Railway Car Technician/Car Mechanic

Railway Car Technicians/Car Mechanics (RCTs/CMs) typically work in rail yards where they perform safety inspections on car equipment or in shop facilities where they repair them. A RCT/CM has three important jobs: inspecting trains that have arrived at a yard, working on the repair tracks or in the repair shops and inspecting trains before they leave.

Regardless of the assignment, every shift begins with a Job Briefing conducted by the shift Supervisor who discusses any safety issues. Safety inspections for trains are a priority – and trains arrive all the time. So as a RCT/CM working in the yard you must be ready to do inspections or repairs throughout your shift.

Out at the Receiving Track, the work site is secured by locking the switches at both ends of a set of cars to prevent any car equipment or locomotives from moving onto the track where the inspection is being done and by setting-up blue warning flags at both ends of the track. Walking on either side of the train, two RCTs/CMs look underneath, alongside and around each car, making note of any defects such as bent, broken or dragging equipment or possible safety issues. Any car that can’t be repaired on-the-spot by the RCTs/CMs will be reported as ‘bad-order’ to the shift Supervisor so that it can be sent to the repair facility and fixed before it leaves the yard.

At the Repair Facility, a RCT/CM can be assigned a variety of jobs from trouble-shooting and testing rail cars to repairing, rebuilding and replacing their many parts. Whenever an important part of a car’s air-brake system has been repaired or replaced, RCTs/CMs must thoroughly check the entire system to ensure that it’s working properly. Before any train can leave the yard, it must be inspected and tested to make sure that it will run safely and reliably on schedule to its next destination. A team of two RCTs/CMs supply compressed air to the train, check the brakes and hoses on the cars and then conduct an airbrake test. Once the test checks-out, the RCTs/CMs report that the train is ready for departure and that they are ready for another job assignment.

Rain or shine, day or night, you’ll always find RCTs/CMs out completing necessary repairs. Because trains run 24/7, you must always be available to ensure equipment is in top working order.

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