Track Equipment Operator I & II (4971)

Crafts / Trades Socorro, New Mexico


Position Description:


Position Summary

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) is a diverse, exciting, and prestigious research facility that plays a vital role in the study of the universe. The Observatory operates a variety of radio telescopes that span the globe, including the famous Very Large Array (VLA) in New Mexico, the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia, and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile. These telescopes are among the most advanced in the world, allowing astronomers to explore the universe in unprecedented detail.


The NRAO is recruiting a full-time Track Equipment Operator I for our team in New Mexico.  Under specific guidelines and directions from the group supervisor or lead operator, performs a variety of tasks involving construction, loading, lifting, installation and maintenance of track system and regularly assists in the maintenance and repair of heavy equipment involving work related to the over 40 miles of double tracks and standard gauge used to reconfigure the antennas.  This is a “Safety Sensitive” position as noted in the Position Requirements Section.


The position is based at the VLA radio telescope site, 50 miles west of Socorro, NM. Socorro is a small, historical town in the Rio Grande Valley, 75 miles south of Albuquerque.


What You Will be Doing:

General duties of Track Equipment Operator I include repairing and rebuilding railroad track using hand tools and power tools. Examples of the duties include, but are not limited to:

        Performing track maintenance, track repairs and installations consisting of driving spikes into ties with spike maul; pulling spikes with claw bar; installing and removing rail anchors; sliding, placing, and aligning tie plates under rail; cutting rails with rail saw, and lifting rails with manual track jacks.

        Removing and replacing ties, pulling and driving spikes, shoveling rock ballast, loading and unloading equipment and materials;

        May be required to operate heavy equipment such as a dump truck and tractor trailer;

        Assisting in making track inspections such as visual inspections for broken rail, defective switches and signals, track obstructions or weather related problems such as track washouts;

        Handling and moving track material and equipment;

        Loading/unloading equipment weighing up to 50 pounds (chop saw, air tools, hydraulic tool, hand tampers); with assistance, remove and install rail using rail tongs; with assistance, remove ties and slide new ties into place using tie tongs; with assistance, move debris away from work site (spike cans, anchors);

        Performing track bed maintenance which involves removing and replacing ballast; tamping ballast; unloading or assisting in unloading ballast from trucks or ballast cars;

        Operating the following track specific equipment safely and effectively: hydraulic spike puller; air or hydraulic wrenches to loosen or tighten track bolts; rail drill; portable abrasive rail saw to cut rail;

        Assisting with repair and maintenance of track equipment and other related machinery or vehicles; perform preventative maintenance on equipment, as directed; may be required to transport equipment locally;

        Use survey equipment including levels and theodolites to measure rail and intersection levels.

        Possession and maintenance of appropriate certification and license is required.

        Occasional local and domestic travel may be required. May be required to transport equipment to other NRAO sites.

        Proactive compliance with NRAO and government safety policies and procedures in own work areas.

        Other related duties as assigned



Work Environment:

The Track Equipment Operator works as part of a team and must be physically able to work inside or outside in all weather conditions, near moving mechanical parts and around heavy machinery and electrical equipment. Must be able to carry equipment and tools, and operate a variety of tools and equipment. Able to lift and/or move up to 50 pounds, unassisted, and work in high noise areas with personal protective equipment (PPE).

Who You Are:


        You have a High school diploma or equivalent

        You have at least Two years related experience; equivalent combination of education and experience will be considered.

        While not required, You may have two years of experience maintaining and operating specialized production railway maintenance equipment. Demonstrated broad knowledge in the operation of railway maintenance equipment. As well as experience with arc and MIG welding


Competency Summary

Experience should demonstrate effective decision-making ability. Must be able to effectively communicate orally and/or using sketches or drawings. PC experience includes e-mail, word processing and data entry.


Additional Requirements

Must have (or obtain within six months of employment or transfer) and maintain a Commercial Driver's License (minimum of a Class B; Class A preferred).


Safety Sensitive

The selected candidate must successfully pass a post-offer, pre-employment/pre-placement drug screen.  Failure to pass the Screen will disqualify the candidate from employment consideration for a period of six months from the date of the results.


Total Rewards:


The NRAO offers a comprehensive total rewards package for this position, subject to eligibility requirements. We are committed to serving our employees and their families with an extensive and competitive compensation and benefits package that supports our employees’ overall well-being and career growth.



The NRAO strives to attract and retain dedicated, highly qualified, competent, and motivated employees by offering competitive compensation and recognition for performance.


Factors which may affect starting pay may include; education, experience, skills, competencies, other qualifications of the successful candidate, as well as internal equity and labor market conditions



NRAO’s benefits package addresses the needs of employees and their families with most benefits beginning on the first day of employment. NRAO provides excellent paid time off (13 holidays, annual accrual of up to 24 vacation days and 15 sick days, additional time off for doctor/dentist visits, and 8 weeks of paid parental leave). Medical, dental and vision plans are effective on the first day of employment. NRAO’s retirement benefit contributes an amount equal to 10 percent of a qualified participant’s base pay with no required employee contribution; we also offer an optional supplemental, tax-deferred plan for employee retirement contributions.


Application Instructions:


Select the “Apply” button. Please be prepared to upload your current CV/Resume and a cover letter describing interest and suitability for the position


Equal Opportunity Employer Statement:


AUI is an equal opportunity employer. Women, Minorities, Vietnam-Era Veterans, Disabled Veterans, Veterans and Individuals with Disabilities are encouraged to apply. To view our complete statement, please visit If you require reasonable accommodation for any part of the application or hiring process due to a disability, you may submit your request by sending an email to [email protected].



The NRAO is an equal opportunity employer (M/F/D/V)



The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc.