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Rail News Home MOW

December 2021

Rail News: MOW

Technology update: Hi-rail equipment

Brandt offers an array of hi-rail equipment, including a hi-rail loader (shown).
Photo – Brandt Road Rail


Compiled by Michael Popke

Brandt Road Rail

Brandt Road Rail designs and manufactures heavy-duty hi-rail equipment “purpose-built for maximum on-track safety,” reliability and productivity, company officials said in an email. For example, the highway-capable R4 power unit delivers 50,000 pounds of tractive effort in multiple configurations and is “the only highway-capable switching unit in the world,” according to Brandt’s website.

The company also offers a hi-rail loader that can rapidly adapt to tasks, a versatile backhoe loader that serves as both an excavator and wheel loader, and hi-rail excavators that can be used in a variety of projects. The Brandt engineering team also can customize hi-rail packages for John Deere base equipment. Other equipment features include spacious cabs with strategically placed controls for proper sightlines and high-visibility couplers to connect attachments quickly.

Designed for easy maintenance and serviceability, Brandt’s hi-rail equipment is supported by 56 locations across Canada and around the world, company officials said. Brandt also offers a 24/7/365 customer support center staffed by specialists.

Cahaba’s versatile CTX33 can be used to move multiple rail cars, use a hydraulic or pneumatic tool, or perform standard trackwork.
Cahaba Truck & Equipment Inc.

Cahaba Truck & Equipment Inc.

The Cahaba CTX33 offers “extreme versatility” — whether moving multiple rail cars, using a hydraulic or pneumatic tool, or performing standard trackwork, company officials said. The maintenance truck also is equipped with a rail car coupler and train air system for moving rail cars, plus a hydraulic tool circuit capable of running 5- to 10-GPM tools.

Cahaba uses a remote drive system, a hydraulic cooling system and onboard diagnostic tools “to keep equipment in the field and out of the shop,” company officials said. Cahaba’s “continued dedication to quality and efficiency” has helped its customers reduce fleet maintenance costs on high-profile components, they added.

Special configurations such as the Ford F-550 (shown) can be made with under-cab rail gear to negotiate tighter curves found on many transit systems, Mitchell Rail Gear officials said.
Mitchell Rail Gear

Mitchell Rail Gear

Increasingly focused on safety, customers are requesting safety locks for rail gear that can be remotely locked and unlocked with pins, Mitchell Rail Gear officials said. Demand for improved ride quality in both light- and heavy-duty trucks is increasing, too, they believe.

For light duty, Mitchell offers independently tested Road Rail aluminum wheels designed to deliver a ride comparable to a standard truck. Meanwhile, Mitchell’s independent hi-rail gear Flexiride® Suspension provides an improved ride on and off rail. For heavy-duty trucks, adding hydraulic suspension to the rear hi-rail gear self-compensates for uneven track and offers a less bouncy ride on rail.

Special configurations — such as the Ford F-550 — can be made with under-cab rail gear to negotiate tighter curves found on many transit systems. Mitchell’s rail gear system for Ford F-550 trucks fits around the standard rear fuel tank and incorporates a reinforcement to add on a truck-frame extension for auxiliary equipment. The company also offers Epicyclic hi-rail gear for the Ford F-550 to navigate a narrow-gauge track system. With the Epicyclic Friction Drive, the truck can travel on rail up to 45 mph.

Omaha Track’s custom heavy-duty hi-rail carts are designed to handle rail and ties.
Omaha Track Equipment.

Omaha Track Equipment

Omaha Track Equipment’s custom heavy-duty hi-rail carts are designed to handle rail and ties. Lighter in weight with higher capacity than previous iterations, the rugged carts are hauled to and from work sites using a material-handling truck with a minimum 20-foot-long bed, company officials said. An onboard crane places the carts on the track.

Omaha Track offers two carts — one designed to haul rail and the other to transport ties. Both come equipped with insulated flanged guide wheels; each wheel has integral air actuated brakes. The rail cart has a 12-foot-long detachable pintle tongue extension, allowing the handling of full “sticks” of rail, company officials. The bunks are six feet wide by two feet high.

The tie cart has a four-foot long detachable pintle tongue extension and incorporates eight-foot-high removable stands on each unit end. The curb weight of the rail cart and tie cart are 4,000 pounds and 5,000 pounds, respectively.

The company also offers rotary dump trucks equipped with a 14-foot dump body (and a capacity of 12 cubic yards), roll-up tarps and manual or hydraulic rail dogs. Hi-rail pickups are offered in a variety of configurations.

Last year, RCE unveiled its New Series 210G, 245G and 250G Railavators, which feature the company’s new Ultra Life Axles.
RCE Equipment Solutions

RCE Equipment Solutions

RCE Equipment Solutions’ product portfolio includes the Railavator, a hi-rail excavator that pulls rail, cuts brush, allows crane access, undercuts, tamps ties, and digs and trenches.

In 2020, RCE unveiled its New Series 210G, 245G and 250G Railavators, which feature the company’s new Ultra Life Axles. The final drives are made of high-strength alloy steel, offer increased axle bearing capacity, and are rebuildable and repairable, company officials said. The Ultra Life Axles have a three-year/unlimited-hours warranty. The New Series Railavators also include a range of design enhancements, such as a new hydraulic system.

The RCE team also has updated the Railavator structure, including the high rail linkages and supports, extending support gussets and adding weight to the links and frames. The modifications reduce frame flexing and potential cracking, company officials said. The main drive frame is aligned in all axes for drive components, and the drive axle mounting has been changed to improve strength and durability. The updated rotary manifold has a higher-pressure rating and longer life, and the intuitive push-button monitor controls the hi rail and all available attachments from inside the cab.

The full Railavator product line comprises seven models. Sixteen attachments are available, including undercutter bars, brush cutters, grapples, buckets, magnets and several cart designs.

Shown: a Vancer CHX25 hi-rail excavator with a ballast cribber attachment.


Vancer’s hi-rail equipment offerings — including the 161-horsepower CHX25 Hi-Rail Excavator — are designed to help Class Is, short lines and contractors keep their operations “on target for key maintenance projects,” company officials said. The CHX25 features a hydraulically powered hi-rail gear undercarriage with multiple tool carrier functionality.

Vancer’s hi-rail equipment is engineered to easily move on and off rail lines, and is versatile enough to enable operators to undercut, trench, tie insert, tamp and more, company officials said.

The equipment’s custom-engineered safety features are designed to enable operators and railroad crews to operate equipment safely and more easily access machine components for service.

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

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.