General Overview

Railroad laborers or track workers perform a wide array of maintenance and construction duties on a railroad track. Some of their job duties include replacing ties and bars, trimming bushes and grass and ensuring that rails are well kept. Railroad laborers possess strong knowledge of railroad rules and safety regulations and are required to make sure that they perform work in accordance to these protocols.

As part of their job, railroad workers paint and erect signs alongside railway lines. They also slide and align tie plates and repair or replace track switches when the need arises. Although not a highly technical position, railroad laborers need to possess some equipment and mechanical knowledge so that they can do justice to their work. Railroad laborers also spend quite some time and effort in planning manpower, materials and equipment needed for a specific project.


People who possess a high school diploma or a GED can apply for the position of a railroad laborer although candidates who possess a bachelor’s degree in transportation or logistics are usually preferred at the time of hiring. Many railroad laborers are entrusted with coordinating transportation activities of freight trains especially where transportation of vehicles or heavy equipment is concerned.

Railroad Laborer Job Description

Specific job duties of a railroad laborer include:

• Replace, remove and repair tracks as well as related components
• Align and slide track tie plates and cut rails to specified lengths
• Handle drilling activities for insertion of bolts or joints
• Align and gauge deviations in track surfaces in order to ensure train safety
• Install, repair and replace signs on railroad crossings
• Remove brush and other vegetation from between rails
• Perform lubrication activities on joints, angle bars and switches
• Perform authorized repairs and document outcomes of all repair activities
• Lay and fix foundations for tracks and replace worn out or rough rail ends
• Rebuild road beds and lay new rail sections
• Operate picks, shovels, bulldozers and spike driving machines to perform maintenance and repair work on rails
• Repair or replace specific components of the rail track
• Ensure that all railroad employees conform to the rules and regulations of safety
• Handle installation and maintenance of switch lamps
• Right derailed rolling stock and assist in lubricating wheel bearings
• Prepare cost reduction reports for purchasing repair and maintenance materials
• Handle inventory for purchased maintenance stocks and materials
• Coordinate transportation activities in order to expedite movement of cars and trains