FRA Launches Two New Automated Inspection Vehicles to Detect Track Flaws; 100,000 Miles of Track to be Federally Inspected Each Year

WASHINGTON — Two new custom-built inspection vehicles equipped with state of the art technology to help identify track flaws that could lead to train derailments are now in service and will allow the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to triple the amount of track it inspects each year by automated means to nearly 100,000 miles, announced FRA Administrator Joseph H. Boardman.

“Finding track problems and getting them fixed before a train accident occurs is key to safeguarding communities,” Boardman said.

Boardman explained that the new automated track inspection vehicles increase the FRA’s fleet to five and are primarily used on high-volume rail lines that carry hazardous materials and passenger trains. They also will allow FRA to more quickly respond and evaluate routes where the track safety performance of a railroad is substandard.

The new vehicles, known as the T-19 and the T-20, use a variety of technology to measure track geometry flaws such as whether two rails are level, if the width between the rails is acceptable, and if the shape of each rail meets federal standards to avoid derailments. The measurements are recorded in real-time and at operating speed. Problem areas are identified by global positioning system (GPS) location and shared immediately with the railroad so appropriate corrective actions can be taken in a timely manner, Boardman stressed.

Between now and the end of June, the T-19 is scheduled to inspect track in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. The T-20 will be in Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Oregon and Washington.

Boardman said that acquiring and deploying the T-19 and T-20 is a major component of the FRA National Rail Safety Action Plan, which focuses on the most frequent, highest-risk causes of train accidents; optimizes the use of data to target federal inspection and enforcement resources; and accelerates research initiatives that hold promise to mitigate the greatest potential safety risks.

— Special to News Wire