Discussion:
MBTA takes settlement in concrete tie lawsuit
(too old to reply)
John F. Carr
2011-11-10 14:12:53 UTC
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Raw Message
The MBTA accepted $6 million to settle a $91.5 million lawsuit
demanding replacement cost for defective concrete ties installed
during the 1990s. They were advertised to last 50 years, a term
which apparently did not anticipate their being left out in bad
weather or run over by heavy trains. Around 1995 the manufacturer
got Joe Moakley to lean on the MBTA to buy a product they didn't
want on unfavorable terms.

<http://www.patriotledger.com/mobile/x76458022/MBTA-takes-a-huge-loss-on-faulty-commuter-rail-ties>
--
John Carr (***@mit.edu)
John S
2011-11-11 12:25:30 UTC
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Raw Message
Post by John F. Carr
The MBTA accepted $6 million to settle a $91.5 million lawsuit
demanding replacement cost for defective concrete ties installed
during the 1990s. They were advertised to last 50 years, a term
which apparently did not anticipate their being left out in bad
weather or run over by heavy trains. Around 1995 the manufacturer
got Joe Moakley to lean on the MBTA to buy a product they didn't
want on unfavorable terms.
<http://www.patriotledger.com/mobile/x76458022/MBTA-takes-a-huge-loss-on-faulty-commuter-rail-ties>
Next we will hear that MBTA needs more money or needs to raise fares
because their leadership and money management is so poor. "We were
suckered! But don't bring in new leadership!"

From the story: "The MBTA does not plan on purchasing concrete ties in
the future. The new ties on the OCRR are all wood."

Did anyone at MBTA ever hear of talking to their peer railroads and
learning best practices instead of choosing the worst option or worst
vendor available? Many other railroads buy ties that do NOT crumble
after a few years and have found that (properly constructed) concrete
ties far outlast wood, leading to lower lifetime cost. By the MBTA's
accounting, if these ties are bad, then all concrete ties must be bad....

Great job accepting this low ball settlement too after paying $90M after
paying the full original cost of faulty ties. But when you write
contracts with terms slanted so heavily at the vendor, that's all you
can expect.

Massachusetts government. Suckers appointed by suckers elected by suckers.

Keep re-electing and paying more taxes and fees!
Stephen Sprunk
2011-11-11 15:05:37 UTC
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Raw Message
Post by John S
From the story: "The MBTA does not plan on purchasing concrete ties in
the future. The new ties on the OCRR are all wood."
Did anyone at MBTA ever hear of talking to their peer railroads and
learning best practices instead of choosing the worst option or worst
vendor available?
They're required by law to go with the lowest bid, which usually means
the worst option from the worst vendor.

S
--
Stephen Sprunk "God does not play dice." --Albert Einstein
CCIE #3723 "God is an inveterate gambler, and He throws the
K5SSS dice at every possible opportunity." --Stephen Hawking
Adam H. Kerman
2011-11-11 15:18:25 UTC
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Raw Message
Post by Stephen Sprunk
Post by John S
From the story: "The MBTA does not plan on purchasing concrete ties in
the future. The new ties on the OCRR are all wood."
Did anyone at MBTA ever hear of talking to their peer railroads and
learning best practices instead of choosing the worst option or worst
vendor available?
They're required by law to go with the lowest bid, which usually means
the worst option from the worst vendor.
Typically, they are required to choose the lowest RESPONSIBLE bidder,
and their buyers should be able to specify exactly the product that
they want. They should have been able to specify a specific tie manufactured
according to a specific standard known to survive weather and operating
conditions. They should have tested ties to verify that they received
what they ordered. This isn't rocket science.
Sancho Panza
2011-11-11 17:28:28 UTC
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Raw Message
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by Stephen Sprunk
Post by John S
From the story: "The MBTA does not plan on purchasing concrete ties in
the future. The new ties on the OCRR are all wood."
Did anyone at MBTA ever hear of talking to their peer railroads and
learning best practices instead of choosing the worst option or worst
vendor available?
They're required by law to go with the lowest bid, which usually means
the worst option from the worst vendor.
Typically, they are required to choose the lowest RESPONSIBLE bidder,
and their buyers should be able to specify exactly the product that
they want. They should have been able to specify a specific tie manufactured
according to a specific standard known to survive weather and operating
conditions. They should have tested ties to verify that they received
what they ordered. This isn't rocket science.
The home of M.I.T. clearly prefers science fiction.
Bill
2011-11-12 20:22:54 UTC
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Raw Message
Post by Stephen Sprunk
Post by John S
From the story: "The MBTA does not plan on purchasing concrete ties in
the future. The new ties on the OCRR are all wood."
Did anyone at MBTA ever hear of talking to their peer railroads and
learning best practices instead of choosing the worst option or worst
vendor available?
They're required by law to go with the lowest bid, which usually means
the worst option from the worst vendor.
S
--
Stephen Sprunk         "God does not play dice."  --Albert Einstein
CCIE #3723         "God is an inveterate gambler, and He throws the
K5SSS        dice at every possible opportunity." --Stephen Hawking
You're not from Massachusetts. I do not think that you should be
posting.

