I’ve Been Working on the Railroad – How Technology Has Improved Railroad Maintenance and Safety

How Technology Has Improved Railroad Maintenance and Safety

Keeping your tracks properly maintained is paramount to overall safety and we’ve come a long way in the world of tech since 1860, when the first railroad system was built. It might not seem that way to look at what appear to be the same old tracks you’ve always seen, but beneath the surface, there have been leaps and bounds in the tools used to maintain our railroads.

Wayside Detectors: These sensors are put in place to identify problems areas including overheated bearings, damaged wills, dragging hoses, cracked wheels, excessive loads, and other issues presented by railcars as they ride past.

Acoustic Detector Systems: Using infrared technology and acoustic monitoring devices, these systems evaluate the sounds being made by internal bearings to detect potential failure. A faulty wheel bearing gives off a noisy rubbing sound, alerting railroads to early signs of stress.

Ground Penetrating Radar: Railroads are built on a foundation of track ballast to help balance the incredible weight of passing trains. This technology helps identify problems like excessive water penetration and overgrowth of vegetation that may lead to deteriorated ballasts, hindering track stability.

Track Geometry Rail Cars: These cars used electronic and optical instruments to inspect track alignment, gauge, curvature, and other track conditions. These cars have on-board computer systems that provide a sophisticated analysis to detect deviations and determine when a track needs maintenance.

Positive Train Control: In the unfortunate case that preventative measures were not enough, railroad companies have implemented the PTC system. This complex, cutting-edge technology is designed to stop a train automatically in the case an impending accident.

As the years have come and gone, transportation by railroad moves more freight than any other mode. Thanks to the development and investment in technology, railroads are here to stay, continuing their long-standing tradition securely and safely.