before I really knew what I wanted to do. Worked at the ticket booth at Copenhagen Central Station and (that was before the interweb) on the telephone information hotline. Quit after a few years and nothing really rail related since then.
    nScale.net: Elsewhere Yard
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    I work in the roundhouse of the Durango and Silverton. My official job title is Machinist/Mechanic. In general terms, I service and repair locomotives. In the summertime, I work the evening shift. I coal, sand, wash and lubricate the locomotives as they come in, and inspect them for any damage and do whatever repairs are necessary to get it ready to go out again in the morning. The D&S is a working railroad. And doing the repair work is a dirty, greasy heavy hot and oftentimes thankless job. We regularly do repairs on 2nd shift in a night that it might take a museum weeks to do. That's one thing I love about it. Never get too bored, there's always something to do.

    But the nice part about working for a small company like that is I often get to do whatever needs done. I'm also brakeman qualified, but I don't get to do that as often as I'd like. I've driven a golf cart full of little old ladies who can't walk well from the train to the bus. I've scrubbed toilets. I've helped re-rail locomotives. I do the driver re-contouring, tire replacements, and quartering.


    I did all the electrical work on the 476 and the 493 when we rebuilt them.

    The 493 didn't have any of that stuff left in it. I made all the gauge lamps and brackets to hold them from scratch. Restored the headlight switch. Put in most of the conduit, and did all the wiring.

    Also get to see and do things people don't get to see every day anymore.

    The rivet gun I'm using there was stamped for the Denver and Salt Lake, which hasn't existed for 70 years. Nobody hot rivets much these days, either.


    That night we were limping the locomotive back to the house after it broke a spring hanger on its run that day and had to be left on a siding while the diesel rescued the train. Waiting for an authority at Hermosa in the dark, with the moon and tank and caboose n the headlight glow... Who even gets to SEE something like that these days?




    Nothing like the quiet of a graveyard locomotive watchman shift listening to the locos hissing on the ready track


    Or last fall up in Silverton, I was up at 3 am to light off a locomotive in time for its 7 am call time.
    "Do Not Hump!?!?! Does that mean what I think it means?!?"--Michelle Blanchard

    "People saw wood and say nothing, but railroad men saw trains and say things that are better left unprinted."--Charles De Lano Hine

    Down with UP


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    Quote Originally Posted by Spookshow View Post
    I used to be a computer programmer for BN (and then BNSF). Never came anywhere near any actual trains

    -Mark
    Interesting, what were you coding, was it internal tools, or web site or something else. Also what languages did you work in.

    Sorry as a programmer myself I have to get geeky.

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  12. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by ranulf View Post
    I work in the roundhouse of the Durango and Silverton.
    I road on the Durango and Silverton back in 2007 when we were in Colorado on a vacation. We have a picture of the 486 hanging in our house. It was a great train trip. I would recommend it to anyone.
    Regards,
    Warren

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jpgale View Post
    Interesting, what were you coding, was it internal tools, or web site or something else. Also what languages did you work in.

    Sorry as a programmer myself I have to get geeky.
    I was only there a couple-three years and spent most of that time working on a customer service system called TrackSmart that was used to locate shipments for customers. It was pretty much the railroad's first stab at monitoring freight in "real time" (or at least as "real time" as circa 1990 technology allowed). It ran on Unix and was coded in C.

    -Mark

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    My dad worked for IBM. He was the customer engineer for the Santa Fe back in the 60's, when Santa Fe had one computer. One of things they used it for was inventory control. Back then, they just had part number, location and quantity.

    After running it for a while, they had about $7M of inventory that wasn't moving. He went down to the shop to talk to the old guys about what these things really were. The list included crosshead guides, cross-compound air pumps, stay bolts, injectors, feedwater pumps ... Yes, they had about $5M worth of obsolete (at least as for as the ATSF was concerned) steam engine parts.

