Serving the Track Maintenance needs of the Midwest since 1987
Mark Robak
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Tim Starostka
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Pat Phillips
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rail maintenance
Blog

8 Factors to consider when Hiring a Railroad Maintenance Company

If you’re in the railroad industry, you know how important it is to have safe, efficient tracks. To achieve this, maintenance must be performed regularly to ensure that there are no problems that can lead to derailments. For this reason, it’s crucial that you work with a team like ours at R&S Track Inc, to help you with these repairs and inspections. Here are factors to consider when hiring a railroad maintenance company.

1-Certification and License

When hiring a railroad maintenance company, the first thing you should check is whether they are certified and licensed. This ensures that they have the necessary qualifications to do the job. Furthermore, make sure that the company is insured and bonded. This protects you from any financial damages that may occur should something go wrong.

2-Where It’s Located

The next factor you should consider when hiring a railroad maintenance company is where it’s located. After all, you want a company that’s close enough to your railroads so that they can easily and quickly get to them in case of an emergency. Plus, a local company will be more familiar with the area and the specific challenges that come with maintaining railroads in that region. 

3-What Type of Equipment They Use 

Another important factor to consider is what type of equipment the company uses. After all, you want a company that has the latest and greatest equipment so that they can properly maintain your railroads. That way, there won’t be any hiccups that result in delays or disruptions for your customers. You also want to make sure that the company uses safe practices while working on these delicate pieces of machinery. That way, they won’t damage anything else while they work on fixing something that needs fixing!

4-How Long They Have Been in Business

One important factor you should consider when hiring a railroad maintenance company is how long they have been in business. A company that has been around for a while is likely to be more experienced and therefore better equipped to handle your needs. 

You want to make sure that the company you hire has a wealth of experience in the industry. This way, you can be confident that they’ll be able to handle any issue that may come up. Do they have experience with your type of railroad? What size crews do they typically work with? All of these factors can impact the quality of their work. For example, if they’re not used to working on your type of railroad or your crew is larger than what they usually deal with, this could lead to poor service and delays in finishing the job.

5-How Many Employees They Have

Another factor to consider is how many employees the company has. A larger company is likely to have more resources and be able to handle more work, while a smaller company may be more personal and provide more individualized attention. The number of crew members a company has can also be indicative of their experience level. If a company has a large team, it’s likely because they’ve been in the business for a while and have taken on big projects.

6-Can They Handle the Job?

You’ll want to consider when the company will be able to do the job. If you need it done urgently, then you’ll obviously want to prioritize companies that can do the job more quickly. But if you have some flexibility, then you can look at other factors as well. The size of the company is also something to consider. A large company may have more resources and be able to get the job done faster, but it may also charge more. A smaller company may be more affordable, but it may not have the same resources available.

7-Highly Trained Staff

You want to be sure that the company you hire has highly trained staff. This is important because they will be the ones working on your railroad tracks. You want to be sure that they know what they’re doing and that they’re able to do it safely. Make sure that the company you hire has trained staff with experience working on railroad tracks.

8-The Company’s Safety Record 

Another important factor to consider is the company’s safety record. This is vital because you want to be sure that the company you hire is safe and that their employees are safe. You can check the company’s safety record by looking up their OSHA statistics.

Hiring a Railroad Maintenance Company: R&S Track Inc

There are many factors to consider when hiring a railroad maintenance company. But by keeping these eight factors in mind, you can be sure to find the right company for your needs. 

With the right partner, you can keep your railroad running smoothly for years to come. RS Track is a leading Midwest railroad track contractor. We are OSHA compliant, certified, and have been serving the maintenance needs of Midwest railroads since 1987.  Contact us today for all your railroad maintenance needs!

benefits of a railroad
Architecture & Building, Blog

Modern Benefits of a Railroad in the Midwest

Here’s a look at why a Midwest railroad contractor will stand by railroads for freight in this modern age, despite the countless contemporary alternatives. Some of the greatest inventions to come out of our collective history are still heavily relied upon today. Consider the wheel, which has not only defined transport but has also gone on to play a huge role in engineering. Ever reliant upon them today are the trains that span Midwestern America, which in themselves are a vital invention in our country’s history. These hulking machines have not only stood the test of time but still offer some unique advantages over other forms of freight transport. Here are the modern benefits of a railroad in the Midwest.

The Fate of Freight

Understanding how rail freight can be better than other forms of freight transport takes a look at how freight has evolved in recent years. The amount of businesses operating in our great nation nowadays is relatively astounding, with many existing solely online and operating from warehouses.

Prompt Expectations

The advent of online shopping has changed not only how we purchase goods during a global crisis like a pandemic but also our general shopping habits. It’s no surprise that freight has also had to adapt, with demand for the prompt delivery of all manner of consumer goods becoming a standard.

Shipping on a Shoestring

The cost of freight is a major consideration, especially for those companies whose profit margins are reliant on high product turnover. However, other costs have taken precedence in recent years too.

Overnight Delight

Many major businesses are transitioning their operations to a digital storefront, to save on countless costs. While this has its benefits for consumers and suppliers alike, there is a downside that has led to the prompt expectations of modern customers.

Once upon a time to buy your desired product, you would go to your local store and purchase one either to be taken home that day, later that week or to be sent out thereafter. This involved a lot of human interaction, which would have acted as a buffer for concerns around how long it might take to receive.

