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November 2022

Rail News: MOW

Technology update: Rail welding

The Flash Wizard welder’s modular canopy can be placed on a platform, on a flat car or on the back of a Geismar road-rail truck (shown).
Photo – Geismar North America


Compiled by Michael Popke

Geismar North America 

Geismar North America’s Flash Wizard welder range is designed to facilitate efficient, versatile in-track rail welding in any rail environment. The modular canopy, which houses the advanced welding unit, can be placed on a platform or flat car, or on the back of a Geismar road-rail truck. A version with a rotating rear bogey hi-rail that allows access to short crossings is also available. 

The 3,000-kilonewton/31-ton clamping system ensures an accurate alignment of both rail ends, while the 1,200-kilonewton/120-ton forging force and (optional) integrated weld shear provide high-quality welds, company officials said in an email. Other welding variations are available for specific niches. 

Dedicated software controls all welding operations and analyzes various parameters to ensure optimal weld quality, and an articulated arm holding the welding unit is operated by remote control. The automated process, including forging and flash-butt welding, is completed in under three minutes, company officials said.  

Geismar also offers the Flash Titan flash-butt rail welding machine for mobile welding. 

HAMR™ provides robotically controlled welding procedures to build back damaged areas on frogs and crossing diamonds to “like-new conditions,” Holland officials say.


Holland’s Automated Manganese Refurbishment (HAMR™) is designed to provide robotically controlled welding procedures to build back damaged areas on frogs and crossing diamonds to like-new conditions.  

The service offers several benefits, including higher quality repair with lower porosity than traditional methods and a speed that’s up to three times faster than the manual process, Holland officials said. From a safety aspect, an operator can move away from a passing train on adjacent tracks while the robot builds back material. A complete refurbishment service includes a HAMR weld warranty. 

Short Plug Repair Welding is the newest addition to Holland’s welding portfolio. This flash-butt welding process is designed to provide high-quality, cost-effective defect remediation. With Holland’s short plug repair welding gang, 5-foot plugs are used with two pieces of equipment and require a total of four (railroad and Holland) employees. 

Meanwhile, Holland’s Intelliweld® Control System allows operators to view real-time weld monitoring, control and diagnostic functions.  

Pandrol Advanced welding is a process that includes the High Flow Preheater and the AutoSeal mold.


Pandrol recently introduced Pandrol Advanced welding, a process that includes the High Flow Preheater (HFP) and the AutoSeal mold. The 36-volt HFP is a universal, battery-powered preheating system designed to replace most of the equipment currently used to heat the parent steel prior to welding, Pandrol officials said. 

An aluminothermic welding innovation, AutoSeal molds are designed to streamline the entire welding process. With a built-in felt that expands during the preheating phase of welding, the technology creates a tight seal between the mold and rail, eliminating the need for paste or sand luting while preventing leaks, company officials said.  

The self-sealing molds also facilitate faster welding speeds, enhanced welder ergonomics, increased reliability and reduced waste. 

Progress Rail supplies a range of mobile welding equipment. Shown: a refurbished All Terrain Mobile Welder.
Progress Rail

Progress Rail 

Progress Rail operates two flash-butt welding plants in North America and supplies mobile welding equipment to contractors, freight railroads and transit customers worldwide. Demand for fixed-plant welding has been consistent throughout 2022, company officials said, adding that the international requirement for flash-butt welding equipment has been stable as well. 

Progress Rail also is producing flash-butt welding systems for international markets for use in supporting customers’ development and rehabilitation projects. Machines include All Terrain Mobile Welders (ATMWs) and fully containerized welding systems equipped with destressing weld-heads and integrated shears or the K1045 narrow head for welding turnouts.  

Working with strategic suppliers, Progress Rail also has developed a narrow-head welder for its mobile units. The head can be used with extended boom trucks or AMTWs when welding turnouts and in tight confines.  

The Narrow-Head Flash Butt Welder is tall and narrow, requiring only 8.5 inches of clearance from the adjacent rail or fixed object. It enables a flash-butt weld to be completed inside a turnout in transit areas, where “flash-butt welds were impossible in the past,” company officials said. In addition, Progress Rail is rehabilitating several ATMWs that will support contractors working in Australia. 

RailWorks manages a fleet of more than 40 specialized mobile welding trucks, including this flash-butt welding truck.
RailWorks Corp.

RailWorks Corp. 

RailWorks Corp. offers complete turnkey services for joint elimination work, rail gang work, cut-and-slide rail projects and new construction.  

The company manages a fleet of more than 40 specialized mobile welding trucks that consist of AC and DC welders, and two narrow-head welders that can perform in the most difficult work scenarios, company officials said.  

The units feature an array of quality-assurance features designed to help maintain high standards, including an automated weld cycle that does not require operator input, and a range of rail preparation equipment. The units are powered by a purpose-built control system that can be paired with predictive forging force and weld variance tracking.  

“A healthy track system is the sum of many parts, and even a small issue can become a systemic detractor, cutting into costs, efficiency and service delivery,” said Jacob Alexander, the company’s director of operations. “By RailWorks including flash welding services as part of our MOW suite, we ensure track owners receive optimal operations with this comprehensive maintenance package.”

Michael Popke is a Madison, Wisconsin-based freelance writer. Email comments or questions to 

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