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When paired, Herzog’s Rail Unloading Machine (RUM) and Automated Tie-Down Car (ATC) offer enhanced efficiencies in the rail unloading process, especially when it comes to safety, productivity and reliability, company officials said.
When the ATC is used in conjunction with the RUM, no human interface with the rail is required, lessening the potential for injury. The RUM is a mobile, road-to-rail distribution system capable of safe, hands-free precision rail placement; the ATC complements the RUM with a safe, automated solution to securing/disconnecting continuous-welded rail (CWR) on the rail train. The ATC clamps/unclamps rail in five to 10 seconds, significantly accelerating CWR loading and unloading compared with conventional tie down cars, company officials said.
Because the RUM is a road-to-rail vehicle, it can “rendezvous” with the ATC and rail train at a specified location with minimal coordination, company officials said. Within five minutes, the RUM mounts onto the track at a crossing and quickly connects to the end of a fully loaded CWR train — simplifying equipment sequencing. The RUM unloads rail to one (or both sides) of the track, curved or tangent, in all weather conditions. Additionally, Herzog technicians handle all scheduled RUM and ATC maintenance and technology upgrades, eliminating maintenance concerns.
Over the past year, L.B. Foster Co. has upgraded the fleet of trains it owns and operates to ship continuous-welded rail (CWR) to railroads and transit agencies throughout North America.
Demand for CWR has stayed strong over the past several years and continues to grow as increased funding becomes available through several different “federal acts,” company officials said.
For track replacement and expansion work, railroads and transit agencies remain committed to transitioning from the use of stick rail — or individual pieces of rail that require joints — to welded or ribbon rail, company officials said, adding that welded rail results in a safer, smoother track requiring less maintenance.
With railroads and transit agencies outsourcing more functions, including offloading rail, L.B. Foster plans to continue meeting demand by offering a range of services, including project management and unloading supervision on every CWR train. L.B. Foster also can furnish full unload crews and equipment when requested to help reduce unloading times to as short as one day — particularly important for customers moving toward precision scheduled railroading, company officials said.
Bringing GREX material handling equipment under the Loram Maintenance of Way Inc. umbrella this year pairs both service offerings into one source for material handling needs, company officials said. Customers now can utilize DumpTrain® material handling cars and the SlotMachine® mobile work platform from one source.
Loram’s DumpTrains can deliver 1,500 tons of material to work sites, stockpiles or washout locations and unload a full consist in under an hour. Offloading is done up to 45 feet from track centerline. The DumpTrain for Curves® offers all the same features as the traditional DumpTrain, but can operate while in curves as well as tangent track.
After introducing the MHC60 material handling car in 2020, Loram secured multiple orders from customers that recognized the value of increased throughput and offloading productivity, company officials said. Material handling cars can self-unload into trailing cars, as well as discharge material into the right of way.
The SlotMachine consists of overlapping gondola cars carrying an excavator that can traverse the full 378-foot length. The arrangement allows for quick and efficient loading and offloading of ties, ballast, rip rap, spoils, rail, scrap metal and “almost anything in the right of way” within reach of the excavator, company officials said.
Loram Technologies also provides equipment and services to upgrade customer-owned ballast cars to improve performance with the latest developments in the GateSync®, HydraDump® and Solaris® products.
Omaha Track Equipment (OTE) now sells, rents and services most makes of heavy construction equipment, including excavators, wheel loaders, dozers, skid steers and attachments. The company also recently started selling CBI Grinders and continues to offer hi-rail maintenance-of-way units and material handlers.
OTE offers rentals on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, with partner company Iron Junction Logistics coordinating shipping and delivery anywhere in the United States, company officials said. OTE also provides service, repairs and inspections in its state-of-the-art shop and at four mobile service trucks.
Plasser American Corp. offers MFS conveyor and hopper cars, which are designed to transport ballast, spoils or other material in train formation to and from work sites. They also work with various machines.
The MFS can transport, store, load and unload material as a single unit or with other like units. Cars are available in multiple sizes, and material storage capacity can be increased by coupling units.
The MFS floor consists of a wide, hydraulically driven variable-speed conveyor belt. The unit’s front carries a rotatable, hydraulically driven conveyor for unloading or transferring material. Each MFS car is individually powered with its own engine, hydraulic supply and electrical system.
When used in collaboration with other machines, MFS cars expand the working capacities and flexibility of the other machines, company officials said. This allows for greater asset utilization and a more efficient, productive use of restricted track time.