Nowadays, going online shopping, we aren’t faced with any friendly faces of customer service representatives wishing to ease our minds. This has made people more demanding when it comes to shipping times, so freight companies have adapted to acting fast and delivering efficiently.

Benefits of a Railroad in the Midwest

Ask any Midwest railroad contractor their preferred way of traveling across these great states, and they’ll almost always tell you it’s hitching a ride on one of the many trains. This isn’t just because of the scenery, though; Midwestern roads are notorious for delays, accidents, closures, and construction.

So while trucks have proven adept at moving goods quickly across borders, they are quickly slowed by these common issues, which can keep your goods from getting to their final destination within the deadline.

Counting Costs

It doesn’t take an economist to understand how shipping things in bulk tends to be cheaper than shipping individually. Although when it comes to shipping bulk loads of any product, it starts to get big and heavy pretty fast.

As previously mentioned, those companies that rely on a thin profit margin on each product need to find ways to move large amounts quickly while minimizing costs. The best way to do this is by shipping as much as possible at once, sometimes amounting to several tons.

All Gas No Breaks

A year ago today, shipping via a fleet of trucks may have had a comparable cost to shipping via a rail freight network. Although due to global events, the cost of gas has skyrocketed to a monumental level, making trucks financially cumbersome overnight.

While most trains rely on the same diesel fuel that trucks rely on, the way that each uses the gas is quite different. A modern locomotive is around 10 times more fuel efficient than a truck and can carry a ton of goods 480 miles (ca. 772 km) on just one gallon of fuel.

Environmental Costs

Arguably as important as the financial cost is, the environmental cost of our actions on this planet has gained more attention in recent years. Finding ways to enact our businesses while minimizing or mitigating harm can ensure that there’s still a planet and resources for future generations.

Although both rely on diesel, the fuel efficiency of trains is not only a financial incentive but also an environmental one. The benefits of a railroad also tend to be a lot more linear than roads, only requiring a thin strip of tracks rather than spiderwebbed networks across states and counties.

Support your Local Midwest Railroad Contractor

Here at R & S Track, we know that railroads have not only existed in the Midwest for centuries, but they played a major role in the development of our country. If you’re considering buying, developing, or repairing railroads here, be sure to contact us to speak with a Midwest railroad contractor who can help guide your decisions. There are many benefits of a railroad and our team can help you create the dream railroad.

Be sure to check out our gallery to see some of our work; otherwise, contact us today for any additional inquires.

railroad replacement
Architecture & Building, Blog

How Often Do Railroad Tracks Need to Be Replaced & Tips for Track Maintenance

The weight of a train exerts a constant substantial force on the railroad tracks. Environmental factors also have an impact on the health of the tracks. Over a period of time, many damages occur which cause the railway tracks to become unusable, unusable, and in need of railroad replacement or maintenance. 

The most common damages which will require a Midwest railroad contractor to replace your railroad tracks include:

  • Rail Creep: When the wheels of a train run along the tracks or rails, they generate various forces e.g. vertical force, longitudinal horizontal force, and lateral force. The longitudinal force is what causes the rails or tracks to move along the sleepers. It’s what’s called a rail creep. The outcome of creeping in rails is typically an unequal size of space between railway tracks, and in extreme circumstances, dislocation of the rails themselves. As such, the sleeper can also experience skewing, which will result in significant damage to the line, which will then lead to a weak rail structure and will put the safety of the track at risk. 
  • Rail Damage: Uneven surfaces along the rails are the primary indicators that there is damage to the rails. The changes in dimensions and conditions of a track are often caused by poor railroad quality, construction deviation, design errors, and wheel-rail effects e.g. vehicle load, crawling, and speed. 
  • Joint Damage: Rail joints are important as they hold together a rail or track’s adjoining ends in the proper position both in vertical and horizontal planes. It’s the weakest component of a railroad track, which is why it’s also prone to damage. 
  • Ballast Degradation: The force of an axle load causes the ballast to deteriorate, and fines fill the spaces that are created when the stones of the ballast are displaced. The fines accumulate mostly underneath the sleepers which begin to do so at the formation surface and work their way down towards the base or foot of the sleepers. The condition known as fine-contaminated ballast develops when the layer of ballast becomes polluted with fines that originate from a variety of sources. The performance of the ballast can be diminished from fine contamination. It will impede drainage, decrease track stiffness, and increase track settlement.

All these require the expertise of a seasoned Midwest railroad replacement contractor to resolve. Damages to railway lines not only disrupt the normal operations of trains but also put passengers’ lives at risk. It is crucial to examine, establish, and implement railway track maintenance systems in order to ensure good railway track conditions. 

Maintaining railway tracks with the help of a Midwest railroad contractor can also prevent economic losses which are caused by the disrepair of railway tracks. Regular railway track maintenance can further extend a track’s service life and ensure that all components are in good running condition.

Tips for Railroad Replacement & Maintaining Railway Tracks

There are different methods to maintain the condition of railway tracks and prolong their service life. 

The proven and tested ways include:

Allocate Resources for Rail Grinding

Grinding the rails is widely regarded as the single most cost-efficient and effective preventative maintenance procedure for minimizing the negative effects of the rolling contact fatigue, for profile restoration, and for getting the most value out of the rail asset.

