Serving the Track Maintenance needs of the Midwest since 1987
Mark Robak
Tim Starostka
Pat Phillips
Ryan Karr


Railroad track repair
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The Benefits of Building Railroads vs Railroad Track Repair

Railroad track repair is what we do. The value of functional railroad systems is intrinsically tied into the history of America’s economic success. While in days of old a great deal of manpower was used to build many of the tracks we use today, times have thankfully changed and technology has replaced the dependence on manpower. Much has changed in the country, but railroad contractors are still very much needed for repairing railroads and more!

Just consider the many uses and benefits of the railway system and its easy to see why adjustments or new rails are laid down still.

There are many factors to consider nowadays, which largely depend on what the railroad’s intended use is. There are also a number of modern rules and regulations around the building, maintenance, and risk management of railroads. Understanding the efficacy and economic viability of a railroad as opposed to other transport systems can also benefit the budding investor.

The Purpose of Railroad Track Repair

There are only really a couple of modern uses for railroads, they are freight and personnel transport, but those are incredibly crucial uses for the country.

Railroad Freight Benefits

Railways are still utilized for the the freight of various goods, it’s important to look at other options too. Read here to learn more about the similarities and differences between rail and road freight.

Personnel Benefits of Railroads

A railroad to transport people to and from wherever, then the same consideration can apply as freight. What are the benefits of transporting people via rail rather than by road? There are plenty of potential reasons such as:

  • Access to a worksite which otherwise is inaccessible
  • Transporting large amounts of people to and from the same place daily
  • Creating a sense of history or mystery in relation to some event or place

Whatever reason you’re looking into railroads, identifying exactly why you wish to do so can potentially show you positives and negatives you may not have considered.

Railroad Track Repair and Environmental Conditions

Extreme weather conditions can be mitigated by the use of more modern methods and materials, but they will still deteriorate your tracks over time. Otherwise if you’re looking at buying an old track, then looking into its history can tell you how the materials and methods used have fared against the weather and environmental conditions of the area.

Building a Bridge

It’s not uncommon to require a bridge somewhere along your railroad track to pass over a valley or a body of water that can’t otherwise be circumnavigated. Building or repairing a bridge for use can be an expensive project, and can also take several months. Be sure to confer with the appropriate engineers prior to pursuing such a project to get an idea of the cost and time it may take.

Digging a Tunnel

As with building a bridge, it can often be impossible to circumnavigate certain topological features and one must simply go through them. Digging a tunnel, like building a bridge, can be incredibly expensive in both time and money. If it can’t be avoided, then as with bridges it’s important to speak with an engineer about the true cost of such a project.

You may not have to face either of these situations, especially if you’re considering building somewhere generally flat like the Midwest. Railroad contractor James J Hill was quoted saying “What we want is the best possible line, shortest distance, lowest grades, and least curvature we can build.”, which still rings true today.

Railroad Track Repair vs Building a New Railroad

A question which we have the luxury of asking these days is “do I repair the existing structure or do I build something entirely new?”. Both of these have their own pros and cons and comparing them can give you an idea of what may be more suitable for you.


There are many train tracks which already exist across America, with plenty of corridors which may only require some minor repairs. 


  • Can be cheaper than building new by not needing more materials
  • More environmentally friendly than building new as new resources aren’t required
  • Preserves a part of America’s rich rail history


  • May require more frequent and heavy-duty maintenance
  • Restricts the rail to only suitable trains and carriages
  • May require a lot of research into the history of the railroad to find details about construction and materials

Building Fresh

By building a new railroad, you will have an entirely different experience and a completely different result.


  • Built to your exact specifications
  • Can utilize modern materials and technology to increase longevity
  • Allows for maximum safety and minimal risk 


  • Substantially more expensive than refurbishing
  • Can take a lot more time than simply refurbishing
  • May have to spend time and money in removing old tracks

Railroad Track Repair vs Building: Contact R&S Track

Regardless of whether you’re looking at repairing an old line, or building a new one, be sure to get in contact with all the appropriate authorities to make a legitimate plan. Contact us today to speak with an experienced Midwest railroad contractor to learn more about how we can help.

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The Federal Laws About Railroad Tracks

Its important to understand the laws about railroad tracks. Partnering with a Midwest railroad contractor that understands the many federal railroad laws governing our all-important railroad system is crucial for a successful and legally compliant job. While many states have regulations around their railroads, there are three federal laws which generally preempt them. Understanding these federal laws can ensure any railroad work you do is not only legal, but also safe.

