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100,000 Railroad Ties: Updates on Our Track Reconstruction Work

Updated December 28, 2015 11:00 a.m.

Our extraordinary system-wide track reconstruction effort is paying off, with miles of our railroad being rebuilt over the last two a half years, resulting in a smoother ride and a safer, more reliable service.

Since 2013, we’ve replaced 97,961 ties, laid 16.5 miles of continuous welded rails, rebuilt 88 switches, renewed and/or upgraded 32 railroad crossings, and performed 2,905 welds on joints that connect stretches of track with one another.

The reconstruction work has significantly enhanced the state of our infrastructure and Metro-North is safer today as a result of this concerted increase in track renewal work.

This accomplishment is a team effort requiring the coordination of dispatch operations and the dedication of our employees.

In addition to visual track inspections, which are conducted by employees twice a week, our efforts have made use of a range of high tech inspection equipment and services, including:

  • Track geometry: To measure a variety of geometric parameters of our track, including the position, curvature, alignment, smoothness, and the cross level of the two running rails, we employ track geometry cars operated by the Federal Railroad Administration and Mermec. The cars use a variety of sensors, measuring systems, and data management systems to create a profile of the track being inspected.
  • Internal metal defects and fatigue detection: To detect flaws, defects and metal fatigue inside the steel running rails, we employ the specialized Sperry Rail car, which uses ultrasonic and induction test equipment.
  • Mismatched joint bars: To identify any instances where the end of a rail does not match up precisely with the beginning of the following rail, we have employed the Georgetown Rail Equipment Company’s Aurora System, which makes rail measurements of joint bars that are accurate to within two hundredths of an inch.
  • Track loading: We use a track loading vehicle to give rails a stress test, applying forces close to the strength limits of the rails, track ties, rail fasteners, and stone ballast.
  • Subsurface flaws: We also use ground-penetrating radar to accurately show potential problem areas in the layers below the track’s surface.

If and when any of these inspections and tests identify defects along the rails, crews assess the magnitude of defect and make immediate repairs. For minor defects, institute speed restrictions over selected segments of track until the repairs are made.