Track maintenance and inspection

CE 515 Railroad Engineering
Track Maintenance, Track Inspection, FRA
Regulations, and Research & Development
Source: Armstrong Ch 3, AREMA Ch. 3,
REES Module 2
“Transportation exists to conquer space and time -”
Track Maintenance
• Deterioration of one component affects the other
• Spot replacement vs. complete track renewal
• Work Activities performed on a cycle
Track Maintenance
• For short lines/branch lines – maintenance is
done between trains or limited blocks of time.
• Windows for Maintenance Workers
Track Maintenance
• Track disturbance can lead to buckling
– Dynamic track stabilizer
Track Maintenance
• Lubrication – slows down the formation of
alignment and gage related problems
• Other friction modifiers?
Track Maintenance
• Rail grinding – grinding machines or
trains equipped with grinding wheels
Track Maintenance
• Vegetation Control – chemical and mechanical
Track Maintenance
• Stabilization and Drainage
• Welding
Track Maintenance
• Production Gangs
Track Inspection
• Measures the condition of the track
• Determines where maintenance is
• Visual and specialized
Inspector at Work
Track Inspection
• Rail Defect Testing – Ultrasonic vehicle
Track Inspection
• Gage Compliance - Geometry Cars
• Gage Restraint Measuring Systems (GRMS)
FRA Standards
• Railroad Safety Act of 1970
– Gave federal government jurisdiction
(Federal Railroad Administration)
– Resulted in minimum safety standards
Roadbed and track structure
Speed limits
• The FRA formulates and enforces rail
safety regulations.
FRA Standards
• Classes of Track
– Originally defined six classes based on
• Class 1 (10 mph freight) thru Class 6 (110 mph)
– Later expanded to include high-speed
• Classes 6 thru 9
– Represents speeds up to 200 mph
FRA Standards
• Most railroads have their own standards
• FRA standards considered bare
• State and federal inspectors
– Can suspend rail operations due to
Research & Development
• Majority funded by FRA
– Others include Association of American
Railroads, supply industry, railroads
• Mostly focused on safety
– Also study maintenance, materials, design &
• FAST track facility
Research & Development
• Noteworthy developments
– Necessity for rail head lubrication
– Improved turnout components
– Faster and more reliable inspection methods
• Still researching feasibility of very
heavy-axle-load cars
The Old Steel Rail – She Ain’t What
She Used to Be
• Recycle RR components

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