1) You do not understand how MBTA bidding works.
2) You do not understand how Commwealth of Mass bidding works.

bill
James Robinson
2011-11-11 15:50:35 UTC
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Raw Message
Post by John S
Post by John F. Carr
The MBTA accepted $6 million to settle a $91.5 million lawsuit
demanding replacement cost for defective concrete ties installed
during the 1990s. They were advertised to last 50 years, a term
which apparently did not anticipate their being left out in bad
weather or run over by heavy trains. Around 1995 the manufacturer
got Joe Moakley to lean on the MBTA to buy a product they didn't
want on unfavorable terms.
<http://www.patriotledger.com/mobile/x76458022/MBTA-takes-a-huge-loss-
on-faulty-commuter-rail-ties>
Next we will hear that MBTA needs more money or needs to raise fares
because their leadership and money management is so poor. "We were
suckered! But don't bring in new leadership!"
Somebody has to pay, and in most cases it ends up being the taxpayer.
Nothing new there. The management is certainly open to question, but what
about the political arm-twisting?
Post by John S
From the story: "The MBTA does not plan on purchasing concrete ties
in the future. The new ties on the OCRR are all wood."
Did anyone at MBTA ever hear of talking to their peer railroads and
learning best practices instead of choosing the worst option or worst
vendor available? Many other railroads buy ties that do NOT crumble
after a few years and have found that (properly constructed) concrete
ties far outlast wood, leading to lower lifetime cost.
There are a number of lawsuits against the concrete tie manufacturers for
ties that have failed shortly after installation. The railroads didn't
fare much better. In some cases, the cause of the failures was never
clearly understood, at least not well enough to sway a jury.
Post by John S
By the MBTA's accounting, if these ties are bad, then all concrete
ties must be bad....
Somebody with some economic sense probably looked at the issue and
figured out that the extra life of concrete wasn't worth the extra cost
involved in a commuter operation. This isn't a heavy-haul railroad where
concrete can withstand impacts better, and can handle frequent rail
replacement more easily. In a discounted cash flow analysis of the
economics, whether a tie lasts 30 years or 50 years has pretty well no
effect on the end result. In short, MBTA was probably right when they
originally went to tender for wooden ties only.
Post by John S
Great job accepting this low ball settlement too after paying $90M
after paying the full original cost of faulty ties. But when you
write contracts with terms slanted so heavily at the vendor, that's
all you can expect.
No vendor in their right mind would agree to indemnify a railroad against
consequential damages. It is up to the purchaser to determine if a
product meets their needs. The tie manufacturer essentially settled for
what would have been the replacement cost of the ties, not including
installation or the cost of any ill effects on MBTA operations. MBTA
settled when it was apparent that the jury would have only agreed to a
similar low payout.
Post by John S
Massachusetts government. Suckers appointed by suckers elected by suckers.
Keep re-electing and paying more taxes and fees!
Point to a better system of government.
Adam H. Kerman
2011-11-11 16:18:14 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by James Robinson
Post by John S
Post by John F. Carr
The MBTA accepted $6 million to settle a $91.5 million lawsuit
demanding replacement cost for defective concrete ties installed
during the 1990s. They were advertised to last 50 years, a term
which apparently did not anticipate their being left out in bad
weather or run over by heavy trains. Around 1995 the manufacturer
got Joe Moakley to lean on the MBTA to buy a product they didn't
want on unfavorable terms.
http://www.patriotledger.com/mobile/x76458022/MBTA-takes-a-huge-loss-on-faulty-commuter-rail-ties
Next we will hear that MBTA needs more money or needs to raise fares
because their leadership and money management is so poor. "We were
suckered! But don't bring in new leadership!"
Somebody has to pay, and in most cases it ends up being the taxpayer.
Nothing new there. The management is certainly open to question, but what
about the political arm-twisting?
Post by John S
From the story: "The MBTA does not plan on purchasing concrete ties
in the future. The new ties on the OCRR are all wood."
Did anyone at MBTA ever hear of talking to their peer railroads and
learning best practices instead of choosing the worst option or worst
