Past and Present Railroad Job Descriptions

Dispatching Center Personnel

  • Dispatcher
    Schedules and monitors all train movements, responsible for traffic control and for communicating routine and unforeseen phenomena which may affect the flow of rail traffic.
  • Freight Traffic Manager
    Oversees freight traffic.
  • Trainmaster
    Oversees train operations.
  • Yardmaster
    Oversees switching and yard operations where trains are "made up" or prepared for their next service, and schedules maintenance of trains.
  • Division Superintendent
    Individual with authority over a section, i.e., North Platte to Cheyenne. Responsible for track maintenance and oversees scheduling and other duties contributing to smooth traffic flow between destinations.
  • Tower Operator
    Controls switching in and out of yards.
  • Telegrapher
    Responsible for sending, receiving and routing messages by electric transmission over wire via coded signals.
  • Special Agent
    Railroad Police.

Passenger Train Personnel

  • Station Master/Depot Agent
    Oversees operations connected with railroad building adjacent to tracks, where passengers and freight may be located.
  • Passenger Director
    Directs and manages passenger traffic, provides information relating to passenger travel.
  • Porter
    One employed to carry baggage for and assist patrons at rail terminals; a car attendant who waits on passengers and makes up berths.
  • Steward
    One who manages the provisioning of food and attends passengers.
  • Stewardess
    In the UP passenger system, the stewardess was often a registered nurse who attended the medical needs of travelers.
  • Car Attendant
    One whose duties combine those of the porter and steward on modern passenger trains.
  • Cook
    One who prepares main entrees on passenger trains.
  • Pantry Chef
    One who assists the cook, responsible mainly for side dishes, breads and desserts.
  • Ticket Clerk
    Stationed at the ticket window, this person provides tickets and tour information to passengers.
  • Baggage Clerk
    Responsible for tagging baggage, loading, unloading and routing baggage en route between destinations.
  • RPO Clerk
    Railroad postal clerk.

Survey and Construction Personnel

  • Civil Engineer
    An engineer whose training or occupation is in the designing and construction of public or private works, such as railroads.
  • Surveyor
    One who applies geometry and trigonometry to determine the area of any portion of the earth's surface, the lengths and directions of the bounding lines, and the contour of the surface, and accurately delineates the whole on paper.
  • Rodman
    Surveyor's assistant, one who holds the leveling rod.
  • Flagman
    Surveyor's assistant, one who signals with a flag.
  • Axemen
    Works with the surveyor, cuts the surveyor's stakes.
  • Track Layer
    One who lays the rails in place on the rail bed.
  • Grader
    Grades and shapes the continuous, level, raised bed on which tracks and ties are laid.
  • Teamster
    One who drives a team of horses, mules or other draft animals. Precursor to the Teamster's Union.
  • Herder
    Manager and tender of livestock.

Train Crew

  • Engineer
    Responsible for operating the locomotive.
  • Conductor
    In charge of train in its entirety, and of the train crew at large.
  • Brakeman
    Inspects the train, assists the conductor, operates the brakes and assists in switching.
  • Fireman
    Steam locomotive crew who feeds the firebox with fuel. On diesel locomotives, the firemen would monitor controls and assist the engineer.

Yard or Field Operations

  • Switchman
    Attends the switch in a railroad yard, switching trains from one track to another.
  • Signal Maintainer
    Maintains signals, including those of hot box detectors, dragging equipment detectors, railroading crossings, CTC and formerly telegraph lines.
  • Section Foreman
    Individual in authority over group of workers.
  • Section Crew
    Group of workers responsible for assisting in yard operations.