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Here in Beantown, one of the subway lines has been closed for a month for renovations, including substantial track replacement.

The line has just re-opened, but is running at about half-speed due to what management says is that the new rails have to be "broken in" before trains can be run at full/normal speed.

Just curious if all new railroad rails require a "breaking in" period ?

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@Richie C. posted:

Here in Beantown, one of the subway lines has been closed for a month for renovations, including substantial track replacement.

The line has just re-opened, but is running at about half-speed due to what management says is that the new rails have to be "broken in" before trains can be run at full/normal speed.

Just curious if all new railroad rails require a "breaking in" period ?

Never heard of such crap on the major railroads in the U.S. and Canada! I watched the BNSF install the "sho-fly" for the new, much longer bridge, over the Illinois Tollway, here in Western Springs (about 2 years ago). In talking to the MoW Foreman on a Sunday evening, after they had finished "moving over" main track 3, and connecting each end to the "sho-fly" (they did one track at a time on weekends), he stated that the first train through the "new" main Track  3, would be at 50MPH, then once the rail joints had been thermite welded (after about 2 hours), train speeds would be back to 75/79 MPH. All that had taken place between a Friday night through a Sunday evening.

The same thing happened in reverse, when the complete new bridge was finished, and the "sho-fly" was removed. All new CWR, and once any/all track joints had been thermite welded together, the track speed was back to normal.

@Richie C. posted:

Never heard of it either, but this is the statement they released ......

"MBTA general manager Steve Poftak told the media at a press conference yesterday afternoon that riders will get a "faster, safer, more reliable Orange Line - There will be one additional delay: A few "slow zones" will remain in place until the new track and ballast settles into place."

Well, THAT'S more like it, i.e "...until the new track and ballast settles into place.". Although the big mainline railroads in the U.S. and Canada don't do that, as everything is properly tamped & laser-leveled.

Contrary to what Hot Water wrote, every time on my district that the ballast was disturbed, read that EVERYTIME, there was a slow order over that part of the track for a determined number of trains in order for the track to settle in. Usually with a major disturbance, it started as a 10mph slow order, then increasing to 25mph, then track speed. Less intensive trackwork may have only called for a 25mphslow order. But, there was always a slow order.

Last edited by Big Jim
@bigkid posted:

As far as I know NYC transit continually is replacing rail and the only slowdown I am aware of is when people are working in the area. Knew some people that worked that end of things for the TA and never heard about the need to let it 'setttle in' (maybe one of the guys who have inside knowledge of such things may know for sure).

The elevated and underground sections of the NCYT have no ballast.  Ballast is only used on the sections that run on the ground, primarily in Brooklyn and parts of Queens.

@Big Jim posted:

Contrary to what Hot Water wrote, every time on my district that the ballast was disturbed, read that EVERYTIME, there was a slow order over that part of the track for a determined number of trains in order for the track to settle in. Usually with a major disturbance, it started as a 10mph slow order, then increasing to 25mph, then track speed. Less intensive trackwork may have only called for a 25mphslow order. But, there was always a slow order.

That may very well be the policy on a freight only rail line, but such a practice in the Chicago area on multiple track main lines with hundreds of commuter/passenger trains plus lots and lots of intermodal & freight trains, would NEVER be tolerated .

Just so we’re all on the same switch list here, this “break in” policy has very little to do with the rails themselves.

This “break in” procedure involves the entire track structure; rails, ties, ballast and sub-grade. How long it takes to get back to full track speed would depend on how much work was done to the ties, ballast and sub-grade. It takes some time and a lot of tons passing over the track for things to “settle in” as the PR release says.

@Danr posted:

The elevated and underground sections of the NCYT have no ballast.  Ballast is only used on the sections that run on the ground, primarily in Brooklyn and parts of Queens.

Good point, I ride the subway every day and that didn't even enter my brain....did they ever use ballast in the subway, or did they stop using it when they switched to current construction? Just trying to figure out where i got that from



*note* Was able to answer my own question, they did use ballast originally then at some point switched to the short tie in concrete method they have today. Supposedly some tunnels still have ballast if you believe posters on Quora but I tend to doubt it.

Last edited by bigkid
@bigkid posted:

Good point, I ride the subway every day and that didn't even enter my brain....did they ever use ballast in the subway, or did they stop using it when they switched to current construction? Just trying to figure out where i got that from



*note* Was able to answer my own question, they did use ballast originally then at some point switched to the short tie in concrete method they have today. Supposedly some tunnels still have ballast if you believe posters on Quora but I tend to doubt it.

The cut/cover tunnel in the vicinity of Pelham Parkway on the NYCT Dyre Ave (#5) branch may still have rock ballast. It's been awhile since I rode through there, but that was the case last time.

---PCJ

@Danr posted:

Watching a video, I noticed that the 4 tracks between 8th street and Prince street (Manhattan) are ballasted.  The tracks on either side of the stations are the standard concrete track bed.  Interesting.

I read a reference online that said the Broadway line had ballast, so that would gybe ( I assume this was the N/R). The thing I read didn't say why though.

CTA subway has no ballast can attest as far back as 1980 start of career.

Have worked single tracks above ground and under as flagman many years ago when the track workers replace rail and or switches etc soon as they are done a signal maintainer would be on site for speed to go back to normal.

In block signal territory when done the slow zone signs are taken down to resume normal operation.

Job of flagman was to protect the workers and stop the oncoming trains but have seen motorman as they were called then called operators when conductors were eliminated run pass hit the track trip throwing train in emergency

Then they would be disciplined , if flagman was in error he also would face consequences.

Retired Switchman ATU Local 308

I always enjoyed being the Engineer on a train that was the first one to be allowed maximum authorized speed over a section of track that had been reballasted.  Not only would the track be smooth as glass, but the turbulence caused by a train running 60 or 70 MPH would cause everything behind the engine to be completely enveloped in white dust.

When we were still using cabooses, the rear end crew knew what was coming and would have the waycar closed up as tightly as possible, and would hold wet towels over their faces so that they would not inhale the dust.

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