Metro-North to Purchase Advanced Track Inspection Equipment
May 16th, 2014
Metro-North track engineers will soon have another way to monitor track inspections. The railroad has announced plans to purchase a new track monitoring system that will be mounted on regular train cars to provide continuous inspection data and complement the in-depth inspections performed twice each year.
The two methods are intended to supplement each other and increase the amount of data available to Metro-North track engineers regarding adherence to federally mandated track parameters such as gage, curvature, height and overall alignment.
“Metro-North’s first task is to improve safety on the railroad by all means, including using the latest technology,” said Metro-North President Joseph Giulietti. “We want to know before normal wear and tear turns into a failure. Continuous monitoring of joints and the surface of the rails themselves will keep us on top of maintenance.”
The equipment, known as an Autonomous Track Geometry Inspection System (ATGIS), is mounted on passenger trains moving at regular speeds and will generate continuous data to allow Metro-North to identify track geometry anomalies early and prevent failures.
The plan calls for the purchase of four units, one for each major train equipment type, a diesel locomotive, a diesel-hauled coach, an M8 and an M7, which will provide inspection coverage for all three lines and branches.
The new system will be in addition to semi-annual inspections now performed by a staffed track geometry car.
The ATGIS and the track geometry car inspections address a Federal Railroad Administration recommendation that Metro-North make better use of available technology in its track inspection protocol. They are in addition to the railroad’s ongoing twice-weekly track inspections by qualified Inspectors who walk track and drive high-rail vehicles over the track to look for defects.
Geometry measuring equipment uses laser beams to measure the relationships between different components of the structure and take high resolution photos of the entire 800-mile length of track that Metro-North maintains. Technicians review the data to observe potential flaws such as a missing bolt from a joint bar or a tie plate that is improperly positioned.
To acquire the ATGIS, Metro-North intends to ask the Board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, its parent agency, on Monday to approve a type of procurement called a Request for Proposal, rather than a simple low-bid procurement in which price is the sole determining factor.
Potential vendors will be evaluated on the basis of technical and manufacturing capabilities, past performance, organizational resources, experience of personnel and cost. This purchase will be funded as part of Metro-North’s operating budget.