Here is an overview of some of the federal railroad laws which affect railroad construction and maintenance.

Federal Laws About Railroad Tracks

The Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act of 1995

The Interstate Commerce Commission was the first regulatory commission established in the US, back in 1887. Although the agency was terminated at the end of 1995, with its functions either being transferred to the relevant departments, or deregulated.

The Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act (ICCTA) preempts state and local regulation of matters regulated by the Surface Transportation Board. This includes the construction, operation, and abandonment of rail lines.

ICCTA Permitting/Preclearance Requirements

Here is a summary of state and local permitting or preclearance requirements preempted by the ICCTA, because they could be used to affect the ability of a railroad to perform part of its operations or to proceed with activities authorized by the Surface Transportation Board.

  • Preconstruction permitting of a transload facility. 
  • Environmental and land use permitting.
  • Demolition permitting process.
  • The requirement that railroad companies obtain state approval before the discontinuation of station agents, abandoning rail lines, or the removal of side tracks or spurs.

Surface Transportation Board Regulations

Here is a summary of areas of state or local regulations directly regulated by the Surface Transportation Board.

  • State statutes regulating railroad operations.
  • State statutes regulating the contracts between rail carriers.
  • Attempts to condemn railroad tracks or nearby land.
  • State negligence or nuisance claims.

State and Local Activities NOT Regulated by the ICCTA

Here is a summary of the areas of state or local regulations which aren’t preempted by the ICCTA.

  • Voluntary agreements entered into by the railroad.
  • Traditional police powers over the development of railroad property, at least to the extent that the regulations protect the public health and safety, are settled and defined. These need to be obeyed with reasonable certainty, entail no open-ended or extended delays, and can be approved or rejected without the exercise of discretion on subjective questions.
  • Zoning regulations applied to railroad-owned land used for non-railroad purposes by a third party.
  • Miscellaneous laws and acts determined to not have anything to do with transportation.
  • State statute requiring railroads to pay for pedestrian crossings across railroad tracks.

Laws About Railroad Tracks: The Federal Railroad Safety Act of 1970

The Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA) of 1970 attempts to “promote safety in every area of railroad operations and reduce railroad-related accidents and incidents”. This is achieved through the contemplation of a comprehensive and uniform set of safety regulations in all areas of railroad operation. The FRSA assigns regulatory responsibility to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), who have responsibility over all areas of railroad safety and the authority required to investigate and prosecute violations of any rail safety law.

The FRA uses four acts to guide safe railroad operations.

The Signal Inspection Act

This dictates the maintenance, testing, removal, or modification of signal systems. Some of the main requirements regarding signals include:

  • Every railroad system must have qualified signal and train inspectors
  • All warning signals must be working properly

Each state is responsible, under federal regulation, to implement, install, and maintain their own crossing signals. This includes determining which type of signal best suits each crossing.

The Accident Reports Act

An important aspect of federal railroad laws are that all railroad workers are entitled to safety, and the FRA aims to ensure this through the comprehensive investigation of accidents, as well as holding the responsible company accountable.

Laws About Railroad Tracks: Railroad Safety Appliance Act

The Railroad Safety Appliance Act (RSAA) took effect in 1900, and railroads across the country are much safer because of its existence. There are eight major sections in this act which are still in existence today.

The safety feature that all locomotives and cars must include:

  • Power-driving wheel brakes useable within the train-brake system
  • 50% of all train vehicles must be equipped with train or power brakes
  • Enough power brakes or train brakes for the engineer to control the train’s speed without relying on hand brakes
  • Drawbars which meet height requirements as prescribed by the Secretary of Homeland Security
  • Handholds and grab irons at the ends of cars and sides of cars
  • Secured running boards and ladders with available handholds or grab irons at the top
  • Efficient hand brakes and secure sill steps
  • Train couplers which can be coupled by impact and uncoupled without a worker needing to step in between the ends of cars

Locomotive Inspection Act

Passed by Congress in 1908 as the first federal law addressing steam locomotives, the Locomotive Inspection Act is another integral part of the success of railroads in the United States. The sections of this act still in use today state that locomotives can only be permitted for use when all parts are up to code. 

The first of these standards dictates that a carrier should only operate if the locomotive and its parts “are in proper condition and safe to operate without unnecessary danger of personal industry.

