• How often are rails replaced

  • 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 FarmallBob
roadster wrote:CSX, I have been told, holds CWR to 30 years. (CWR - Continous Welded Rail)
Makes sense!

Mainline CWR is currently being replaced on the CSX Chicago Line just west of Rochester NY.
The rail being lifted is dated 1977 - so it has seen heavy traffic a bit over 30 years.
roadster wrote:Freight railroads generally run more trains during evening and night hours, so day time work delays would have less impact than nights and daylight is certainly safer for all crews (train and work gangs) involved.
The CWR replacement is all being done during daylight hours, I presume for the safety (also productivity...) of the work crews.

Here's a link to a brief album of CWR being replaced on the Chicago Line between Churchville and Bergen in early September 2008.http://farmallbob.rrpicturearchives.net ... x?id=35727
  by gawlikfj
When the ties were replaced every 50 years or so, were the rails also replaced ?
  by Arrestmespi
when it wears out. I've seen rail dating back to 1888 in active yard track there is a piece that is 1885 in a Shop track...
  by SooLineRob
I can't remember exactly where it was, but I recall a location on the former Burlington Northern that saw Powder River Basin coal train traffic.

It was a "medium speed" S-curve on a grade, and the rail in the curves was replaced every two years. Shortest rail lifespan anyone ever knew of...
  by wigwagfan
On a couple branchlines here in Oregon some recent rail replacement projects have pulled up rails dating as far back as the 1890s - when the particular route was re-laid to standard gauge!

One such route was a former Southern Pacific branchline (now the Willamette Valley Railway) in Aumsville, just east of Salem. Another route that I visited just a few weekends ago was the former Spokane, Portland & Seattle Railway's Astoria Line in St. Helens - a recent CWR project (intended for an ethanol plant that didn't last very long) ripped up some rails from when the track was first laid around 1910. And on yard tracks and sidings, such rails are still relatively easy to find.

However thanks to the shortlines taking over the branchlines, the demand for heavier cars (centerbeams, fully loaded grain hoppers), larger locomotives (up to SD45s and run-through UP/BNSF mainline power such as C44-9Ws and SD70s), and programs like ConnectOregon which have provided state funding for many of the track upgrades - the light stick rail is harder to find. The Bailey Branch from Corvallis south to Monroe has some really old 75 pound rail on the "mainline", but the line is out of service and likely to be abandoned soon. There's also a short stretch of rail in Tualatin (P&W Westside District, former SP Newberg Branch) just west of the Tualatin River bridge that has some very light rail. In the last few years, the P&W's Seghers District (Hillsboro to Gaston) and Willamina District (Amity to Willamina) has received CWR replacing the old 75-90 pound iron; the Westside District from McMinnville to Independence was upgraded shortly after P&W took over and a CWR welding plant was actually set up right next to the line (now mothballed).

On the lines that warranted SP investment back in the 1970s and early 1980s (Westside Line north of Corvallis, parts of the Newberg Branch over Rex Hill, much of the Tillamook Branch from Milwaukie to Hillsboro, the Toledo Branch) the rail was often pulled up from the Valley Main and relaid, so the branches would get the 1940-1960 era rail that was welded into CWR when the mainline got the newer rail.
  by MelroseMatt
Was doing consulting work for BNSF the other week on the Crescent Swing Bridge, over the Mississippi between Rock Island and Davenport. The rails, including the mitered sections, that lift up to allow the bridge to swing, are stamped 1928.

Lots of examples of old rail popped up on this thread, but how about old switch points? Its my understanding it shouldn't last as long, because the thin section of the point isn't as strong.
  by Northwest727
The oldest track I have seen was dated 1914...on the abandoned Lorain & West Virginia outside Oberlin, OH.

The Clinton Industrial Branch (or the ex-NYC "Old Road") has rail dated from 1925, it is lightly used by NS.

Several other abandoned lines around the Toledo, OH area are dated from the early 1950's: the backside of Toledo Terminal has rail dated from 1951, and the eastern branch of the Toledo & Ohio Central from 1953.