Railroad Jobs

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The railroad had many jobs, some we all know and some kind of out in the background, unnoticed but vital to everyday smooth operations.

The Yard Master: Oversees switching and yard operations where trains are "made up" or prepared for their next service, and schedules maintenance of trains. Has control of movement in the rail yard responsible for the smooth transition of engines and cars as they moved from one line to the next and on to their next destination.

The Conductor: The conductor, engineer, and additional engine crew members (fireman, pilot engineer) share responsibility for safe and efficient train operation and adherence to railway rules and procedures. On some railroads, union contracts specify that conductors must progress to engineer.

Retarder Operator-Switchman: Just like the job title says had to throw switches either by hand or with air operated controls. One of the most dangerous jobs!

The Passenger Trainman: Duties combine those of the porter and steward on modern passenger trains.

The Hosteler: Support the loading and unloading of intermodal containers to and from the rail cars

  1. The High Ball: Another term for a clear signal, derived from the days of steam where a station operator would hoist a large wooden ball up a standard, signaling that the engineer was authorized to proceed.
  2. A slang term used among railroad employees to convey to the crew of a train that they were clear to proceed