vendor available? Many other railroads buy ties that do NOT crumble
after a few years and have found that (properly constructed) concrete
ties far outlast wood, leading to lower lifetime cost.
There are a number of lawsuits against the concrete tie manufacturers for
ties that have failed shortly after installation. The railroads didn't
fare much better. In some cases, the cause of the failures was never
clearly understood, at least not well enough to sway a jury.
Post by John S
By the MBTA's accounting, if these ties are bad, then all concrete
ties must be bad....
Somebody with some economic sense probably looked at the issue and
figured out that the extra life of concrete wasn't worth the extra cost
involved in a commuter operation. This isn't a heavy-haul railroad where
concrete can withstand impacts better, and can handle frequent rail
replacement more easily. In a discounted cash flow analysis of the
economics, whether a tie lasts 30 years or 50 years has pretty well no
effect on the end result. In short, MBTA was probably right when they
originally went to tender for wooden ties only.
Amtrak installed concrete ties on its portion of the right-of-way for
the north approach to Chicago Union Station. I thought it was foolish.
There's not been a freight train through the station in well over a
decade, although there is a short radius curve in the terminal area.
Post by James Robinson
Post by John S
Great job accepting this low ball settlement too after paying $90M
after paying the full original cost of faulty ties. But when you
write contracts with terms slanted so heavily at the vendor, that's
all you can expect.
No vendor in their right mind would agree to indemnify a railroad against
consequential damages. It is up to the purchaser to determine if a
product meets their needs. The tie manufacturer essentially settled for
what would have been the replacement cost of the ties, not including
installation or the cost of any ill effects on MBTA operations. MBTA
settled when it was apparent that the jury would have only agreed to a
similar low payout.
I don't understand your position. This is a warrantee situation,
extremely common business terms. Why wouldn't the product have been
warranteed, at least on a depreciation schedule?
James Robinson
2011-11-11 18:45:17 UTC
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Raw Message
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by James Robinson
Somebody with some economic sense probably looked at the issue and
figured out that the extra life of concrete wasn't worth the extra
cost involved in a commuter operation. This isn't a heavy-haul
railroad where concrete can withstand impacts better, and can handle
frequent rail replacement more easily. In a discounted cash flow
analysis of the economics, whether a tie lasts 30 years or 50 years
has pretty well no effect on the end result. In short, MBTA was
probably right when they originally went to tender for wooden ties
only.
Amtrak installed concrete ties on its portion of the right-of-way for
the north approach to Chicago Union Station. I thought it was foolish.
There's not been a freight train through the station in well over a
decade, although there is a short radius curve in the terminal area.
There can be some justification for using concrete ties in heavy traffic
areas, since once they have been installed, maintenance tends to be
lower, and thus traffic disruption tends to be lower. It's why UP uses
concrete ties on the lightly-curving tracks in Nebraska where they have
150 or 200 trains a day, while most other concrete tie applications tend
to be restricted to heavily curving territory with heavy tonnage.
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by James Robinson
Post by John S
Great job accepting this low ball settlement too after paying $90M
after paying the full original cost of faulty ties. But when you
write contracts with terms slanted so heavily at the vendor, that's
all you can expect.
No vendor in their right mind would agree to indemnify a railroad
against consequential damages. It is up to the purchaser to determine
if a product meets their needs. The tie manufacturer essentially
settled for what would have been the replacement cost of the ties,
not including installation or the cost of any ill effects on MBTA
operations. MBTA settled when it was apparent that the jury would
have only agreed to a similar low payout.
I don't understand your position. This is a warrantee situation,
extremely common business terms. Why wouldn't the product have been
warranteed, at least on a depreciation schedule?
Read what I wrote again. I was talking about consequential damages, not
replacement warranties.

