New Vehicles to Triple Federal Inspections for Rail Track Problems

Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Boardman yesterday announced two new custom-built inspection vehicles with state-of-the-art technology to identify track flaws will triple the amount of track inspected by automated means to nearly 100,000 miles. Using them is part of FRA's National Rail Safety Action Plan, which calls for greater focus on the most frequent, highest-risk causes of train accidents and also optimizing data to target federal inspection and enforcement resources.

"Finding track problems and getting them fixed before a train accident occurs is key to safeguarding communities," Boardman said. These two new vehicles raise FRA's fleet to five, he said. The new ones are the T-19 and T-20; they will be used mainly on high-volume rail lines that carry hazardous materials and passenger trains. They can measure track geometry flaws in real time at operating speed, check whether the rails are level and the width between them is acceptable, and also can determine whether the shape of each rail meets federal standards. All of these help to avoid derailments.

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

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