Rail grinding done by a Midwest railroad replacement contractor can extend the life of rails, offer fuel savings, reduce surfacing cycles, extend the service life of component tracks, increase axle loads, increase train speeds, and improve passenger comfort and ride quality.

Schedule Routine Rail Replacement

When properly maintained by a Midwest railroad contractor, a modern running track has the potential to last for almost 30 years after its construction. 

It may be difficult to recognize the signs of deterioration in rails because they appear to last an entire lifetime. However, it’s possible that facility maintenance staff could miss some of the subtle cues that indicate rail replacement is overdue. 

This is why it is good practice to schedule a rail replacement after 20 to 30 years rather than waiting until issues arise.

Perform Ballast Injection

Ballast offers the railway sleepers a bed that is leveled out, as well as sufficient support. The weight is transferred from the sleepers in order to subgrade and evenly distribute the load. As trains pass by, ballast maintains the sleepers in their position.

Because the ballast can degrade or get contaminated; ballast injection has to be done by a Midwest railroad contractor. 

The process introduces more stones onto an existing ballast bed or surface and leaves the compact and stable ballast bed undisturbed.

Bonus Tip: Tamp, Tamp, Tamp!

Tamping is performed to correct the track’s alignment, cross-level, and/or longitudinal profile. Sleepers are lifted in order to fix the level and vibrating and oscillating tamping tines are inserted into the ballast. Tamping involves the use of a ballast tamper or tamping machine.

Hire Most Trusted Midwest Railroad Replacement Contractor: R&S Track Inc.

The vagaries of the Midwest’s climate, constant vibration, and wear and tear, present a huge challenge to a network. Regular railway track maintenance carried out by professionals such as RS Track Inc. is necessary. 

At RS Track Inc., the service life of an older track can be prolonged, costly delays are avoided, fuel consumption is significantly reduced, and closure and disruptions are minimized. For a clear and safe operation, contact us at RS Track Inc. today! 

what is railroad ballast
Architecture & Building, Blog

What is Railroad Ballast and How We Maintain It Under your Railroads

The old cliche that a building is only as strong as its foundation rings true both in a metaphorical and literal sense. When it comes to our railroads, one may initially think that the foundation is the tracks, ties, or sleepers, although that’s not quite true. The foundation of every railroad is the railroad ballast that holds everything in place, ensuring that it’s maintained properly will ensure the longevity of the railroad.

Here at RS Track, we employ a range of machinery to help maintain the ballast which keeps your railroads functioning. Using these pieces of machinery requires a certain type of professional such as a Midwest railroad contractor who is experienced with them. Keeping your ballast in check is an ongoing process, and understanding how each machine helps in doing so can save you both time and money in the long run.

What is Railroad Ballast?

As previously alluded to, the ballast is the foundation on which the railroad lies, and its quality has a huge impact on the efficacy and longevity of the rails. Unless you’re a Midwest railroad contractor, you may not be fully aware of the several purposes for the use of ballast under railroads:

— To bear the load from the railroad ties, as well as the train and cars

— Limiting the growth of vegetation that might interfere with the track

— To facilitate drainage of water so that the track isn’t affected during a heavy downpour

The ballast we use on our railroads typically consists of granite, quartzite, dolomite, limestone, and trap rock. These stones typically have hard and sharp edges which enable them to lock together under pressure, and the relatively loose nature allows for flexibility as loaded train cars move over them.

The importance of the ballast shouldn’t be lost on anyone, as it truly is the foundation of all railroads. We employ several tools to manage ballast.

Railroad Ballast Hopper Cars

These are a special kind of hopper car which allow the dumping of ballast on railroads during both construction and maintenance. They are bottom-dumping with hydraulically operated bottom gates that distribute it across the track section, and have bottom shoulder chutes to get the ballast past the tie ends.

Railroad Ballast Regulator

Once the ballast is dumped on the tracks, it needs to be distributed and shaped to ensure the roadbed is level for the rails. This is achieved using a self-propelled, rail-mounted machine known as a ballast regulator or ballast sweeper. Ballast regulators are employed during both construction and maintenance of railroads, and use three pieces of equipment to achieve their purpose:

The Plow Blades: Used to shape and move ballast, and typically consist of two blades that can be independently adjusted to various heights for either side of the track.

The Ballast Boxes: Used for two purposes, to bring ballast back to the centerline of the tracks, and contour it to slope downward away from the tracks perpendicularly.

The Rotating Brushes: After the plow blades and ballast boxes have moved and shaped the ballast appropriately, there will usually be some leftover covering the ties. The rotating brushes safely remove this ballast from the ties to allow for their visibility for a maintenance inspection.

While their main function is in managing ballast, it’s not uncommon for a Midwest railroad contractor to use these machines for plowing and moving snow, clearing bush from the tracks, laying cable, and digging ditches.

Tamping Machine

More typically employed for maintenance or repair, a tamping machine is a self-propelled, rail-mounted machine used to pack the ballast under the track to make them more durable and level. Once upon a time, this was done manually with tools called beaters, but the advent of this machine has saved both time and money, as well as being faster and more accurate.

In its basic form, a tamper only packs the ballast, but more modern innovations have included lining machines that can straighten out the rails benefitting both the comfort of the passenger and longevity of the rails themselves. The tamping machine is typically employed after the regulator and is usually the final process in setting or repairing the ballast under the railroads.