Consider an extreme case of something like the light bulb used in
traditional signals. For argument, lets say they cost two dollars. As a
manufacturer, I might give a warranty that covers defects in materials or
manufacturing. If, after the bulbs are installed, the bases start
dropping off because of bad adhesive, I would then provide a replacement
bulb for each failed bulb. Given the two dollar value of the bulb, no
way would I even consider covering the cost of the maintainer to make the
replacment, nor would I cover the extra cost of any trains that might
have had to stop because the bulb wasn't working. Those costs would be in
the hundreds of dollars, and would quickly bankrupt me as a manufacturer.

The same concept applies to the concrete tie manufacturer. My
interpretation of the article is that the negotiated settlement is for a
monetary amount equivalent to the original price of the ties, and MBTA
didn't get the cost of the installation and removal of the ties, which
they had wanted in addition to the cost of the ties, and was the point of
the lawsuit. The settlement was in accord with the warranty originally
provided by the manufacturer.
Adam H. Kerman
2011-11-11 18:58:18 UTC
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Raw Message
Post by James Robinson
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by James Robinson
Somebody with some economic sense probably looked at the issue and
figured out that the extra life of concrete wasn't worth the extra
cost involved in a commuter operation. This isn't a heavy-haul
railroad where concrete can withstand impacts better, and can handle
frequent rail replacement more easily. In a discounted cash flow
analysis of the economics, whether a tie lasts 30 years or 50 years
has pretty well no effect on the end result. In short, MBTA was
probably right when they originally went to tender for wooden ties
only.
Amtrak installed concrete ties on its portion of the right-of-way for
the north approach to Chicago Union Station. I thought it was foolish.
There's not been a freight train through the station in well over a
decade, although there is a short radius curve in the terminal area.
There can be some justification for using concrete ties in heavy traffic
areas, since once they have been installed, maintenance tends to be
lower, and thus traffic disruption tends to be lower.
What's the maintenance scenario here? I don't recall seeing frequent
maintenance, ever, when ties were wooden.
Post by James Robinson
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by James Robinson
Post by John S
Great job accepting this low ball settlement too after paying $90M
after paying the full original cost of faulty ties. But when you
write contracts with terms slanted so heavily at the vendor, that's
all you can expect.
No vendor in their right mind would agree to indemnify a railroad
against consequential damages. It is up to the purchaser to determine
if a product meets their needs. The tie manufacturer essentially
settled for what would have been the replacement cost of the ties,
not including installation or the cost of any ill effects on MBTA
operations. MBTA settled when it was apparent that the jury would
have only agreed to a similar low payout.
I don't understand your position. This is a warrantee situation,
extremely common business terms. Why wouldn't the product have been
warranteed, at least on a depreciation schedule?
Read what I wrote again. I was talking about consequential damages, not
replacement warranties.
I read what you wrote, but I don't understand why you wrote it. The OP
wasn't discussing consequential damages, just warrantee.

