Signals and Communications Maintainer

Signals and Communication Maintainers are responsible for the many systems that monitor and control the movements of trains, thereby ensuring safe and reliable railroad operations.

On any given shift, you’re likely to find a Signals and Communication Maintainer inspecting, trouble-shooting or repairing road crossing warning systems, switches, track circuits and signals and train safety monitoring systems. A typical assignment starts with communicating with the Rail Traffic Control centre and other functions to secure authorization to use the track to travel to work-sites often in remote locations only accessible by rail. The standard mode of transportation is a high-rail truck capable of travelling on roads and rough terrain – as well as along the track.

Many of the locations a supervisor will assign a Signals and Communication Maintainer to work at are found along the track including power switches, up on signalling systems for trains at roadway crossing systems for public safety, on wayside detection equipment found along the track and inside the many equipment bungalows that house a variety of rail communication and safety systems.

Often working alone, Signals and Communication Maintainers are highly skilled, trained and certified in the troubleshooting and repairing of everything from basic electrical systems that operate track signalling equipment to the complex electronic and monitoring devices that monitor rail traffic. This requires a solid understanding of electrical and electronic theory, an ability to read schematics, familiarity with specialized tools such as underground cable locators and bonding wire welders as well as the use of specialized signal tracers, digital voltmeters and standard electrical hand-tools.

The types of tasks a Signals and Communication Maintainer may do during a shift are often diverse. Some jobs are simple – like replacing bulbs or adjusting lights while others are more challenging – such as troubleshooting code or signal failures.

Some jobs are physically demanding with a lot of bending and lifting of different types of material, while other jobs just have to be done – like lubricating switches or scheduled maintenance on a variety of equipment.

Because the railroad operates 24/7, Signals and Communication Maintainers often do shift work and emergency repairs at all times during the day and night and in all kinds of weather. At the end of each shift – no matter how challenging – Signal and Communication Maintainers have the satisfaction of knowing they played an important part in keeping trains running safely and on schedule.

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