The Importance of an Experienced Midwest Railroad Contractor: R&S Track Maintenance, Inc.

The machinery used in managing ballast is highly effective, although no amount of machinery is going to help without the direction of an experienced professional. When it comes to inspecting the ballast under and around your ties, it can be important to get a second opinion from a local Midwest railroad contractor to confirm or deny any concerns.

Whether you’re planning on constructing, repairing, or simply maintaining the ballast under your railroads, be sure to contact us at RS Track to ensure you have a qualified Midwest railroad contractor at your side.

Railroad inspections
Architecture & Building, Blog

The Importance Of Railroad Track Inspections

R&S Track, your Midwest railroad contractor, provides railroad inspections as part of our high-quality services. These track inspections have helped many clients monitor a track’s overall condition. Track inspections pay for themselves because they prevent future costs down the line. A railroad track’s wear and tear are inescapable, but you can curtail its progression with an R&S track inspection service. 

Rails are constantly exposed to severe stress due to heavy freight, high-speed round-the-clock trains, and the rail cars’ intermittent braking and accelerating. With regular everyday wear and tear and severe stress, a variety of rail defects will occur. Head, web, foot, switches, bolts, and welds are the most common places to find defects. Today, we would like to discuss the importance of railroad track inspections and how a midwest railroad contractor can lend a helping hand.

Railroad Inspections Reveal Rail Defects Including:

  • Abrasion
  • Deformation
  • Machining errors and Fatigue

There are other types of rail surface defects as well.

Rail Surface Defects Include

  • Squats—Squats predominantly happen on the flat part of a rail’s surface and occur when there is a mismatch between the wheel and the rails. The different types of squat defects include vertical, diagonal, and horizontal. The defect grows steadily while branching out horizontally underneath the top of the bearing, dislodging it from the body of the rail.
  • Weld – Track welding produces weak points that are prone to abnormalities and show up in the construction process and during maintenance of the rails. When a new line is assembled, some rails are joined by welding. In addition, rail maintenance also uses the welding process when a rail needs to be replaced. 
  • Joints – Joint area defects are gradual fractures in the web of the joint, usually near or at the end of the rail. The typical joint web defects include bolt cracks and separation at the joint. 

There are many causes of rail defects and rail failure. Some of these causes include bending and shear stress, wheel/rail contact stress, thermal stress, residual stress, and dynamic effects.

Railroad Inspection Defects As A Result Of Rail Contact Stress Or Contact Fatigue Include

  • Tongue lipping occurs when two wheels roll along the same spot causing a groove to form.
  • Head checking occurs when a wheel rolls into a gauge corner and creates a crack.
  • Squats usually occur when a wheel rolls across an existing crack, thus creating a new crack.
  • Another type of defect is caused by water filling up a crack and expanding. This produces a frozen crack.
  • Rail corrosion can also be caused by water and liquid. 

Railroad track inspections assess the operating conditions of the rail and identify areas needing maintenance. But even more importantly, inspections can prevent costly accidents.

In fact, one analysis shows that as a result of railroad track inspections, costs of railway issues and accidents have consistently gone down. The first federal track safety standards came into effect in 1971 following the enactment of the federal railroad safety act of 1970.

These regulations require railroads to ensure that employees who work near the tracks perform visual inspections. A qualified inspector should know about railroad tracks, railroads, and railroad safety. They should also have experience inspecting and reporting on a track’s safety conditions and the safety procedures followed by workers.

The job is physically demanding and dangerous. An inspector should be able to manage long periods of walking on rocky, uneven surfaces. They will be bending frequently and crouching to measure track geometry. Inspecting track defects requires climbing up embankments and track structures along with mounting and dismounting from railway cars.

Most inspection work takes place along railroads, in railroad yards, around track structures, and near railroad cars. Inspectors must wear safety glasses, a helmet, and safe, comfortable shoes when inspecting railroad property. They should be very cautious about getting caught in the moving pieces of turnouts or falling off structures.

There is a good chance they’ll be exposed to heat, cold, rain, snow, poison ivy, or other unpleasant elements. Inspectors also shouldn’t be afraid of heights since they need to climb on bridges over ground and water.

Track inspectors are responsible for inspecting railroad tracks, bridges, tunnels, etc. However, they also inspect freight cars. It’s a dangerous job because they are constantly around moving trains. Even so, a railroad track inspector needs to be a team player who is very organized and stays calm during stressful times.

They are required to complete track evaluations and report violations when necessary. The inspector will determine the need for safety meetings and be able to provide training for railroad employees. The training should include proper inspection, maintenance, and safety procedures for track operation.

A Professional Midwest Railroad Inspection: R&S Track

A satisfied customer is our main focus, and we won’t leave until the job is done. We are equipped to handle any job. To learn more about our services which included railroad track inspections, contact us today!

rail maintenance
Blog

Railroad Track Maintenance and Rehabilitation

R&S Track, your Midwest railroad contractor, provides a number of rail services to the Midwest rail infrastructure. In fact, since 1987, we have been serving the rail maintenance and railroad construction needs of the Midwest.

The most critical component of any railroad, other than employees, is the infrastructure. In today’s post, we will be discussing the importance of maintenance and rehabilitation.

