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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Track Inspector


A Track Inspector inspects and monitors functions of railroad track and structures to assure compliance with Federal safety and health regulations among railroads, railroad employees, and contractors to railroads within an assigned geographical territory.  Significant duties include: 

  • Plan and implement a program of periodic inspections to provide optimum coverage of the railroad track network in the assigned territory. Coordinate operation of a track geometry test car and uses the information produced to detect, locate and evaluate deviations in cross-level, gage and profile of track. Perform on-ground inspections where defects are indicated to determine the seriousness of the problems and the best means of correction.
  • Prepare reports of violations when necessary, collecting sufficient back-up evidence to support agency attorneys in prosecution.
  • Investigate complaints from railroad employees, the general public, or Legislative or governmental representatives involving unsafe conditions of track or the other subject areas of responsibility, and interviews complainants, railroad officials, and any parties as required for proper investigation of the complaint.
  • Determine the need for and conducts safety meetings and training sessions for railroad employees regarding proper and safe inspection and maintenance procedures for track and other roadway facilities.
  • Perform, either individually, or as a member or leader of a team, investigations of significant train accidents resulting in serious injury to persons or property damage occurring on the line of any common carrier engaged in interstate or foreign commerce by railroad. Determines probable cause of accident or incident and whether any Federal regulations were violated.
  • Participate in evaluating requests of states or small railroads for Federal aid to upgrade light density rail lines and monitors the progress of work on Federal railroad assistance projects.
  • Conducts training of state-employed candidates for acceptance into the State Participation Program for track inspection; and evaluates the progress of the candidates, providing detailed progress reports.
  • Initiates and maintains contacts with employees in other Federal, State and local government agencies in connection with issues relating to Federal railroad assistance and enforcement of Federal railroad safety regulations.
  • Maintains contact with local and mid-level officials of railroads and rail labor organizations on a regular basis while performing inspection and investigative duties, and accession with officials at corporate and national levels.


To be qualified for a Track Inspector position you MUST have demonstrated knowledge in the following areas:

  • Railroad track system construction, maintenance, testing, or inspection techniques. 
  • Safety criteria for track structure and engineering. 
  • Federal railroad track safety standards

To qualify for the GS-12 , you must have at least one full year of specialized railroad related experience equivalent to the work performed at the next lower grade level for this occupation. Your experience must include at least a year:

  • Inspecting and reporting on the safety compliance conditions of the railroad track, facilities, safe working procedures and provisions of the employees, and the surrounding track right-of-way areas.
  • Writing narrative reports that describe track conditions, accidents, incidents or of safety violations. Presenting related railroad safety information to Federal, State, local government, and industry officials.

Physical Demands and Work Environment: The work requires long periods of walking on rocky and uneven surfaces around railroad tracks and accident sites, frequent bending and crouching to measure track geometry and inspect track defects, frequent climbing of embankments and track structures, and mounting and dismounting from railroad inspection vehicles. The inspector will occasionally travel on foot as much as ten miles in one day.

Most inspection work takes place along railroad tracks, in railroad yards, and around track structures, where the inspector must be alert at all times for the approach of trains or rolling equipment. The inspector must use extreme caution to avoid getting caught in the moving parts of turnouts, and to avoid slipping or tripping over track appurtenances or falling from structures. Safety eyeglasses, a safety helmet and safety shoes are usually worn while on railroad property. Accident investigations often bring the inspector in close proximity to hazardous materials and other potential hazards. While conducting inspections and accident investigations, the inspector is exposed to the weather conditions prevailing at the time, including temperature extremes and precipitation, and other environmental discomforts such as disagreeable insects, toxic vegetation, or poisonous snakes.

When monitoring compliance with workplace safety regulations on a bridge, the inspector regularly goes onto the bridges regardless of height above ground or water, equipped with personal fall protection equipment provided by the agency supplemented connected to fall arrest systems set up and used by the railroad or contractor.