Two new custom-built inspection vehicles equipped with state-of-the-art technology to help identify track flaws that could lead to train derailments are now in service, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced this week.
FRA Administrator Joseph H. Boardman explained that the new automated track inspection vehicles, known as the T-19 and the T-20, increase the FRA's fleet to five and are primarily used on high-volume rail lines that carry hazardous materials and passenger trains.
The new vehicles measure track geometry flaws such as whether two rails are level, if the width between the rails is acceptable, and if the shape of each rail meets federal standards to avoid derailments. The measurements are recorded in real-time and at operating speed. Problem areas are identified by GPS location and shared immediately with the railroad so corrective actions can be taken in a timely manner, Boardman said.
Acquiring and deploying the inspection vehicles is a major component of the FRA National Rail Safety Action Plan, which focuses on the most frequent, highest-risk causes of train accidents to mitigate potential safety risks.