• Concrete Ties

  • General discussion about railroad operations, related facilities, maps, and other resources.
General discussion about railroad operations, related facilities, maps, and other resources.

Moderator: Robert Paniagua

  by USRailFan
(Not sure if this is the correct forum to ask in, but didn't find one related to infrastructure in general, so I am trying this one)

I know BNSF use concrete ties in the northwest, midwest and on the transcon, and that most of the Northeast Corridor and bordering lines have concrete ties as well - are there anywhere else that concrete ties are abundant, or are wooden ties still the norm?

  by AEM7Fan
I know Amtrak's Harrisburg line is putting concrete ties on their line. There are still places on the line where it is wooden ties though. But, they're getting somewhere at least. I never realized BNSF was putting concrete ties out west though.

The entire Florida East Coast Railway is done with concrete ties, welded rail, and every single grade crossing is fully lighted, and has gates ! Probably the most modern "plant" in railroading, in the U.S. Regards :wink:

  by blippo
I know CSX has layed concrete ties in some of their interlockings on the [email protected] Sub, Baltimore Sub, and Phila Sub
We had to go out and catch a dead train about 25 miles outside of Nashvillie the other night and I got my first ride on Concrete ties with continious welded rail. It felt like I was in a Cadalic. Man what a smooth ride.

Nashvillie Newbie

  by SooLineRob
Actually, wooden ties are the norm. Concrete ties seem to be installed on high density main lines (the NEC, single track heavy freight traffic, etc) where yearly track projects would slow traffic to a crawl during scheduled wooden tie replacement. Every 2 to 5 years, a tie gang will replace every third or fourth tie along a main line, not every cross tie. If I remember correctly, a wooden tie has a lifespan of 20-25 years depending on how much traffic (tonnage) goes over them. On high density mains with wooden ties, those ties are scheduled for replacement every 15 years. Concrete ties have a lifespan of 50 years, thereby eliminating main line closures that are needed during wooden tie replacement, usually 8 to 10 hours a day, 4 days a week, 10 to 12 weeks long, averaging 2 to 3 miles per day's work. It's a major project for a railroad to install concrete ties, as the entire section being done must have 100% concrete. The expense of the project must be offset by the savings against delays incurred during wooden tie replacement projects. Class 1 railroads carefully consider the need/benefit of installing concrete ties, especially nowadays with fewer mains / alternate routes / detours available when the primary main must be closed for a track project. A concrete tie project will usually coincide with new highway grade crossings, welded rail, ballast cleaning, undercutting, and turnout replacement. A VERY expensive project, as we can see by the few number of mains that have them...

  by UPRR engineer
Another thing cement ties do is help the cab signals from dropping out. They did an upgrade project here, right before i hired out. The combination of wet ties and soda ash reeked havoc on the cab signals.

Concrete ties do hold up well, untill you put some RR car wheels on them. Then they shatter. New wooden ties can take alot more abuse as far as derailments go.

The new wave of the future is gonna be these plastic composition ties. Theres several in place around Green River as a test, on the mainline and around the yard. I would imagine they last a life time or more.

Also the UP has new machinery that has greatly improved how many cement ties they can lay in a day. I threw that news letter away, so i cant tell you exactly how many miles they can do now. They were bragging about it, so maybe close to 10 miles a day if i remember correctly.

  by SteelWheels21
One of the things I notice working some of the locals out here is that the bigger industries who have done track work have gone with concrete ties as replacements for the regular trackage. We'll be bouncing along on the dirt road that passes for our industrial lead, then when we get inside a facility all of a sudden we're on concrete ties and 133 pound rail. Smooth as glass. They are cutting in a new spur track out near Hinkle yard in Central OR that looks like a high speed line with the concrete ties and the contoured ballast that comes right up to the rail head.

  by MBTA F40PH-2C 1050
On the NEC, some of the interlockings up near boston and in CT, there are still plenty of areas with wooden ties.

some interlockings for example are:

"TRANSFER" Readville

"FOREST" Forest Hills

and from East of Back Bay station to South Station, all wooden ties

  by UPRR engineer
I would bet they dont leave the rock that high, they might tho. I wish they would, its alot better. Kinda hard to inspect the track that way. lol Do you remember that flyer/news letter about our new cement tie construction train there Steel? How many miles a day can they lay?