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Rail News: Maintenance Of Way

BNSF counts on campaign to help prevent track buckles

So far this year, BNSF Railway Co. has had three derailments caused by buckling track on mainlines. Two of the derailments could have been prevented if workers had followed proper maintenance procedures, maintenance-of-way officials claim. So, they’re emphasizing a track buckle-prevention campaign.

The “Heat is On: Success Through Managing Stress” campaign aims to remind employees to take measures to prevent track buckles, especially between April and September when high air temperatures cause track to expand. For every degree the temperature rises, rail pressure can increase by as much 2,000 pounds of force.

As part of the campaign, workers receive periodic voice-mail messages reminding them about important prevention measures, such as inspecting track during the hottest part of the day.

Because there’s no “holy grail” to prevent track buckles, BNSF stresses education, proper procedures and thorough track inspections, said Mike Armstrong, general director of maintenance planning, in a prepared statement.

“Track buckles can occur without visible warning,” he said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 7/18/2006