Locomotive Mechanic  What They Do

Just the Facts

Insider Info

dotLocomotive mechanics inspect, repair and maintain diesel locomotives. Those are the engines that move massive freight and passenger trains. Locomotives cost as much as $1 million each. The work mechanics do to extend the working lives of these powerful machines is essential to the success of railroads themselves.

In short, locomotive mechanics keep the trains running. They use their mechanical ability and skills with tools to repair and maintain the massive engines that power both freight and passenger trains.

dotLocomotive mechanics say that safety is their first concern. In fact, most locomotive mechanics have the ability to take locomotives out of commission if they feel they are unsafe.

Usually, though, the mechanics keep locomotives running smoothly.

dotMechanical ability and good hands are essential. Locomotive mechanics often find themselves working on very large and heavy equipment.

They operate precision machines such as drill presses and metal lathes. They should be comfortable with mechanical lifts used to hoist the diesel locomotives. Those locomotives can weigh upwards of 20 tons.

dotRailroads run around the clock. Mechanics that keep them working can expect to work some night and weekend hours. With seniority, however, a regular 40-hour workweek -- with the option of overtime -- kicks in.

Most mechanics work in large hangars where locomotives are brought for repair. Sometimes they must venture out into the elements when a train breaks down in transit.

dotLocomotive mechanics pride themselves on maintaining safe and clean work environments. In fact, many people love trains so much that after working on them all day, they also make them their hobby.

At a Glance

Repair and maintain train engines

  • Expect to work some nights and weekends
  • Mechanical ability and good hands are essential
  • A post-secondary education isn't required, but it's a good idea