The Basics Of Rail Maintenance & Rehabilitation

Railroad right of way infrastructure includes:

  • Ballast
  • Ties
  • Track
  • Bridges
  • Tunnels

Railroad adjacent line side structures that include:

  • Signs
  • Mileposts
  • Switches

In the late 1800s, the Granite Railway used early strap-iron rails that featured a wooden base atop thin iron strips for added strength. The concept was purely experimental, and developers learned on the fly. Engineers eventually determined that a dense, hardwood like oak proved the most economical. Today’s cross ties are at least 8 – 10 inches thick and about 8 – 10 feet long.

Today, a revolutionary design of an inverted capital “T” is placed on the ground providing a solid base while the narrow end is the wheels’ guide way. Later on, steel, a stronger, more durable material, replaced iron. Rail is an essential component of a balanced national transportation system and a globally competitive economy. Defining some terms is vital before getting started on the maintenance and rehabilitation of railroad tracks.

Here are some terms you may or may not be familiar with:

Gauge – A standard of measure or measurement.

Track Ballast – The track ballast is material, usually stones, that form the trackbed upon which the railroad ties are laid. It is packed below, between, and around the railroad ties to help water drain and prevent vegetation that might compromise the track’s stability.

Sleepers – A Sleeper is a load-distributing component of a track structure laid transversely to hold the rail. Sleepers are also called “Ties” because they tie the rails together.

Tamping – Packing the track ballast under railway tracks to make the track and roadbed durable and level.

Rail maintenance is a crucial component that ensures a safe and efficient track for freight and passenger trains. Rail is susceptible to wear and tear because of the heavy weight and high speeds the cars may reach.

The Main Types Of Rail Maintenance Or Rehabilitation Include

  • Rail Grinding – This consists of grinding machines that travel along the track with grinding stones, which rotate or oscillate longitudinally to scrape the rail’s surface.
  • Rail grinding is used to correct rail grooves, fatigue, metal flow, and rail reprofiling.
  • Rail Replacement – This is necessary to upgrade the track to a higher gauge rail or replace the same gauge rail due to defects, wear, or derailment damage.
  • Tamping – This is needed to correct the track’s longitudinal profile, cross-level, and alignment. A few sleepers at a time are lifted to the correct level with vibrating tamping tines inserted into the ballast.
  • Track Stabilization – Track stabilizers vibrate the track in the lateral direction with a vertical load to give a controlled settlement. Tamping and compacting ballast underneath sleepers reduces lateral resistance of the track. Track stabilization can restore the lateral resistance to the original level.
  • Ballast Injection (Stone Blowing) – Ballast injection or stone blowing is conducted to correct the longitudinal profile. The process introduces additional stones to the surface of the existing ballast bed while leaving the stable, compact ballast bed undisturbed.
  • Sleeper Replacement – In almost all types of sleeper defects, the sleeper requires replacement. Bad sleepers can result in the rail losing the correct gauge, which can cause derailments.

R&S Track: A Midwest Railroad Contractor That Can Handle Your Rail Maintenance Requirements

Tracks age over time and take a beating with bigger carloads, shorter load time pressures, and larger locomotives.

R&S Track, your Midwest railroad contractor, can handle the maintenance and track rehabilitation necessary to keep your tracks safe and help you plan for future maintenance. We have the workforce, experience, and equipment required to manage and complete your unique project. Our team is serious when it comes to track maintenance and rehabilitation. Please take a look at the complete list of our services and reach out today to R&S Track, your Midwest railroad contractor, for more information about what we do, contact us today!

railroad companies
Architecture & Building

Industries That Can Benefit from Railroad Companies

The benefits of railroads shouldn’t be lost on many Americans, as our great nation’s veins are those very same railroads that allowed the pioneers to spread so far and wide. Although we’ve seen other forms of transportation become popular, such as air and road freight, in some cases, rail still has the upper hand. This is usually the case in more specific industries, so understanding why railroad companies in these industries can be helpful.

As a midwest railroad contractor, R&S Track Inc is always looking for ways to help people build, improve, repair, and maintain those capillary and artery railroads of our country. Sometimes that means going back to our roots, to those industries which we’ve always worked alongside. Here’s a look at the industries that can benefit from railroad systems.

Coal

While the days of coal-powered stoves are long behind us, we still rely on coal for a relatively large portion of our electricity production. That same electricity that powers your home is the same which powers the factories that produce the goods we buy, so the necessity of coal is apparent.

Not only does the coal industry rely on trains, but they have historically relied upon each other, with specific train carts purpose-built to move coal called a coal car. Coal and trains have a long history together, and it doesn’t take a Midwest railroad contractor to see how that will go far into the future.

Construction Materials

Where would we be without the countless buildings which we occupy throughout each day? It’s hard to imagine, thanks to the numerous trains which have carted building supplies cross-country since the early days of modern America.

Construction materials tend to be incredibly heavy in larger amounts, and relatively worthless in smaller amounts, so finding an efficient way to transport large amounts of them has become a must. As with coal, there are various cars which can help to transport these goods efficiently with minimal waste.

Farm and Food Products

While we don’t typically associate a Midwest railroad contractor to the food we eat, their role is entwined with much of what stocks our shelves in the supermarkets. We Americans eat a lot of food and keeping up with that demand is a monumental effort that takes countless trains sprinting up and down the lifelines of our country.

