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Part 1 : MOW Spending Report: Railway systems to undergo many improvements in 2013
Part 2 : MOW Spending Report: Large railroads lay out 2013 infrastructure programs
Part 3 : MOW Spending Report: Small railroads share 2013 infrastructure plans
Part 4 : MOW Spending Report: Transit rail providers target 2013 infrastructure goals
— by Jeff Stagl, Managing Editor
After a two-year hiatus, the Maintenance of Way Spending Report is back in the magazine. In 2011 and 2012, the report was compiled as a separate publication.
This year's iteration — essentially, Progressive Railroading's 12th annual MOW spending report — includes information from eight Class Is, 35 regionals and short lines, and 22 passenger railroads. Most of the info was generated by our annual MOW survey, while some came from documents provided by certain railroads or presentations held at the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association Inc.'s annual conference in early January.
Of the 52 railroads that provided MOW budget figures for both 2013 and 2012, 36 plan to spend more this year and six expect to spend the same amount as last year. All told, billions of dollars will be allocated for various MOW initiatives, ranging from double-track projects to bridge replacements to station modifications.
But getting all the planned work accomplished by year's end means overcoming a few hurdles, including a recurring one: tight work windows.
Canadian Pacific and CSX Corp. are trying something new this year to address them. CP has extended work blocks from five hours to eight hours and CSX has implemented a process on double mainlines that calls for performing work on one line over four straight days.
In the short-line sector, the Reading, Blue Mountain & Northern Railroad made a change in 2012 that's expected to pay more dividends this year: better interaction between the operating and MOW departments to prioritize work items.
Historically, most necessary repairs cited by the railroad's train crews were added to a list of MOW work and then addressed as time permitted. Now, the two departments hammer out what items need to be addressed immediately versus tasks that can be done when gangs are in the area.
In the passenger-rail realm, MTA New York City Transit (NYCT) continues to rely on the FASTRACK Program — which calls for maintenance work in tunnels and stations and on tracks to be performed on four straight weeknights — and other methods to deal with narrow windows.
"There are many stakeholders — track maintenance, capital programs and contractors, to name a few —
vying for the same real estate to perform work, in addition to [us] maintaining an operating transit system for 5 million riders daily," NYCT officials wrote in their submitted survey.
Click on parts 2 through 4 of the spending report to view breakdowns of work planned by freight and passenger roads, which provide an idea of just how crammed their right of ways might get at various points in 2013.