The second states that a licensed locomotive inspector must inspect all the parts and mechanisms regularly. The frequency in which they are to be checked depends on how the train is classified.

The final standard states that the locomotive must be able to withstand all tests prescribed by the Secretary of Homeland Security.

Interested in Learning More Laws About Railroad Tracks – Contact R&S Track Inc – The Midwest Railroad Contractor

Whether you’re looking for a Midwest railroad contractor for maintenance, the installation of new tracks, or even the disassembly, we can help. We pride ourselves on the quality of service which our midwest railroad contractors can provide, and have experience with all necessary local, state, and federal regulations regarding railroads.

Contact us today!

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The Necessity of Regular Track Maintenance

Part of the success of any form of infrastructure is regular and consistent maintenance to ensure each integral part is acting as it should. When this isn’t being achieved, a myriad of issues and potential dangers can arise. This can affect not only the engineers and operators related to the infrastructure but also the citizens who use and exist around it. That’s why regular track maintenance is so important.

When it comes to maintaining railroads, the dangers can be devastating to the wealth of those utilizing the tracks for shipping. And in the case of public transit, the risks involve the lives of each and every passenger onboard. Hence the absolute necessity of regular track maintenance.

Here are the aspects of train tracks which need maintenance, and the potential results of not maintaining them.

Why Track Maintenance Is Necessary & What They Inspect

The first step in maintenance, and arguably the most important. Inspecting railroad tracks can give us an idea of the health of the track, and where issues may arise. Ideally the inspection should find issues well in advance, although that isn’t always the case.

How they Inspect the Track

There are a few typical methods that track inspectors will use to determine the condition of the track and its components. These are usually referred to as Non-destructive testing (NDT) methods.

Inspection Techniques

These are:

  • Ultrasound – the most popular method of testing which uses Ultrasonic Testing Units (UTU)
  • Visual inspection – usually achieved with a camera to detect breaks or cracks in bolted rail
  • Liquid Penetrant Inspection LPI) – used to manually inspect rail ends and joint bars
  • Eddy current inspection – used for finding surface flaws
  • Radiography – used on predetermined location to find thinks like bolt holes where thermite welding was used
  • Magnetic Particle Inspection (MPI) – used for detailed inspection
  • Magnetic induction – the earliest form of rail inspection used

Inspection Methods

Depending on the length of the track different methods may be more suitable.

A common method is using a hand pushed trolley or in a hand-held setup, both of which are suitable for smaller sections or in precise locations. Otherwise, inspection cars and HiRail trucks which have evolved from Dr. Sperry’s model in 1927 has made high mileage inspection much easier. These cars can be outfitted with multiple NDT methods and operate at speeds up to 30 mph.

The frequency of these different forms of inspection depend on how often the track is used, or what it’s being used for.

Why Track Maintenance Is Necessary & What they Look For

Qualified railroad inspectors will have a detailed list of exactly what they’re looking for, but acquainting yourself with the gist of it can be greatly beneficial.

Rail Defects

These are the kinds of things that an inspector is looking for:

  • Bending and shear stresses
  • Wheel and rail contact stresses
  • Thermal stresses and residual stresses
  • Rolling Contact Fatigue (RCF) contact stresses like tongue lipping, gauge corner cracking, and squats
  • Corrosion
  • Inclusions
  • Seams
  • Shelling
  • Transverse fissures
  • Wheel burn

Component Defects

These are the parts of a rail where defects can occur:

  • Head
  • Web
  • Foot
  • Switchblades
  • Welds
  • Bolt holes

Most of the flaws found in rails are found in the head, although they’re also seen in the web and foot. When this occurs, the entire rail needs to be thoroughly inspected.


Track maintenance is necessary for keeping your trains running on time, inadequate maintenance may lead to a slow order which can disrupt freight and passenger transport.

In the early days of the railroad industry, maintenance was an extremely labor-intensive task which took a large team of trackmen. They would use lining bars to correct irregularities in horizontal alignment of the track, and tamping and jacks to correct vertical irregularities.

Nowadays maintenance is achieved through the utilization of highly-specialized machines. A common example is the use of a rail grinder to maintain the surface of the head of the rails.

There are a huge variety of different maintenance techniques used to alleviate the many different issues that can occur.

