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Despite headwinds from COVID-19 that have resulted in some project delays, L.B. Foster Co. has garnered a number of new opportunities for its CXT® concrete ties this year, company officials said in an email. They also continue to implement programs internally designed to boost product quality and performance.
“Quoting activity has been strong over the summer months, especially for industrial and transit projects,” said Vince Petersen, engineering manager. “Transit agency demand in Canada and the West Coast remains solid along with port work up and down the Pacific Coast. We have also seen a number of smaller-scale track and station upgrades that have required a lot of engineering engagement for our specialty ties.”
The company’s engineering team remains “directed toward research programs to advance more sustainable materials and designs, as well as to optimize product properties through improvements in concrete mix design,” Petersen added. “We also continue to drive quality enhancements and improvement from our implementation of the more rigorous and newest ISO 9001:2015 standards.”
Looking ahead, demand for concrete ties appears strong due to several high-speed rail projects and renewed Class I interest, he said.
American TieTek’s engineered composite crossties, switch ties, bridge ties and custom products are available exclusively through LT Resources Inc.
The TieTek® tie is the only AREMA standard engineered polymer composite tie to perform without failure between 2000 and 2015 at Transportation Technology Center Inc.’s FAST high-tonnage loop track, accumulating over 2 billion gross tons, company officials said in an email. Installed five years ago for testing in FAST’s most recent round of testing, the TieTek ties continue to perform well, they added.
The TieTek tie has been installed in revenue service in a variety of applications for Class Is, transits, short lines, ports and industries, including high-decay areas of the southeastern United States, and other severe environments such as tunnels, bridges, bridge approaches and grade crossings, LT Resources officials said.
Manufactured using premium recycled materials to provide superior performance and extended service life in severe environments, TieTek ties are resistant to insects, fungi, moisture, harsh environmental conditions and rail-seat abrasion.
This year, installations of Evertrak 7000 glass fiber reinforced composite ties have exceeded 300 MGT “with no exceptions,” and Class I, transit and short-line customers are ramping up installations through 2020 and into 2021, Evertrak LLC officials said in an email. Customer feedback has been positive, they added.
“Our customers demand a composite tie that not only resists decay and rail seat abrasion, but holds gauge for 50 to 100 years,” said Evertrak President Matt Moore. “Evertrak is building trust with every installation that our strength and stiffness, equivalent to new hardwood, will hold the track together for many decades, through rail renewal, undercutting, floods, droughts, and all the environmental extremes that railroads experience.”
The company also is working with insurance and finance specialists to offer insurance and capital leasing options to customers, Moore said.
NARSTCO supplied more than 12,000 steel ties and 16 steel turnout sets for A&R Logistics’ plastic transload facility in Berkeley County, South Carolina, company officials said in an email. The site will be served by CSX.
“As part of our state-of-the art facility in Charleston, we chose steel ties for our rail infrastructure,” said A&R Logistics Senior Vice President, Chief Strategy & Legal Officer Alex Buck. “Steel ties are easier and faster to install, have a longer life and reduced maintenance compared to wood, and help our commitment to sustainability because they are recyclable.”
Steel ties can be used in a variety of applications and can be customized to meet customer needs, NARSTCO officials said. Based on installations currently in service, steel ties can have a service life of more than 50 years, reducing track maintenance requirements relative to alternative products. Steel ties also are “less expensive to handle and transport,” easy to install, last longer and require less ballast, which reduces overall costs, they added.
In addition to its concrete turnout and standard specialty tie manufacturing capabilities at its Cheyenne, Wyoming, plant, voestalpine Railway Systems Nortrak now offers switch machines, condition monitoring systems and rail fasteners.
“We focus on producing only the highest quality concrete and are committed to designing and producing products that solve challenging customer problems,” Steve Mattson, technical manager of Nortrak Rail Fixation Systems, said in an email.
The company introduced the patented Keyway Concrete Tie System, which features a combination of concrete manufacturing technology and advanced rail fastening design to “achieve a product that delivers the strength benefits of concrete ties with the comparable size of a wood tie,” Nortrak officials said.
“The Keyway Tie is a direct replacement for wood ties, with the added benefits of stronger gauge holding, reduced ballast pressure, consistent track modulus, all in an environmentally friendly and 100 percent recyclable package,” said Vice President Rail Fixation Systems John Strout. “[The system] allows random interspersement with wood ties using traditional MOW equipment and incremental conversion to concrete tie track while increasing the life of adjacent wood ties.”
During the past year, Vossloh Tie Technologies (VTT)/Rocla Concrete Tie has completed the commissioning of a new concrete tie plant in Canada, which offers Class I, transit and industrial products to the Canadian market. The new facility has the potential to produce more than 250,000 concrete ties per year and offers “significant logistics advantages” to Canadian customers to manage their ongoing concrete tie programs, VTT officials said in an email.
The company offers the MRT Gen3 concrete maintenance replacement tie, which is designed to be interspersed with wood ties without the need to replace the entire wood track in one maintenance cycle. Made with VTT’s “newest manufacturing technology,” the MRT Gen3 Concrete tie features enhancements to both the concrete tie and integrated fastening system. The new tie provides “the highest ability to absorb the vertical deflection of rail,” a result of the poor performance and track stability of wood tie track, company officials said. In-track trials with multiple customers have been ongoing, and the tie will be available beginning in 2021, they added.
VTT also offers Under Tie Pads (UTPs). In initial testing, concrete ties paired with UTPs have shown to “drastically expand on the already exceptional lifecycle cost” of the ties, officials said.
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