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Rail News Home Maintenance Of Way


Rail News: Maintenance Of Way

Equipment/service update: Vegetation management 2023

Vancer offers a variety of hi-rail excavators, including units with brush cutters (shown).
Photo – Vancer


Compiled by Michael Popke


Uncontrolled vegetation can damage tracks and cars, resulting in disrupted rail service. Vancer’s maintenance-of-way equipment is designed to offer the flexibility maintenance crews need to manage vegetation to keep trains running safely and smoothly, company officials said in an email. 

Available in a variety of models to accommodate horsepower needs, the company’s hi-rail excavators enable rail maintenance crews to manage vegetation overgrowth in remote areas. The excavators can be paired with various attachments to remove large branches, trees and brush. 

The mower deck handles grass and weeds, while the drum-style mulching heads cut and grind trees and stumps. A chainsaw attachment with a grapple system enables crews to clear branches quickly; branches can be moved in bulk with a tow cart, company officials said. 

When maneuverability is needed, skid steers and multi-terrain loaders can be outfitted with tools for removing brush, mowing and mulching to clear rail line paths. Additionally, the Huddig 1260 features an articulating center pivot system and can run multiple attachments. 

The company also offers new, used and rental machinery to manage vegetation and other MOW projects.  

RCE Equipment Solutions

RCE Equipment Solutions has expanded its Railavator lineup during the past couple of years.
RCE Equipment Solutions

RE Equipment Solutions offers hi-rail excavators equipped with a brush-cutter head so that brush can be managed in on- or off-track modes. Unlike traditional dedicated on-track brush cutters, RCE’s hi-rail excavator can be used for a wide range of rail maintenance duties, such as removal and installation of ties, undercutting ballast, laying new rail and standard excavation tasks, company officials said.  

During the past couple of years, RCE has expanded its Railavator lineup by offering the 245G and 250G Railavators. The company now provides seven John Deere models: 50G, 85G, 135G, 210G, 245G, 250G and 350G. 

“We have seen an increase in the number of hi-rail excavators going out with brush cutter heads,” company officials said. “We also have an all-makes rail gear package so we can equip Cat, Deere and Komatsu 20-metric-ton excavators with hi rail.” 

Progress Rail

Progress Rail offers the SkyTrim 75G3 Hi-Rail for specialized vegetation control.
Progress Rail

Progress Rail, a Caterpillar company, manufactures a range of heavy-duty Kershaw® equipment for vegetation management. The company’s customers include Class Is and short lines, as well as departments of transportation, utility companies, contractors and municipalities. 

Kershaw machines enable railroads to perform brush clearing, tree trimming and general vegetation control so crews can access track or rights of way quickly and easily, company officials said.  

Progress Rail also offers the SkyTrim 75G3 Hi-Rail for specialized vegetation control, the SkyTrim 75 HRT for rail applications, the Klearway 500HD Industrial Brush Cutter for overgrowth, and the Model 60 On-Track Brush Cutter. 

Developed specifically for railroad applications, the Kershaw SkyTrim 75HRT is an insulated telescopic tree trimmer featuring a hydraulic-driven 24-inch rotary saw blade with 75-foot reach mounted on a hi-rail-equipped 58,000-pound GVW commercial truck chassis.  

The trimmer features an independent air-conditioned cab with joystick controls that operate the chassis and the trimmer while on rail. The HRT can propel down the track in minutes to clear limbs and overgrown brush and then legally self-transport on public highways to the next jobsite, company officials said. 

The Kershaw® Model 60 is a multipurpose machine platform that can be transformed from a heavy-duty snow fighter into a ballast regulator for roadway ballast profiling or heavy-duty track brush cutting. The Model 60 is available with different styles of cutter heads. 

Aspen Equipment  

Aspen’s Creep Drive System offers rail vehicle operators the ability to maintain on-rail travel without leaving their seat.
Aspen Equipment

Aspen Equipment, a division of MGX Equipment Services LLC, works with customers to design and tailor equipment, including material handlers from Serco Loaders and Aspen’s patented Creep Drive System.  

Serco grapple attachments and loaders can be added to hi-rail trucks, allowing for easier removal of brush, vegetation and other debris from around railroad tracks, company officials said. 

Aspen’s Creep Drive System offers rail vehicle operators the ability to maintain on-rail travel without leaving their seat. The system features National Crane boom trucks, tree and landscaping dump bodies and hi-rail vehicle upfits. It also eliminates the need for hydrostatic-driven creep drive systems by communicating directly through OEM engine and transmission channels, company officials said.  

From tree trimming and vegetation maintenance around railways to lot clearing, brush removal, storm damage cleanup and other railroad duties, Aspen supplies customers with new and pre-owned equipment sales, equipment rentals, service and product support from branch locations in Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri and Nebraska. 

K.W. Reese Inc. 

A before and after view: K.W. Reese crews performed tree-trimming and brush removals to re-establish a right of way.
K.W. Reese Inc.

K.W. Reese Inc. offers a range of railroad vegetation management services, including tree trimming and removals, brush cutting and herbicide applications. The company specializes in challenging tree removals, emergency callouts and site preparation for new construction or upgrades, company officials said. 

Crews are available 24/7 to assist railroads in storm restoration or during scheduled work windows.  

In addition, the company has increased its mechanized fleet, adding Jarraff telescopic trimmers and Fecon-equipped skid steer mowers. When performing a project by hand is the only option, the company’s experienced tree trimmers can remove any tree safely and efficiently, K.W. Reese officials added.   

A full fleet of hi-rail equipment is available to finish a job, with woodchippers, dump trucks and log trucks available to remove and dispose of cut material.

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