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In response to the increased demand for special trackwork from Class I and regional railroads, Atlantic Track has significantly expanded its production capabilities and capacity by adding new machinery and equipment at its two main trackwork plants in Richmond, Ill., and Memphis, Tenn., according to the company.
"While our focus is to expand capacity to meet increased demand for frogs, guard rails, switch points and turnouts, Atlantic Track remains committed to the engineering and production of site-specific trackwork in smaller quantities," the company says.
Not every special trackwork requirement is addressed within a set of standard plans, and "the ability to offer non-plan, engineered solutions has become more difficult for the high-volume trackwork supplier," the company says. "Because of our size and experience, especially in engineering and manufacturing, Atlantic Track can provide both mass produced and one-of-a-kind special trackwork materials," including the non-standard 7-7-12 lap switch with updated geometry to accommodate longer-length switch alignment, the company adds.
In North America, L.B. Foster Co. markets the Tracksure™ range of patented nut locking devices. Used in a variety of special trackwork applications such as large diamond crossings, the devices prevent nut loosening caused by vibration and settlement.
The Tracksure bolt is suitable for OEM applications and, in certain cases, retrofitting to existing track, the company says. The locking device consists of a modified bolt with a reverse thread added to the end, which accommodates both the original nut and the Tracksure locking nut. This locking nut is applied to the reverse thread until it tightens against the original nut. A serrated steel locking cap then pushes down over both the original nut and the Tracksure nut, held in place with a spring clip. If the original nut starts to loosen even microscopically, the locking nut tightens on the reverse thread with the locking cover combining both actions, ensuring a fail-safe bolt fixing, the company says.
The Tracksure bolt does not require expensive capital equipment to install and offers significant benefits in maintenance-intensive and safety-critical applications — it secures the joint more effectively, reducing railroad downtime, and can be serviced quickly and simply where necessary, the company says.
Cleveland Track Material (Vossloh North America) has developed a variety of Extended Machine Gage Plate Sets for several railroads, including Class Is. These gage plate sets were originally developed to eliminate the use of separately spiked mounting plates, then referred to as Kentucky Plates. The result is a more secure mounting that is adapted to fit a wide variety of track alignments (RH, LH, and Equilateral configurations) for various machines and stands, says Cleveland Track Material (CTM) R&D Product Manager James Remington.
CTM has begun providing Extended Machine Gage Plate Sets pre-mounted to headblock ties, furnished with the tie straps and brace assemblies; the plate sets are available as loose plates for field applications. The preset mounting holes for the various throwing mechanisms provide a standardization in the field to ensure fit and function, and also can be configured for manual packages furnished with connecting rods, Remington says. Extended Machine Gage Plate Sets Can be designed to suit existing turnouts or customized to suit new requirements, he adds.
Progress Rail Services Corp., a Caterpillar company, manufactures special trackwork, including turnouts, crossing diamonds and maintenance trackwork for the railroad, transit and industrial markets.
Over 5,000 grade crossing diamonds — which represent the highest maintenance cost component in track — are in place in North America, the company says. Progress Rail Progress Rail designed and developed the full flange bearing diamond, which eliminates wheel tread contact at the flange way opening that creates high impact, leading to accelerated maintenance cost and eventual replacement of the castings and subcomponents.
The first Progress Rail full flange bearing diamond was installed in Class I service in 2008; today, eight are in service, and additional installations are planned in 2015. Designed for speeds up to 60 mph in mainline Class I service, the full flange bearing diamond significantly reduces the impacts associated with conventional crossing designs and also aides in maintaining the track surface and mechanical equipment, the company says.
To improve the existing design of crossing diamonds, the Progress Rail engineering team is working closely with the Caterpillar Inc. Advanced Material Group in Peoria, Ill., to develop and test additional flange bearing materials that can reduce overall lifecycle costs.
UNITRAC Railroad Materials Inc. is a quality-certified company that specializes in the manufacture and distribution of railroad trackwork and specialty trackwork solutions.
The company is taking measures to increase manufacturing efficiencies and production capacity on specialized trackwork as part of a new strategic focus on trackwork for transit, freight and industrial markets.
"In recent years, UNITRAC has seen increased demand for quality trackwork products and we are taking significant steps to offer a more streamlined and optimized process to our specialty trackwork offerings," says UNITRAC President Phil Pietrandrea. "Our customers continue to seek the best possible lead times for trackwork, and this strategic realignment will allow us to become a more lean and efficient manufacturer of special trackwork products and solutions for our customers, and better meet their demands."
UNITRAC offers comprehensive trackwork solutions, including a dedicated staff of in-house engineers. The company's "experienced professionals work to tailor solutions that fit the specification, sourcing and quality needs for trackwork projects of all sizes," the company says. UNITRAC provides special trackwork products according to AREMA, Class I and other industry-related specifications.
"We are excited about our new direction and will continue to offer quality trackwork products as well as focus on new products, such as a new frog design that we will launch sometime in the near future," Pietrandrea says.
The company introduced the moveable point frog (MPF) to the North American freight market 25 years ago. Since then, the MPF has exhibited "extraordinary performance" in the continent's most critical heavy-haul routes, the company says. The effective service life of Nortrak's MPF frogs has been shown to approach that of parent rail.
Now, voestalpine Nortrak plans to introduce its next generation MPF: the MPF-TW. Developed in collaboration with Nortrak's Australian and European sister companies specifically for operating environments with axle loads greater than 40 tons, and more robust than its predecessors, the MPF-TW retains the same functional features that made the original MPF so successful: reliability, long service life, low maintenance requirements, superior ride quality and reduced noise, the company says. Design details ensure that the point assembly of the new MPF-TW is torsionally stiff and all interfaces with drive systems are secure.
Company officials believe the MPF-TW — which also offers the advantage of full "Buy America" compliance — will "prove [to be] an attractive alternative for railroads looking to improve operating characteristics and lifecycle costs."
— Compiled by Pat Foran, editor