Some common forms of maintenance include:

  • Changing sleepers
  • Lubricating and adjusting switches
  • Tightening loose track components
  • Surfacing and lining track to keep straight sections straight and curves within maintenance limits
  • Sleeper and rail replacement which is achieved automatically through track renewal trains

This list can go on and on, the specific maintenance relevant to your track will be dependent on the frequency of use and environmental conditions. Considering all of this can be an overwhelming task, so hiring qualified experts in track inspection and maintenance can save you a lot of time.

Professional Railroad Services

Here at R&S Track Inc. we pride ourselves on a high quality of service that you can depend on for your railroad needs.

Whether you’re looking for a Midwest railroad contractor or inspector, we’re willing and able to help.

Although we’re based in Nebraska, most of our services are available to North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio.

Railroad tracks through picturesque mid west - Rail Freight concept image
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Why the Battle Still Rages Between Rail and Road Freight

For as long as we’ve produced goods to trade with one another, we’ve needed to send them to each other over varying distances. Nowadays we have four main freight options, road (trucks), rail (trains), air (planes), and sea/ocean (ship).

For the sake of discussion we’ll forgo freight by air and sea, instead focusing on the land-based shipping options, specifically domestically.

While it’s true that road transport is the most commonly used freight, there are good reasons as to why rail continues to be used. The differences between rail and road freight may seem nominal, but when put side-by-side there are some striking strengths and weaknesses to each side.

Road Freight

As previously mentioned, road freight is the most common form of shipping in the world. Although just because it’s common doesn’t make it the best way of doing things.

All kinds of goods are shipped this way, especially to and from Distribution Centers which service particular areas. As we all know, if it weren’t for the many truckers on the road, we wouldn’t have many of the modern conveniences we enjoy.


  • Road freight can be more efficient and economical especially over shorter distances.

Depending on the roads between point A and point B, road freight may make more sense when the distance is less as a more direct route can be chosen.

  • It can be used for cross-country long haul shipments.

Many border crossings are prepared for and used to trucks carrying shipments in and out of their respective countries. Depending on the country, roads may be the only viable option for moving goods to the outer regions.

  • Easier to track cargo movement through GPS and satellite tracking.

Many companies today rely heavily on GPS to ensure their goods will arrive on the predetermined date. Tracking via road freight may be easier due to the nature of the infrastructure built around roads.


  • There are various limitations to the size of the vehicle, the size of the load, and the road weight varies in different places. 

Depending on the size of the good you’re sending, a truck may not be big enough to move the amount you’re trying to ship. There are also a number of different road weight restrictions in different parts of the States, which may limit you from shipping through those areas.

  • Limited by the conditions of the road: weather, maintenance, accidents, etc.

Shipping times can be heavily affected by weather conditions such as snow, hail, rain, storms; as well as road maintenance work; and sadly inevitable accidents that do occur.

  • Currently not a typically environmentally friendly option.

Although there are efforts being made by some of the major vehicle manufacturers to produce electric trucks, we’re not there yet. As it stands shipping by road creates unnecessarily high amounts of emissions when compared with other options. 

Rail Freight

Most popular in countries and continents with long transit times such as China, Russia, India, and parts of the USA and Europe. Rail freight has long been relied on for shipping for such industries as forestry, agriculture, military, and mining. 


  • Rail freight is a more environmentally-friendly shipping option.

Studies have shown that trains burn less fuel per ton mile than road vehicles, and without traffic or other obstacles the journeys are often done efficiently.

  • Freight trains are capable of carrying much larger loads than typical freight trucks.

By being substantially larger they have the capacity to be loaded much more than trucks, and usually don’t have such limiting weight restrictions in the train or on the rail.

  • Long distance freight works out cheaper and faster on rail.

Considering the many things that can go wrong on the road, rail has the benefit of being straightforward (literally and figurative). This can lead to savings in both time and money for those sending and those receiving the goods. 


  • Rail freight is limited to exactly where the rails are.

For shorter distances there may be no station in which the freight can be unloaded. In many cases the final leg of a rail freight is done by road to get the goods where they need to be.

  • Potential delays when crossing borders into other countries.

Depending on the border and the country, rail freight can be heavily affected by the bureaucracy. Especially in those circumstances which require a different rail operator to continue. 

  • Fragile or abnormal cargoes cannot be shipped by rail freight.

Some goods are simply unsuitable to be loaded into the back of a train to be shipped across the country. 