Many farm and food products require refrigeration or certain conditions to be shipped, which can be achieved in trucks but nowhere near as affordable as with rail freight. Shipping food by train also bypasses the risks of traffic jams or other interruptions, which could be disastrous for some kinds of food products.

Clothes

Whether you like it or not, fashion is a huge part of our cultural identity in modern America. Having clothes has never been considered a luxury here, but without trains, we may not have the same affordability in modern fashion.

Trains offer an easier way to transport large amounts of clothing to even the smallest towns. Granting all access to that which keeps us warm, protected, and relatively dignified.

Automotives

The irony of road freight relying upon rail freight isn’t lost on the average Midwest railroad contractor, nor should it be lost on you. Most of the vehicles we see on the roads today started their lives as shells being shipped around in train cars.

Thanks to the sheer size of trains, we’re able to transport vehicles in pieces, as well as fully assembled vehicles. This is especially important in those industries with highly specialized vehicles.

Cleaning Products

Coming out of the pandemic, the importance of cleaning products is particularly highlighted. The chemicals which make cleaning products so effective are generally quite volatile in larger amounts. This can make shipping them by other means, such as road or boat, quite dangerous to other people and the environment.

As with other materials, there are specialized train cars that can offer the ability to transport these necessary chemicals safely.

Public Transport

While cars have given us huge amounts of freedom, so much of driving nowadays is back and forth to the same places. With a thousand individuals traveling from the same residential area to the same commercial or industrial area each day, we’re driving climate change at hyper-speed.

Trains have always offered a more comfortable, environmentally-friendly, and scenic way to achieve your daily commute. With the rise of larger corporations, we may see the necessity for train lines from towns to the factories which provide us with the countless goods we buy online.

Finding the Best Railroad Contractor Companies

When it comes to finding the best railroad contractor companies to work with you want to consider a few things before signing a multi-year contract or even a million dollar or more contract. Railway projects usually average around $1 million dollars per mile of railroad track that you want to lay, so most likely your project will require some big bucks.

Costs for a 1-mile railroad can quickly add up.

  • Railroad Switches: $50,000 (for 2 switches)
  • Switch Timbers: $12,000 (for 2 timbers)
  • Railroad Relays: $171,000 (for 245 tons)
  • Railroad Ties: $166,000 (for 3,000 ties)
  • Railroad Ballast: $162,000 (for 6,000 tons of rock)
  • Railroad Spikes: $4,000 (for 68 kegs)
  • Railroad Crossings: $15,000 (for 1 crossing with signals)
  • Labor, Grading, Drainage: Varies by Contractor

Compass International lists the Global Railroad Construction Costs in their engineering handbook what gives a more detailed look at the costs of quickly engineering a railroad, but most of the costs vary from contractor to contractor and from state to state and are even dependent on national level influences like the cost of local, state, and national regulation on the railroad companies. If your located in the midwest, than you have found the best railroad company. RS Track, can help you forecast the costs of developing a new railroad.

Our Midwest Railroad Companies Can Help Your Business

If you work within any of these industries, then we implore you to look into how you can incorporate railroads into your business. Whether that means buying land and building your own, or restoring an older line to its former glory, we can help. Be sure to check out our website or call us today to speak with a Midwest railroad contractor.

federal railroad administration
Blog

Typical Train and Railroad Safety Rules

Trains have been instrumental in the development of much of our modern world, and can be partially attributed to our modern quality of life. By helping us to transport goods and people en masse, we’ve been able to build towns and cities as nodes across our vast train networks. With this has come some degree of risk though, as with any kind of heavy machinery accidents do tend to happen, according to the Federal Railroad Administration.

If you grew up anywhere near a train track, then chances are you will have some experience with the basics of train and railroad safety. Although unless you’re a Midwest railroad contractor, you may not be aware of all the reasons why we have certain rules in place. If you’re looking to purchase, repair, or build any railroads, you will need to ensure that safety protocols are followed. Here’s a look at the typical train and railroad safety rules that you will need to enact to ensure the safety of pedestrians near your railroads.

Understanding the Federal Railroad Administration Expectations

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) work tirelessly to ensure safety across all railroads throughout America. They have strict guidelines and expectations which can be read on their website, and understanding these is important to the average Midwest railroad contractor and owners of railroads alike.

Ensure you have read all the relevant literature and ensured you’re meeting all of their safety regulations before allowing any trains to move on your rails.

Keeping Track of the Federal Railroad Administration Track and Rail Compliance Manual

Every industry has their checks and balances, as well as rating agencies, compliance agencies, and regulatory agencies that make sure the industry is operating efficiently, not cutting corners, and not hurting the people with predatory practices, or hurting the environment with illicit corporate activities that destroy the local, state, and national economies.

That’s why the FRA released the Track Integrity Manual which helps railroad owner operators follow the guidelines.

Trains and Railroads Require Regular Maintenance

Not only should you abide by the safety regulations expected by the FRA, but also ensuring that both your railroads and trains are in working order can further ensure safety. A simple brake failure can turn an accident into a tragedy, so be sure to do your due diligence in ensuring everything is repaired and maintained in a timely and effective manner.

For any help with maintaining your railroads, feel free to contact us to speak with an experienced Midwest railroad contractor who can help you maximize safety on your tracks.