The use of MFS cars with any Plasser ballast undercutter/cleaner provides efficient spoil removal with no interruption of the ballast cleaning process, company officials said. Additionally, the cars provide an environmentally safe location for storing undercutter waste for transport to a suitable location for offloading. MFS cars also can be loaded with new/clean ballast that then can be used to feed ballast into the track through a Plasser undercutter.
Railquip Inc. rail-car movers are designed to replace switcher locomotives and switching engines in use anywhere rail-car movement is required (except mainline rail operations, unless for maintenance of way activity). They combine the ease of use of heavy-duty diesel equipment with the capabilities of a rugged locomotive, company officials said. The rail-car movers are designed to utilize steel wheel technology for consistent tractive effort.
The rail-car movers feature Cummins QSL and QSB engines and clean diesel, which reduce fuel consumption. The company says the units results in lowered operational and maintenance costs and are designed for automatic speed control and shutdown. They also are eligible for diesel emissions.
Additionally, a Railquip rail-car mover can travel both on-road using rubber tires and on rail using steel rail wheels, and it can utilize weight transfer technology — increasing tractive effort.
Given an increased demand for compact construction equipment, officials at RCE Equipment Solutions Co. said they’ve seen an uptick in interest in the company’s John Deere 50G, 85G and 135G compact excavators with retractable rail gear. The reduced tail swing helps open up confined or congested areas, and features an independent swing-boom to enable work along curbs and structures, or in traffic.
The compact models also feature an adjustable lower track frame that, when retracted, falls under the legal size for transit without a required permit. In “work” mode, the hydraulically operated frame expands to straddle the track and easily hops on and off, company officials said.
In 2020, RCE released a new series of Railavators hi-rail excavators, including John Deere 210G, 245G and 250G model hi-rail excavators that feature RCE’s new Ultra Life Axles and hydraulic-powered retractable hi-rail. The Ultra Life Axles offer increased axle-bearing capacity, and are rebuildable and repairable.
The new Railavators’ hydraulic system now includes more components in the common manifold, which means fewer hoses, fewer separate components and fewer joints that could leak. The company also updated the Railavator structure, including the hi-rail linkages and supports, to extend support gussets and add weight to the links and frames. The modifications reduce frame flexing and potential cracking, company officials said.
As railroads look to gain production efficiencies and improve employee safety, Vancer offers several material handling equipment solutions.
The CHX13 Hi-Rail with tie inserter attachment is designed to enable operators to complete such projects as tie insertion and tie removal within short maintenance windows, company officials said. It also can operate a line of attachments and specialized tools.
For the CHX35 Hi-Rail excavator, Vancer took the largest compact radius machine available and gave it enhanced productivity, versatility, comfort and ease-of-use, company officials said. Equipped with the Tier 4 final Cat 7.7 ACERT engine, the unit “easily handles tough jobs” such as replacing and maintaining ballast and ties, they said. When paired with the Panel Boss®, the CHX35 operator can place panels where they need to go without a ground crew and chain, company officials said.
Vancer also offers a 35 Yard Ballast Cart designed for distributing and spreading ballast. The cart can be towed at speeds up to 25 mph and includes brakes on all wheels, life points and chains.
Designed to be versatile for multiple railroad service applications, the Speed Swing 445F offers precise hydraulic engineering and ample power to lay rails, set ties and perform numerous other tasks, Pettibone officials said.
Powered by a 163-horsepower Cummins QSB4.5 Tier 4 diesel engine that offers fuel savings up to 10% over the previous model, the 445F features a Dana T20000 3-speed transmission with twist grip electric shift control that delivers exceptional torque. The machine has a front load capacity of 10,000 pounds and side load capacity up to 8,000 pounds.
Operators can move the Speed Swing between jobsites quickly, traveling at 25 mph on hi-rail and 20 mph with all-terrain rubber tires, company officials said. The tires — along with four-wheel drive with a rear wheel disconnect — also allow greater maneuverability off the rails. Four-wheel outboard dry disc service brakes provide sure stopping power.
Providing 180-degree boom rotation, the 445F is primarily used to thread out old rail and thread in new rail. The unit also can tow rail carts, move rail cars and supply air or hydraulics for hand tools.
Michael Popke is a Madison, Wisconsin-based freelance writer. Email comments or questions to prograil@ tradepress.com.