    Caused a bit of a stir when the upper management types found out about this.
    Tim Rumph
    Modeling the Southern Railway in N-Scale

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    Quote Originally Posted by ranulf View Post
    I work in the roundhouse of the Durango and Silverton.
    I'd swap places with you in a heartbeat. How cool. ...
    Paul Schmidt

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  20. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by African Pirate View Post
    Does he install the signals along the track?
    Did when I was a signalman on a signal construction crew.

    Quote Originally Posted by African Pirate View Post
    Does he fix them or what?"
    I maintain, test, install, inspect, repair and upgrade grade crossing predictors and motion detectors, trackside warning defect detectors, wayside signal logic controllers, Positive Train Control radios and antennas, CTC and grade-crossing remote radios, fiber optic modems and Bell modems, audio frequency overlay transmitters and receivers, exit-gate management systems, maintain and repair humpyard computers and input/output modules, do software upgrades on all the above, and wiring. I also perform some discreet component repair on modules and cards.

    Oh, and very, very occasionally (as in not since 2012) I change out a burned out signal light bulb. But that's usually the signal maintainers' job.
    Paul Schmidt

    Shasta (2008-2020) -- All good dogs should live forever

    Southern Railway's Slate Fork Branch

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  22. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Schmidt View Post
    Originally Posted by ranulf
    I work in the roundhouse of the Durango and Silverton.
    I'd swap places with you in a heartbeat. How cool. ...
    Same here!!

    I'm semi-retired now after 42 years in the railways in Australia. I started 3 months after my 16th birthday, 17 December 1974 in a signalbox (signal tower) at Enfield freight yards. Most fun I ever had, what with runaway wagons, derailments and just watching trains. Progressed through the ranks as signalman, eventually landing in Sydney signalbox.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uj-PxcvsqLE
    That's the place a couple of years after I left in July 1989 (I know and worked with all those guys). I moved to Broadmeadow CTC, the control centre in the NSW Hunter Valley as Controller (dispatcher) operating the Westinghouse dinosaur of a control system covering 150km of single line with 13 crossing loops (passing sidings). It was eventually upgraded and expanded with an Ansaldo Phoenix system.
    So, April 7th, 2007, ARTC (Australian Rail Track Corp.) took formal control of the NSW country network, that was my cue to exit, taking volentry redundancy after 32 years & 4 months in government service.
    Next step was Protection Officer L4 with a private company, Momentum Rail. I was in charge of rail safety for track crews and contractors working in the rail corridor. Talking to the control centre (the guys I used to work with) and getting 'possession windows' so they could work on track. Sometimes with track machines, tampers, regulators, grinders or work trains. The company got the contract to provide rail safety people to BHP's rail duplication project but as there wasn't enough safety guys to kick it off, myself and 2 others came across from the east.
    That started me on 2 years of FIFO (Fly In Fly Out) up north, on 3:1 -3 weeks of 12 hour days there and 1 week home. During this time the family, my then wife, 3 daughters, dog and cat, relocated to Perth/Mandurah, where I am now. July 2011, the BHP job ended, after 7 days off started with FMG (Fortesque Metals Group) doing the same thing again but as a direct employee this time, ending in December 2013.
    Febuary 2014 started with Roy Hill Holdings, yet another iron ore railway construction project in the Pilbura region. Finished up in June. July, while doing a medical for yet another railway job, I was hospitalised.
    Short version, I had Swine flu, contracted from my time up north. In a coma for 3.5 weeks, during which I died twice, recovered, had to go through intense physio to learn to walk again, finally got out of hospital in September, 9 weeks later. Took the family on a 8 week holiday (thanks to my insurance payout).
    Started back as a Cert IV trainer/assessor. Trained contractors and Perth Transit people in railway rules. 11 months later, the PTA internalised the training so back to track protection officer for me in Perth area this time, until my medical accreditation expired in August 2017. At $1,000 and no guarantee I'm not that keen on going back to rail so I'm just doing 'casual' work now.

    That's pretty much my life, a bit more than what's probably wanted here, still, the railway interest's still with me.....
    Cheers,

    Russ

    CEO of Devil's Gate Mining Co.



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