Grade/Level Crossings

For the most part, trains will operate on railroads which are usually away from civilization and residential areas. Although as one can expect with such a web-like network, there are countless intersections where both vehicles and foot passengers will need to cross tracks safely. These are generally considered to be the most risky place for all parties involved, including even passengers and operators on the train. Most people are familiar with the idea of trains hitting cars which have stalled on their tracks, but not many are aware that countless cars drive into the sides of trains each year.

Having adequate and appropriate signage is considered one of the best ways to ensure the safety of pedestrians, motorists, operators, and pedestrians.

Passive and Active Signs

Most railroad crossings will utilize both active and passive signs to try and diminish the risk of accident at crossings. Passive signs, as the name suggests, are those which notify pedestrians and motorists of an upcoming railroad crossing. Whereas active signs are those which use lights and bells to indicate a train is coming.

Operation Lifesaver, an organization providing rail safety education, have a fantastic explanation of all the kinds of signs you can expect around crossings and railroads which you can read here.

Community Education

While signs can be useful in deterring accidents around railroads, they aren’t fail-safe. Beyond implementing adequate signage, many railroad owners will be encouraged to invest in community education. As with any kind of education, it all starts with our youth, so working alongside local schools to present a rail safety program relevant to the trains in your area of operation is a must. Even discrepancies like whether you’ll be hosting predominantly freight or passenger trains is an important consideration.

Young or New Drivers

Beyond implementing rail safety in our schools, there’s one other demographic who are often forgotten but potentially quite prone to accidents on railroads. Young or new drivers won’t have the same reflexes or quick-thinking necessary to swerve out of the way of danger, so ensuring that rail safety is taught to them too is a must.

The aptly named Operation Lifesaver once again have stepped up to provide invaluable resources on the matter, and have even created a video with an accompanying lesson plan to teach safe driving around railroads.

The Federal Railroad Administration Enforces Safety as the #1 Concern As A Midwest Railroad Contractor

We lead busy lives and tend to become desensitized to the very real risks around us at times, no matter how cautious we try and be. Over time you may start to see members of your community ignoring rail safety protocol in situations where they deem no danger present. Its in these moments that tragedy often strikes, so it’s important to regularly remind people of the necessity of safety protocol around railroads and trains.

Be sure to put up notices on both local social media groups and on community noticeboards if you believe safety is being ignored, and utilize the brilliant resources that Operation Lifesaver have created for this exact reason. Call us today for a free railroad consultation or schedule a safety inspection.

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How Midwestern Conditions Affect Railroads

Life in the Great American Midwest is defined by the terrain and weather conditions that are unique to the area. Because of this, infrastructure such as roads needs to be built to withstand such conditions, and knowledge of what affects it is important. According to the average railroad maintenance company, there are several environmental conditions in the Midwest that may affect your railroads.

While they seem relatively simple, railroads rely on a variety of nuanced mechanics to remain functional over time. When these mechanics are hindered by environmental conditions, they can pose a threat to both the vehicles using the line and those people in and around those vehicles. Whether you’re building a new railroad, or taking over an old one, knowing which conditions can affect your line is imperative.

Here is a look at how local conditions can affect railroads in different parts of the Midwest.

Railroad Maintenance Company that Handles Tornadoes

Truly one of the more terrifying extreme weather events, tornadoes are an annual part of life for many Midwesterners. While they can occur at any time of year, they generally occur in June and July in the Midwest due to Goldilocks-like conditions. Depending on their severity, they can scatter ballast or in more extreme instances uproot the entire rail scattering ties and sleepers, and warping rails.

While there isn’t much one can do in terms of preventing tornado damage to the railroads, certain areas in which tornadoes are more common can be avoided. Usually though, when tornadoes pose a threat to railroads, the trains, cars, and any potential passengers will usually take precedence.

Railroad Maintenance Company that Fights the Extreme Heat

While most locals are deeply fond of the hard and fast Summer that rolls through the Midwest each year, not everyone benefits from it. In fact, the extreme heat over this time poses a range of threats to our health, with dehydration and heatstroke being common issues each year. It also poses a threat to our infrastructure, which while made to withstand some degree of extreme weather, is still affected by it over time. When it comes to railroads, the main threat that extreme heat poses is the rail buckling while a train passes over it, which can be disastrous.

As with tornadoes, it can be hard to fight the extreme heat and the effects it has on your railroads. Regular maintenance and acknowledgment of extreme weather conditions can help to prevent such problems. On speaking with a Midwest railroad contractor, they mentioned that seasonal modifications can further dampen the negative threat of extreme heat and other extreme weather conditions.

Railroad Maintenance Company that Prepares for Ice and Snow

Extreme cold can have a profound effect on our daily life, and while Winter is short in the Midwest, like Summer it is fierce. In fact, braving that fierce cold has become a part of the Midwestern identity. Ice and snow caused by the extreme cold can have quite an impact on both trains and railroads. Ice building up on the brake shoes can dampen the stopping power of a train, as they need to warm up and melt the ice before they will function. Likewise, snow on the tracks can impact both the stopping and going power relied upon by trains.

