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Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operators and Locomotive Firers - 53-4022.00

O*NET-SOC Description

Operate or monitor railroad track switches or locomotive instruments. May couple or uncouple rolling stock to make up or break up trains. Watch for and relay traffic signals. May inspect couplings, air hoses, journal boxes, and hand brakes. May watch for dragging equipment or obstacles on rights-of-way.

Sample of Reported Job Titles

No information available.

SOC Occupation Groups

53-0000 Transportation and Material Moving Occupations
53-4000 Rail Transportation Workers
53-4020 Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operators and Locomotive Firers
53-4022.00 Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operators and Locomotive Firers

Related Occupations


  • Adjust controls to regulate air-conditioning, heating, and lighting on trains for comfort of passengers.
  • Answer questions from passengers concerning train rules, stations, and timetable information.
  • Check to see that trains are equipped with supplies such as fuel, water, and sand.
  • Climb ladders to tops of cars to set brakes.
  • Conduct brake tests to determine the condition of brakes on trains.
  • Connect air hoses to cars, using wrenches.
  • Inspect couplings, air hoses, journal boxes, and handbrakes to ensure that they are securely fastened and functioning properly.
  • Inspect locomotives to detect damaged or worn parts.
  • Inspect tracks, cars, and engines for defects and to determine service needs, sending engines and cars for repairs as necessary.
  • Make minor repairs to couplings, air hoses, and journal boxes, using hand tools.
  • Monitor oil, temperature, and pressure gauges on dashboards to determine if engines are operating safely and efficiently.
  • Monitor trains as they go around curves to detect dragging equipment and smoking journal boxes.
  • Observe signals from other crew members so that work activities can be coordinated.
  • Observe tracks from left sides of locomotives to detect obstructions on tracks.
  • Observe train signals along routes and verify their meanings for engineers.
  • Operate and drive locomotives, diesel switch engines, dinkey engines, flatcars, and railcars in train yards and at industrial sites.
  • Operate locomotives in emergency situations.
  • Provide passengers with assistance entering and exiting trains.
  • Pull or push track switches to reroute cars.
  • Raise levers to couple and uncouple cars for makeup and breakup of trains.
  • Receive oral or written instructions from yardmasters or yard conductors indicating track assignments and cars to be switched.
  • Record numbers of cars available, numbers of cars sent to repair stations, and types of service needed.
  • Refuel and lubricate engines.
  • Ride atop cars that have been shunted, and turn handwheels to control speeds or stop cars at specified positions.
  • Set flares, flags, lanterns, or torpedoes in front and at rear of trains during emergency stops to warn oncoming trains.
  • Signal locomotive engineers to start or stop trains when coupling or uncoupling cars, using hand signals, lanterns, or radio communication.
  • Signal other workers to set brakes and to throw track switches when switching cars from trains to way stations.
  • Start diesel engines to warm engines before runs.

Detailed Work Activities

  • Arrange maintenance activities.
  • Assist customers to ensure comfort or safety.
  • Assist passengers during vehicle boarding.
  • Climb ladders or vehicles to perform duties.
  • Connect hoses to equipment or machinery.
  • Control equipment that regulates vehicle traffic.
  • Inspect locomotives or other railroad equipment.
  • Install parts, assemblies, or attachments in transportation or material handling equipment.
  • Maintain locomotives or other rail equipment in good working condition.
  • Monitor availability of equipment or supplies.
  • Monitor engine operation or functioning.
  • Monitor equipment gauges or displays to ensure proper operation.
  • Monitor surroundings to detect potential hazards.
  • Monitor traffic signals.
  • Observe equipment in operation to detect potential problems.
  • Operate locomotives or other rail vehicles.
  • Provide transportation information to passengers or customers.
  • Receive information or instructions for performing work assignments.
  • Record operational or production data.
  • Record service or repair activities.
  • Signal others to coordinate vehicle movement.
  • Test mechanical systems to ensure proper functioning.

Military Crosswalk Titles

  • Cavalry Scout (Army - Enlisted)
  • Railway Specialist (USAR only) (Army - Enlisted)
  • Unit Supply Specialist (Army - Enlisted)
  • Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic (Army - Enlisted)

Apprenticeship Crosswalk Titles

No information available.

DOT Crosswalk Titles

  • Brake Coupler, Road Freight
  • Brake Holder
  • Braker, Passenger Train
  • Firer, Locomotive
  • Locomotive Operator Helper
  • Switch Tender
  • Yard Coupler