As you can see both sides have their ups and downs, and many people find a combination of the two to be most effective. If you’re looking for a Midwest railroad contractor, or just looking for more information, get in contact with us.

Track maintenance in progress tp prevent Railroad Accidents
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7 Common Causes of Railroad Accidents

Railroad accidents aren’t as common as accidents on the highway, but they still happen. It’s something we’re well aware of as a Midwest railroad track inspection service.

In this blog post, we’re going to examine some of the most common causes of railway accidents and how you can avoid them.

  1. Negligence

Negligence comes in many forms. Sometimes it’s the fault of the railroad itself, or a contractor, or an equipment manufacturer.

One common contributor to this issue is the use of outdated technology. While adding this tech typically involves a significant investment, it’s hard to put a price on public/employee safety.

  1. Human error

Accidents can happen if a conductor is inexperienced, but also if they’ve been working too long and feel fatigued. From lack of judgement to lack of experience to impaired reactions, human error is a regular factor in train accidents.

  1. Speeding

Just high speed is often a factor in serious or fatal car crashes, speeding can also play a role in train accidents. Evidence from a number of recent train crashes suggest the higher the speed of the train, the worst the crash and the greater chance of derailment.

  1. Reckless drivers, careless pedestrians

Some train accidents have more to do with what happens off the tracks than the train itself. Reckless or distracted pedestrians can cause a collision by walking on or too close to the track. And drivers can cause train crashes by having their vehicles too close to the train or trying to cross the tracks before the train comes.

  1. Mechanical failure

Even with everyone operating the train doing everything right, railroad accidents can still happen when mechanical failure occurs. Trains are complex machines, with several independent systems needed to power the train. If one piece of equipment fails, it can lead to a serious — if not deadly — train accident.

  1. Obstructions

Foreign objects left on or near train tracks can have deadly consequences, including derailment. Conductors must be aware of their surroundings to deal with dangerous situations quickly, but in some cases, they may not be able to see obstructions on the tracks, leading to serious or even deadly crashes.

  1. Crossing issues

A majority of railroad accidents happen at railroad crossings with improper warning devices like gates or lights. They are typically caused by lack of visibility, impaired or distracted drivers, or drivers trying to outrun the train.

Preventing derailments

While conductors can’t control what other drivers do around trains, you can control the state of your tracks to prevent derailment. This means taking steps such as:

  • Scheduling a quarterly inspection by a Nebraska railroad contractor who is qualified to perform inspections.
  • Instructing your team how to look for defects and hazards along the tracks.
  • Maintaining the proper width between rails — 56.5 inches. Loose or missing bolts and joint bars can indicate the gauge, or width, is too wide.
  • Looking for broken railroad ties, loose or missing spikes and tie plates that have cut into the ties.
  • Inspecting for broken switch points, which can put a gap between the point and rail and cause the wheels of a car to travel along the wrong track.
  • Search for signs of fading structural integrity that could lead to a buckled or rolled rail.

R&S Track Maintenance: Expert Nebraska railroad contractor

Since 1987, companies in search of safe and efficient rail services have turned to R&S Track Maintenance, a Nebraska railroad contractor specializing in rail maintenance and railroad construction, as well as surveying, consulting, track maintenance and repair, and inspections.

Our experts know what warning signs to look for and can recommend the strategies for helping your operators avoid accidents. Contact us today to learn more.

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The Benefits of Moving Freight by Rail

While people may not travel by train the way they used to, we still move a lot of goods by rail.

According to the Federal Railroad Administration, nearly 30 percent of freight cargo transported in the United States reached its destination using trains, helped along by midwest rail contractors like us.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss some of the benefits of shipping goods using the rail system.

  1. It’s cost effective

Switching from road to rail shipping can save you anywhere from 10 to 40 percent, as you cut down on the cost of fuel — particularly for high volume shipments — and the cost of drivers.

  1. It’s reliable and efficient

Trains run on set schedules and don’t have to share tracks with other vehicles in the way trucks do with other drivers. Your shipments won’t be delayed by things like weather or construction or traffic jams. And in many cases, the average transport time for a train is similar to road transit. It’s not a good fit for time-sensitive deliveries, but a more-than-viable option for longer hauls.

  1. You can move large loads

Do you need to move high volumes of freight? Use a train. A double-stacked train can transport the same amount of goods as 280 trucks.

