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People on the Railway: Who and What is Behind the Functioning of the Railway?

People on the Railway: Who and What is Behind the Functioning of the Railway?
photo: Tony Robertson / Flickr/People on the Railway
30 / 01 / 2024

Trains are complex systems that combine technology, engineering, and infrastructure to transport people and freight efficiently and reliably over the rail network. Do you know who works on the railway and what their roles are?

When is a Train Actually a Real Train?

A train is made up of several key elements and components that work together to move and transport passengers or freight along the railway. The locomotive is the driving force of the train. It is powered by steam, diesel fuel, or electricity. Modern trains often use electric traction, where electricity is supplied from the power line or a third rail.

Another essential component is the carriages. These are vehicles that carry passengers or freight. A train consists of one or more locomotives and a varying number of cars. Train sets can have different types of cars, such as passenger, freight, or sleeping cars. The railway forms the infrastructure over which the train moves. The train track is usually made up of rails fixed on the track bed. The railway system may also include signals, switches, tunnels, and bridges.

Jim Phillips / Flickr

The axles are also part of the overall system, placed under the cars and holding the tracks. And, what are tracks? They are two parallel bars made of metal, most often steel, laid at a fixed spacing on the track bed.

In the case of electric traction, the train is powered by electricity. This can be achieved either by a power line above the rails, where the locomotive is equipped with a current collector, or by a third rail, which is an additional track running along the rails. All trains have signaling and traffic control systems to enable safe and efficient movement along the railway. Signals and control systems help regulate speed, prevent collisions, and maintain safe operations.

Who Works on the Railway?

Railroads employ a variety of professionals and workers at different levels and in different areas. Engineers work to plan, design, and maintain rail infrastructure, including tracks, bridges, tunnels, and stations. Dispatchers, on the other hand, are responsible for monitoring and controlling the movement of trains on the line. They coordinate and manage operations to ensure safety and efficiency. Locomotive engineers operate and control the locomotives on the line. They must have knowledge of locomotive control systems and safety procedures.

Maintenance and repair engineers are responsible for the maintenance and repair of tracks, signaling systems, locomotives, and wagons. This may include routine maintenance, diagnostics, and repairs. Inspectors monitor compliance with safety rules and procedures on the railway. They carry out inspections and tests to ensure that all aspects of operations comply with standards. Safety Assurance Officers are responsible for overseeing safety at stations and other railway facilities.

A special category is staff at counters and information centers in direct contact with passengers. They help with ticketing and provide information on connections and routes. Conductors ensure the comfort of passengers on board trains. They check tickets, provide information, and ensure that passengers have a safe and pleasant journey. Station staff include those who look after cleanliness, information boards, platforms, and other aspects of the station. Such a team of diverse professionals is essential for the smooth and safe operation of the rail network.