Despite the existence of many other modes of transportation, many jobs can still be found in the railway industry in 2008. A simple web search turns up many sites advertising for rail jobs, railroad jobs, or railway jobs worldwide. The positions range from traditional train oriented jobs to more clerical ones in the train lines’ offices. As with any other industry, pay ranges from a volunteer job or internship to a full time career complete with salary and benefits. In the United States, we expect the trend of train travel to grow as more people are using trains to commute to and from work as well as travel on leisure time.
Many regional and tourist railroads, which generally operate on small sections of track no longer used for shipping freight, hire volunteers at first. These rail jobs range from office workers who set up the tours on the trains to the engineers on the trains themselves and costumed conductors who ride the train with the guests. The organizational staff in the office answers the telephone, helping to book special events like birthday parties on the train as well as selling tickets to regularly scheduled excursions and answering guests’ questions about the events. Some of these volunteers later earn their way into paid positions as ridership increases and they have remained with the railway for a few seasons. The guests of these scenic railways enjoy talking with the costumed conductors and the other workers who ride along. Some of the workers are purely train enthusiasts who take the excursions and narrate tours for guests, while others are paid historians who write the narrations.
Obviously, both the tourist trains and the large passenger and freight systems do hire people of the same job descriptions. Both types of railway need engineers to operate the trains. These essential railway jobs, of course, would receive higher pay and benefits due to the vast amounts of training that the applicant would need to possess to do the jobs. e.g. a person wishing to become a locomotive engineer will often train first as a brakeman or conductor while learning to operate the train during the period of on the job and classroom training. This specialized training is only allowed to be completed by men and women at least 21 years of age who are in good physical health who have graduated high school. As of 1992, engineers for trains are only certified when they prove that they not only handle trains safely, but also possess clean driving records with other vehicles, are drug and alcohol free, and have the necessary visual and hearing acuity in addition to having successfully completed all of the training and testing set forth by the government.
Mechanics to keep the trains in working order are also necessary for the survival of the railways. Because of the nature and size of a train engine, prior training in diesel mechanics is crucial for those wishing to work in this field. This rail job also requires at least a high school education to enter into training and once the applicant has trained for it, he or she can become employed full or part time repairing the engines. A logical way to begin training for this type of position could even include studying engine maintenance and repair at a technical school while attending high school, moving on to more specialized training and apprenticeships in train engine repair after graduating from the technical school.
Without track construction and maintenance, no passengers or freight could arrive at their destinations on time. This line of work encompasses many people, from those who inspect the tracks and train cars for safety to those who do the actual construction and repair. Project managers with specialized companies perform the inspections and recommend how the rail company should clean the track or detail what parts of the track need to be repaired and how in order to keep functioning. Some of these companies also rent to the railroads the tools necessary to perform the tasks. Inspections are tailored to each railroad based on what it transports and how frequently trains run on each track. These inspectors, and the planners who design the railways, must take training in civil engineering to learn how to plan out the rails and bridges to be safe in the area in which they are built before giving the plans to the people who will execute them. Both on paper and in the building, the tracks need to be horizontally and vertically set for the type of terrain the train will travel to make its journeys efficient and save the railroad money on operating costs. The inspectors and repairmen on the line must be highly skilled at fixing only what needs it at the time to preserve this efficiency as well.
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