This is especially important at a time when over-the-road capacity is tight and finding drivers can be difficult. Rail transport doesn’t have the limitations you’ll find with trucking, meaning it’s a good solution for shippers seeking capacity.

Why shipping by rail is a green solution

Shipping by rail not only benefits your company, it benefits the planet. Here’s how:

  1. It’s like carpooling without cars.

When you transport your goods by train, you’re sharing cargo space with other businesses. Just as carpooling takes cars off the road and uses less fuel, rail transit provides a similar function.

  1. It uses less fuel

Rail transit is four times more fuel efficient than using trucks. Experts estimate that taking just 10 percent of truck freight off of the highways and moving it to the rail system would save 800 million gallons of fuel a year.

  1. Emissions are lower

And with less fuel being used, you’re lowering emissions into the atmosphere. Gas emissions drop by 75 percent from going from truck to rail, meaning fewer greenhouse gases in the air.

With fewer trucks on the road, highways start to look better, leading to fewer costly repairs, less reason to use machinery that is itself a greenhouse gas contributor. Less truck traffic means less traffic congestion, which wastes billions of gallons of fuel each year.

Midwest railroad contractor

Rail has a bright future in the U.S., and R&S Track, an expert midwest railroad contractor, is excited to be a part of it, just as we’re proud to have played a role in its history.

We are approved for bidding on all projects by servicing railroads and are OSHA and DOT compliant and ISNET certified.

R&S Track is adept at railroad track construction, railroad repair and railroad maintenance, with nearly 35 years of experience. Contact us today to learn more.

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The Basics of Railway Safety

When you work in the railroad construction or railroad maintenance industry, you learn very quickly the importance of railway safety standards and precautions.

Railway Safety Standards for Railroad Companies

If you are the owner operator of a railroad company in the West, Midwest, or Southeast railroad lines there are standards to railroad safety that are required by the Federal Railroad Administration.

These standards that you should consider implementing for your rail company include:

  • Grade Crossings
  • Hazardous Materials
  • Motive Power and Equipment
  • Operating Practices
  • Signal and Train Control
  • Track

Railroad safety is something that the general public might not think much about, which is why we wanted to share these safety tips from the American Association of Railroads. It’s useful information for pedestrians, drivers, or really anyone who spends time around trains.

Railway Safety for Pedestrians

  • The only safe place to cross railroad tracks is at a designated public crossing with a gate, crossbuck or flashing lights. Crossing anywhere else can lead to a citation or fine for trespassing.
  • Railroad tracks, rail yards, trestles and equipment are private property, meaning you could face criminal prosecution if caught trespassing, to say nothing at the risks to your physical safety.
  • Trains can take up to a mile to stop, making it nearly impossible for a locomotive operator who sees someone appear suddenly on the tracks to stop on time.
  • Trains can overhang tracks by up to three feet on either side, with loose straps extending even further. This means if you’re in the right-of-way near the tracks, you run the risk of being hit by the train.
  • Never cross tracks as soon as a train passes. There could be another train approaching from the other direction. Wait until you have a clear sight line in both directions before crossing at a safe place.
  • If you see flashing red lights, a train is on its way. Never walk around or behind the gates once they’ve lowered and wait until lights have stopped blinking to cross.
  • Recreational activities and railroad trestles are a bad combination. There’s not enough clearance for people to fish, bungee jump, walk or ride ATVs in these spaces.
  • Never attempt to hop onto a train or other railroad equipment. One wrong step could cause you to lose a limb, or your life.
  • A good rule for pedestrians and motorists alike: Remember that trains don’t follow a set schedule. One could come along at any moment.

Behind the wheel

  • It is both illegal and dangerous to drive around lowered gates at a railroad crossing. Wait until they’ve lifted and the lights have stopped blinking to pass.
  • If your vehicle stalls on the tracks at a railroad crossing, get out right away and move away from the tracks — even if there’s no train coming. Find the Emergency Notification System sign nearby and call the number to inform them about your vehicle.
  • If you’re waiting at a multiple-track crossing, watch for a second train approaching from either direction and wait until things are clear to cross.
  • Trains are moving faster than they appear. As with pedestrians, remember that they cannot stop quickly. It can take more than a mile for them to break if they see you.
  • Cross train tracks at designated crossings, look both ways and cross quickly without stopping. It’s not safe to stop your car within 15 feet of the rails.

