CAREER GUIDES

Here's how a yard officials main duty involves safe marshalling and transport of trainloads

Image: 123RF/Sitthinan Saengsanga.

Yard officials work in shunting yards where trains are loaded and unloaded. The job of a yard official is to place and clear trucks, compile, receive and dispatch trains and deliver trucks to their required destination. 

The contents of the trucks vary from heavy ore to livestock. Yard officials make sure that the trucks are connected to the correct locomotive and ensure that all trucks are properly coupled. They also make sure that the train has sufficient braking force for the proposed journey.

They need to keep the external condition of trucks in order. They may be required to feed livestock where necessary and check cooling units. Obviously, special precautions need to be taken when shunting trucks carrying explosives.

A yard official in South Africa works for Transnet, the state-owned freight transport and logistics company and the custodian of the country’s rail, ports and pipeline networks.

Personal requirements

  • Reliable and responsible
  • Good health to perform physically demanding work
  • Able to work in a team
  • Physically fit
  • Enjoys working outdoors, not minding weather conditions
  • Safety conscious
  • An eye for detail
  • Good communication (verbal and written)
  • Accurate
  • Client orientatedc
  • Conscientious
  • Safety conscious

How to enter

Schooling & school subjects: A matric certificate 

What to study

The yard official usually starts off as a Trainee Yard Official. They receive training on-the-job by working in a team with qualified persons. Theoretical and practical training is offered at larger centres such as Kaserne, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein, Durban, Germiston, Esselen Park.

Employment

Transnet

Getting started

  • Research more about trains and transport  
  • Speak to yard officials about this type of work and ask permission to observe them at work

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