This report presents the results of an analytical study of technical and economic feasibility of applying the track renewal method of railroad track maintenance in the United States. Track renewal, or out-of-face renewal, has long been the prevailing form of track maintenance used in Europe and has recently spread to Asia, Australia, and North America. Current North American activity is very limited, but the carriers and other elements of the railroad community are becoming increasingly interested in the potential advantages of track renewal as an alternative to selective maintenance. The core of the report consists of a detailed framework for conducting a comparative economic analysis of the track renewal method versus the traditional selective maintenance method. The framework includes detailed descriptions of both methods, unit costs for each major operation under each method, and the comparative present worth long-term costs associated with each method. The framework methodology is presented in detail so that the reader can examine and if necessary modify the built-in assumptions and thereby tailor the framework for application to a specific situation. A sample economic analysis is presented wherein the framework is used to compare the estimated long-term and first-year costs when they are applied to fourteen specific track maintenance scenarios, each of which represents a particular set of assumptions and conditions. The results of the sample analysis include the following: (1) track renewal offers the prospect of large long-term cost savings over selective maintenance, although only under certain circumstances; (2) wood tie reuse is a critical factor in optimizing the long-term savings; (3) with wood tie reuse, track renewal is likely to be $15,000 to $27,000 cheaper per track mile than selective maintenance over time; (4) the internal rate of return for track renewal is likely to be 25--35 percent; (5) the break-even point for first-year costs is about 32 percent tie replacement for installing wood ties and 75 percent for replacing wood with concrete ties; (6) ballast cleaning costs are reduced by about 28 percent with track renewal; and (7) track occupancy time for maintenance is reduced 60--79 percent with track renewal. The report also presents a worldwide survey of present and future track renewal machine technology to enable the reader to consider alternatives to the type of machine assumed in the framework and analysis. Also included is a discussion of the use of track renewal machines for abandoning existing track, building new track, and for other nonmaintenance applications. In addition, there is a brief section on two alternatives to track renewal machine ownership and operation by the railroads: (1) railroad leasing and operation, and (2) railroad purchase of services from contractor owner-operator. The report concludes with the identification of several areas for additional study, principally with respect to the further development and refinement of the framework as a research tool. It also states that the framework should be tested by one or more railroads; the results should be used to strengthen the framework and should also be shared with the railroad community.

  • Record URL:
  • Corporate Authors:

    Unified Industries, Incorporated

    6600 Loisdale Court, Suite 400
    Springfield, VA  United States  22150

    Federal Railroad Administration

    Office of Research and Development, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Authors:
    • CATALDI, G R
    • Elkaim, D N
  • Publication Date: 1980-10

Media Info

  • Features: Figures; Tables;
  • Pagination: 98 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00325733
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: FRA/ORD-80/63 Final Rpt.
  • Contract Numbers: DOT-FR-9044
  • Files: TRIS, USDOT
  • Created Date: Feb 18 1981 12:00AM