National Research Council of Canada. NRC Centre for Surface Transportation Technology
AREMA Track and Structures Conference, September 12-15, Chicago, Illinois
Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) has over 37 years of rail grinding experience and has utilized all types of rail grinding strategies - from corrective to maintenance to preventive. In the early 1990’s, the Burlington Northern Railroad was grinding on a 18 to 40 million gross ton (MGT) interval. They had “caught up” with their rail surface defect problems and the rate of detail fracture defects was declining. In the mid 1990s, however, traffic and tonnage increases, partly stemming from the merger between the Burlington Northern and the Santa Fe railroads, reduced available track time and grinding pass miles, causing the grinding program to fall back into a corrective grinding mode. Rail surface defects and detail fracture rates increased accordingly. The BNSF commissioned the National Research Council Canada (NRC) in 1997 to assist with a transition back to the favored preventive mode of grinding. A new grinding method called the “preventive-gradual” strategy was developed. This technique allows the immediate adoption of preventive grinding intervals without first restoring the rail to a clean surface condition. The rail gradually returns to a damage-free state as additional metal is removed on each pass. The preventive-gradual grinding strategy was implemented on the BNSF’s 8,000 mile Pacific Northwest territory in February 1998. Test sites were established and monitored to evaluate the economic and performance benefits of the preventive gradual strategy compared to other grinding methods. Results after the first year of the program demonstrate that economic considerations favor the preventive-gradual grinding strategy.
Proceedings of the 1999 annual conferences: communications and signals, Baltimore, Maryland, August 29 - September 1, 1999; track and structures, Chicago, Illinois, September 12 - 15, 1999.