Ice and snow can also cause derailments, which are pretty much the worst-case scenario for most railroad operators. A build-up of ice and snow between the rails can lead to a derail due to the lack of a flangeway for the wheels to ride in on the inside edge of the rails. During cold snaps or more intense snowfalls, all railroad operations may need to slow down or stop to allow snow-clearing equipment to do its thing.

As with extreme heat, seasonal modifications can help to prevent such issues from arising, although regular maintenance and paying close attention to the weather can be enough in some instances.

Spring Floods

It seems that the Midwest suffers from almost every possible extreme weather condition each year, which truly denotes Midwesterners as survivors. The final extreme weather condition which is common to the Midwest are the floods caused by Spring downpours each year. These have become increasingly worse in recent years, with the 2019 Spring being the wettest on record for the U.S.

While rain itself may not have a profound effect on the various components which make up a railroad, in large quantities water is capable of displacing even the strongest foundation. Areas near rivers and lakes are the most prone to being affected, and therefore require a lot more attention than those parts of the line in more arid areas.

Prepping and Maintaining your Railroad As A Midwest Railroad Contractor

If you have concerns about any of the above conditions affecting your railroad, don’t hesitate to contact us today. You can speak with a Midwest railroad contractor who can advise on all of the above matters, and help you figure out what you need to do to protect your line. Check out our website, or call us today to learn more about how we can help.

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Different Freight Cars for Different Loads

Freight via train has been revolutionary since its inception, and is still more advantageous to some than via ship or air. By retaining its relevance over time, we’ve also seen the freight cars change from their original form, which would’ve typically been a flatbed. Nowadays there are several different types of freight cars which can be used to move a variety of different things and materials.

Knowing which freight car will be relevant for your line is important well in advance, although there are usually options. If you aren’t a Midwest railroad contractor, or haven’t worked with different freight cars before, learning everything from scratch can be overwhelming. Instead it may be easier to consider the different kinds of freights, and identify which are relevant to your needs through comparison.

Here is a look at the different kinds of freight cars for different loads, as well as some of the history around them.

Types of Freight Cars – Flatcars

The first kind of freight cars to be used back in the early 19th century in England, flatcars were simply flat decks on wheels which allowed the stacking of various goods. These were instrumental in transporting large stones in early England, and have since been imperative for logging companies throughout the US.

Due to their shape, they allowed huge versatility in the transporting of goods, which has made them an asset to all rail freight companies. One might see vehicles, farm equipment, shipping containers, or even industrial parts on modern flatcars. Although their exposure to the elements meant that either the goods needed to be watersafe or timing would need to be concisely planned.

Types of Freight Cars – Gondolas

Usually the most beat up of all the cars, a Midwest railroad contractor friend claimed that these are the least respected cars in the industry. Relatively similar to the flatcar, gondolas have short walls around the sides which form a sort of bowl in which loose goods can be transported easily.

One will often see coal, stones, and smaller logs loaded into gondolas, although anything small can be carried in them with relative ease. A great advantage of gondolas is that they are generally so basic that usually only the air-hoses, bearings, knuckle couplers, truck assemblies, and other basic over-the-road equipment need to be maintained. Although their peculiar shape makes them only useful for specific kinds of goods.

Types of Freight Cars – Boxcars

Perhaps the most iconic car you will see carried behind a train is the boxcar, which most people will know from movies and TV shows. They’re often depicted as a large shipping container-sized car with big square openings that are either fixed open or can be opened and closed at will. We often saw them in movies as the car which people would hitch a ride on, running alongside the train to then jump up and sit in the opening.

These boxcars came about after the realization that loads may need some protection from the elements, and have been useful in carrying a variety of goods. While they are effective in transporting large goods in a sheltered manner, their shape and style does limit what can be carried in them.

Wellcars

While the industry recognizes that wellcars are a pretty big improvement on the flatcar, they are essentially flatcars which are slightly more equipped to hold containers. Also known as double stack cars, for their ability to stack two intermodal shipping containers on top of each other, these are ideal for those companies that handle a lot of shipping containers.

Shipping containers weren’t the only thing that wellcars have been used to move though, with truck trailers also being loadable. Transporting several truck trailers via a freight train may be much more affordable and environmentally friendly than simply driving each and every trailer back, so this also makes a good option for trucking companies.

Tank Cars

Another recognizable car, the tank car consists of a large cylindrical barrel fixed upon a flatcar which can transport liquid or liquefiable goods. Prior to tank cars, freight companies would have to rely on barrels to transport liquid, largely limiting how much could be moved. These barrels would typically have seal issues, and leaks were common on the lines, causing issues for both oil companies and train lines.

Modern construction of tank cars allows a much wider range of goods to be transported in them, with even food-grade tanks becoming commonplace. For transporting large amounts of liquids across the country, very few forms of transport stand up to tank cars and what they allow.

Other Cars

These are just some of the more common types of cars, you may also see:

  • Hopper cars – similar to gondolas with much higher walls to transport more loose materials
  • Caboose – typically attached at the end of all the cars, these are used by crew
  • Refrigerator cars – as the name suggests these allow the transporting of goods which need to be cooled
  • Livestock cars – cars which are outfitted to carry livestock
  • Iron ore cars – prior to hopper cars, iron ore jennies allowed large amounts of iron and other ores to be transported safely

If you’re looking for more advice about which types of cars may be relevant for your work, don’t hesitate to call us to talk to one of our Midwest railroad contractor team.

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