Railway Safety is Required in the Railroad Integrity Manual

Railroad safety is a two-way street, so to speak. Pedestrians, drivers, and railroads need to do their part, and we need to do ours.

R&S Track is committed to helping improve railroad safety with our railroad maintenance services. From surveying to consulting to track maintenance and inspections, our team knows what hazards to look for and can recommend the steps you can take to improve the safety of your rail crews, drivers and pedestrians alike. Contact us today to learn more.

For consulting advice on implementing a railroad safety protocol in your railroad, give us a call today!

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How to Choose a Railroad Contractor

There’s little room for error for a railroad contractor in the world of railroad construction. Choosing the wrong railroad contractors near me puts you at risk for delays, needless expenses or even lackluster safety standards.

Whether you’re looking for someone to construct a new piece of track or repair an existing railway, it’s crucial you look for someone with the expertise and reputation to suit your needs.

5 Questions You Should Ask a Railroad Contractor

  1. Are they experienced?

One of the first things to look for is whether the contractor’s experience lines up with the requirements of your project.

Try to get a sense of the methodology they use to manage projects and the type of work they’ve done with companies like yours in the past.

Ask them about their project success rate, their track record for concluding projects on time and within budget. Find out their criteria for communication. Will they provide regular updates and detailed reports? Finally, ask if they have their own specialized equipment.

  1. Are they safe?

Railroad construction and repair can be dangerous, which is why it’s vital to pick a midwest railroad contractor who closely follows industry safety standards and who keeps their workers up to date on safety protocols.

The contractor will be responsible for making sure their employees and work sites are safe, but it’s still in your best interest to see that work is done to the highest safety standards to ensure the project passes inspection.

  1. How is their environmental record?

Like all transportation work, railroad construction projects need to meet the standards set by government environmental policies.

That’s why it’s important to choose a contractor who can effectively deal with possible environmental incidents and perform remedial actions to protect the environment. Look for a provider that has a long record of environmental sustainability.

  1. Can they think on their feet?

In a perfect world, every railroad construction or repair project would go off without a hitch. But there’s no way to predict things like extreme weather events.

What if flash flooding causes a subsidence near one of your bridges? What if a snowstorm closes down construction?

You need a midwest railroad contractor who can respond to these issues when they occur. Look for someone who can offer a range of services, not only construction but also design, maintenance and inspections.

Look for someone with local expertise. A railroad contractor who’s only done work in, say, Arizona may not be familiar with dealing with midwestern winters.

  1. What do other people say about them?

A dependable railroad contractor is one who won’t mind turning over their references. Speaking to their past clients is the simplest way to get a sense of what it will be like to work with them.

Once you’ve made contact with these references, ask them things like: Did they understand your needs? Were you satisfied with their overall work? Were they responsive to questions and requests? Did they meet safety and/or environmental regulations? And perhaps most importantly, would you work with them again?

We like to think our clients would answer yes to those questions. As a premiere midwest railroad contractor, R&S Track has spent nearly 30 years helping businesses who needed:

We Are Railroad Contractors Near Me

We have a 100 percent track record of customer satisfaction as the midwest railroad contractors near me and are happy to provide references. Contact us at 402-564-1801 for service inquiries and price estimates.

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How to Prevent Train Derailment

If you’re a Nebraska railroad contractor, the idea of a train derailment is frightening, which is why it’s important to know how to prevent train derailment.

When a train derails, it’s the type of thing that makes the news, often with footage of emergency responders, survivors walking around in a daze.

But in truth, train derailments that lead to injuries are very rare, as most trains in America carry freight rather than passengers, and train cars are designed to survive impacts.

Writing in his book Train Wreck: The Foresnics of Rail Disasters, George Bibel says:

Most derailments are relatively benign, and can be compared to a person walking down the street, tripping, getting back up, and continuing on her or his way. Unless derailed cars crash into houses, strike passenger trains, or release hazardous material into a neighborhood, derailments do not normally affect civilians.

In addition, train derailments are becoming less and less common over the past 40 years due to upgrades in track technology.

Still, that doesn’t mean that track safety and efficiency isn’t something Nebraska railroad contractors should ignore.

Here are a Few Tips on How to Prevent Train Derailment

1. Inspect your tracks

Every inch of track in your facility should undergo a quarterly inspection by a Nebraska railroad contractor who is qualified to perform inspections.

You should perform regular, consistent maintenance on rail infrastructure and instruct your team on how to spot hazards and defects along the tracks.

