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Rail News: Maintenance Of Way

CN adds track geometry vehicle to rail inspection equipment arsenal


A new track geometry vehicle is moving across Canadian National Railway Co.’s lines to electronically inspect track curvature and alignment.

The Class I recently took delivery of the self-propelled vehicle, which was produced by Gateway Rail Services Inc. and features a geometry system developed by ENSCO Inc.

Part of CN's Track Evaluation System, or TEST, that’s designed to gather continuous, real-time track condition reports, the vehicle uses high-speed cameras and optical recognition software to detect possible flaws in joint bars that connect rail sections.

Last year, CN conducted geometric testing of about 65,000 miles of track, up 35 percent compared with 2006’s track miles. This year, CN plans to boost testing by 15 percent to 75,000 track miles.

“The acquisition of the new vehicle will permit us to increase the amount of in-house mainline track-geometry testing across our network,” said CN Chief Safety and Transportation Officer Paul Miller in a prepared statement.

CN also employs contractors who operate vehicles with ultrasonic technology to detect internal rail defects that normally can’t be found visually during routine track inspections. This year, CN plans to perform ultrasonic tests on about 145,000 track miles — double the track miles from five years ago.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/28/2008