Washington, D.C. to buy track inspection vehicle

Posted on February 14, 2008

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's (Metro) board of directors gave preliminary approval to purchase a special railcar, called a track geometry vehicle, which inspects track conditions. Final approval of this venture is expected on Feb. 28, when the full board meets.

A track geometry train will allow Metro to conduct more comprehensive and frequent track inspections throughout the year. Transit officials will be able to secure data from the train to locate any areas where major repairs might require immediate attention. "The new track geometry vehicle will advance the overall safety of the Metrorail system, which is our highest priority," said John Catoe, Metro's general manager.  

Currently, testing of the rails along the 106-mile rail system is conducted five times a year by a special machine after the rail system closes for the night. The machine rides the rails and uses ultrasonic testing to detect cracks or other flaws to ensure that the rails are in good shape. When the machine detects a worn-out piece of track, Metro officials replace it. 

In addition to the overnight testing, track inspectors also visually inspect the rails twice a week to ensure the reliability and safety of the rail system.

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