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Rail News Home Maintenance Of Way


Rail News: Maintenance Of Way

Break out the blitzes: BNSF, CSXT schedule time-compacted track-maintenance projects


Two Class Is are ready to tackle major maintenance-of-way projects in the most operationally friendly way — a track-maintenance blitz.

Blitzes are designed to minimize traffic delays and train re-routes by condensing MOW work that might ordinarily take months to complete into days.

Today, Burlington Northern Santa Fe plans to begin a 14-day, $16.5 million blitz on its Bakersfield-to-Fresno, Calif., mainline. The project includes replacing 12 track miles of rail, installing 38,250 wood ties and three switches, undercutting 47,520 feet of track, and upgrading one bridge and 18 crossings. BNSF plans to assign 300 additional employees from various parts of the railroad to the project.

Each day of the blitz, the Class I expects to operate a limited number of trains on the line for 14 hours, as well as re-route trains on Union Pacific Railroad's lines.

In about two months, it'll also be blitz time for CSX Transportation. From March 15-19, the Class I plans to conduct a track-maintenance "Jamboree" on its Montgomery, Ala.-to-New Orleans mainline.

Covering more than 54 track miles, the project will involve 15 tie and rail gangs — comprising more than 800 employees — working in 24-hour shifts. Work includes replacing or refurbishing 75,000 ties, 18.5 miles of rail, and several embankments and shoulders.

If performed under typical MOW procedures, the project would disrupt the line's traffic for 15 weeks, according to a prepared statement.

CSXT does not plan to re-route traffic during the Jamboree; the railroad expects to continue running trains between Brewton, Ala., and Pensacola, Fla., and resume normal service March 22.

In 1999, a CSXT machine operator coined the term "Jamboree" during a smaller-scale track-maintenance project on the railroad's Chicago-to-Evanston, Ind., line. Since then, the Class I has conducted several Jamborees each year, including a large-scale project in early July.

Last year, CSXT conducted a four-day Jamboree in March to rehabilitate mainlines between Mobile, Ala., and New Orleans, and Flomaton and Montgomery, Ala.; and an eight-day Jamboree in July to improve more than 300 track miles in parts of Tennessee, Virginia, and North and South Carolina. Involving more than 1,200 employees, the July project was CSXT's largest-ever Jamboree.