Railcar Mover Safety

Railcar movers are formidable pieces of equipment used to move railroad cars around in a rail yard, rail line or industrial railway.  Capable of being driven on the ground and on rails, railcar movers are so large, that they are capable of moving loads in excess of 50,000 pounds making proper safety procedures just as big of a deal as they have become.

Railcar operators have a significant responsibility to ensure safety in three key areas:

  1. To ourselves
  2. To fellow employees
  3. To customers and their goods

Most Common Safety Issues

  1. Using Equipment Not Designed to Move Railcars
  2. Lack of Railcar Mover Operator Training Program
  3. Operators Not Following Proper Railcar Moving Procedures

Safety is not a joke. Get properly trained, maintain clear communication with ground staff and, follow rules of the rail.

What’s a Railcar Mover?

A railcar mover is a road-rail vehicle (capable of travelling on both roads and rail tracks) fitted with couplers for moving small numbers of railroad cars around in a rail siding or small yard. They are extensively used by railroad customers because they are cheaper than owning a switcher locomotive, more convenient and more cost effective.

Well-known railcar mover brands in North America include Trackmobile, Rail King and Shuttlewagon. These units borrow weight from coupled railcars to increase the vehicle weight for traction (measured in what’s called tractive effort). The original design included a coupler head that could be operated from the driver’s seat, and that would raise hydraulically to lift the railcar, transferring up to 49,000 lbs (22,680 kg) to the wheels of the vehicle.