2. Wide gauge tracks

Maintaining the correct width between rails — otherwise known as “gauge” — is important to ensuring safe conditions.

The standard gauge is 56.5 inches. Anything beyond this width is known as wide gauge and may lead to derailments. You can inspect your lines for a wide gauge track by looking for loose or missing bolts and joint bars.

3. Inspect Broken Railroad Ties

In addition, you should keep an eye out for broken railroad ties, spikes that have come loose or gone missing, or tie plates that have cut into the ties.

Check for places where mud is sitting atop the ballas, which could signal a feeble foundation and improper drainage.

4. Look for Broken Switch Points

Look for broken switch points, as these can put a gap between the rail and point and allow the wheels of a car to move along the wrong track.

5. Look for Flagging Structural Integrity

Finally, look for signs of flagging structural integrity (poor spike quantity or tie conditions) that could lead to a buckled or rolled rail.

Preventing sideswipes

Stopping sideswipes in your facility can help guard against derailments. Sideswipes can happen when rail cars are allowed to go past their clearance points and workers don’t know the tracks are obstructed.

You can prevent these incidents with clearance cone markers, which indicate where cars can be spotted without blocking an adjacent track. It’s also a good idea to paint two railroad ties 15 feet back along the cones.

R&S Track Maintenance: Expert Nebraska railroad contractor

For more than 30 years, companies seeking safe, efficient rail services have turned to R&S Track Maintenance, a Nebraska railroad contractor who provides far more than rail maintenance and railroad construction.

Our services include surveying, consulting, track maintenance and repair, and inspections. Our experts know what red flags to look for and can recommend the steps you’ll need to take to prevent train derailment. Contact us today to learn more.

rail safety

Federal Government Updates New Railroad Testing Rules

We came across a piece of news regarding railroad safety recently that we think is of interest to anyone in the railroad construction field and interested in rail testing.

Late in August, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced it had updated its rules to allow railroads to use ultrasonic inspection technology — augmented with GPS — for continuous rail testing.

Continuous Rail Testing for Greater Safety

These updated rules will make it easier for railroads to test their rails more often and identify flaws, thus improving safety.

“This rule will allow railroads to use the latest technology to continually monitor safety, which is a big step forward in strengthening safety and reliability on our nation’s railroads,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao said in an FRA news release.

Thanks to this rule, rail testing vehicles can move without stopping along the track, thereby reducing the number of freight and passenger delays typically connected to inspections.

“Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao is a strong advocate for safety through innovation, and these modernized standards will allow railroads to implement innovative inspection methods without the burden of applying for individual waivers with well-established safety records,” FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory said in the news release.

Over the past decade, the FRA has issued waivers to railroad engineering experts at larger companies to use this technology. It has led to a 27-percent decline in broken rail-caused train accidents between May 2019 and May 2020.

Giving all railroads the chance to use this technology can improve the safety record of the entire railroad industry.

These new regulations focus more on performance-based outcoming instead of dictating how companies carry out effective testing.

Rail Testing With New Technologies is the Future

According to the FRA, railroads will be expected to use established methods for required rail inspections but will also have the freedom to use new technologies and methods once they’re proven effective and safe.

Continuous rail testing uses cars outfitted with GPS and ultrasonic technologies examining rails internally and without stopping.

As they move along the track, these cars collect imaging and location data, which they then transmit to monitoring sites so analysts can identify internal rail defects. Depending on how serious the defect is, carriers have 36-84 hours to send out an on-site railroad inspector.

If the railroad inspector verifies the defect, federal regulations call for immediate action, whether that’s repairing or replacing the rail, slowing trains over the defect or taking the track out of service until repairs are made.

The original regulations required vehicles conducting ultrasonic rail tests to repeatedly stop and manually inspect possible defects within four hours.

These frequent starts and stops can slow down train traffic and delay passenger and freight lines and only allows for 20 miles of testing per day. With continuous rail testing, a railroad inspector can test four to eight times as many miles of track per day.

The FRA estimates that one rail car using continuous testing could replace as many as five stop-and verify cars, saving the industry nearly $122 million in 10 years.

We Offer Rail Testing for Midwest Railroads

Have you identified problem areas on your track? R & S Track can help. We pride ourselves on track maintenance and rehab for a variety of industries. Contact us today to learn more or to receive a price estimate.

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