You're flat out wrong treating replacement cost as consequential damage.
James Robinson
2011-11-11 20:15:04 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by James Robinson
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by James Robinson
Somebody with some economic sense probably looked at the issue and
figured out that the extra life of concrete wasn't worth the extra
cost involved in a commuter operation. This isn't a heavy-haul
railroad where concrete can withstand impacts better, and can handle
frequent rail replacement more easily. In a discounted cash flow
analysis of the economics, whether a tie lasts 30 years or 50 years
has pretty well no effect on the end result. In short, MBTA was
probably right when they originally went to tender for wooden ties
only.
Amtrak installed concrete ties on its portion of the right-of-way for
the north approach to Chicago Union Station. I thought it was
foolish. There's not been a freight train through the station in well
over a decade, although there is a short radius curve in the terminal
area.
There can be some justification for using concrete ties in heavy
traffic areas, since once they have been installed, maintenance tends
to be lower, and thus traffic disruption tends to be lower.
What's the maintenance scenario here? I don't recall seeing frequent
maintenance, ever, when ties were wooden.
In very curving territory with high tonnage, the railroads have to
transpose or replace the rails as frequently as every 8 or 9 months.
Every time they do that with a wooden tie, the spikes have to be pulled
out to remove the rail, and new spike have to be hammered in to hold the
new rails. To keep everything tight, a plug is often inserted in the
hole to hold the replacement spike tightly in place. However, this can
only be done a couple of times before the tie becomes "spike killed", and
has to be thrown away.

With a concrete tie, the clips are simply knocked out, the rail replaced,
and the clips are reinserted with virtually no tie damage. Thus, the
ties last much longer.

Another issue is gauge holding. On heavily curved territory with lots of
heavy trains, the spikes holding the rails in place will work back and
forth in the hole in the tie, resulting in the distance between the rails
getting progressively wider and wider. If not corrected, a train will
eventually drop through the gauge and derail. Concrete ties don't have
this problem to the same extent.

This isn't to say that concrete ties are maintenance-free, just that they
require less maintenance and there is less traffic disruption when
mainteannce is undertaken.

In the approach to passenger stations, the feeling is that once the ties
are in place, you don't have to worry about them for 50 or more years.
Any rail replacements are easily accomplished without the need to pull
and respike things. Hence, less disruption to passenger flows.
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by James Robinson
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by James Robinson
Post by John S
Great job accepting this low ball settlement too after paying $90M
after paying the full original cost of faulty ties. But when you
write contracts with terms slanted so heavily at the vendor, that's
all you can expect.
No vendor in their right mind would agree to indemnify a railroad
against consequential damages. It is up to the purchaser to
determine if a product meets their needs. The tie manufacturer
essentially settled for what would have been the replacement cost of
the ties, not including installation or the cost of any ill effects
on MBTA operations. MBTA settled when it was apparent that the jury
would have only agreed to a similar low payout.
I don't understand your position. This is a warrantee situation,
extremely common business terms. Why wouldn't the product have been
warranteed, at least on a depreciation schedule?
Read what I wrote again. I was talking about consequential damages,
not replacement warranties.
I read what you wrote, but I don't understand why you wrote it. The OP
wasn't discussing consequential damages, just warrantee.
In addition to the purchase cost of the ties, the MBTA lawsuit was also
asking to recover the cost of removal, disposal, and the installation of
replacements. The warranty was specifically limited to three years,
which had already expired, and to the cost of replacement ties. No other
direct or consequential damages were covered by the warranty. The tie
manufactuer essentially agreed to abide by the terms of the warranty even
though it had expired, and the MBTA was replacing ties that hadn't
failed.

I was simply pointing out that it was naive to think that a vendor would
indemnify a railroad for $90 million, plus punitive damages, when the
total sale price of the ties was only $9 million, and the vendor's
anticipated profit would have been far less than that.
Post by Adam H. Kerman
You're flat out wrong treating replacement cost as consequential damage.
You are correct, I was being loose with the terms, since the MBTA was
also trying to get treble damages by convincing a jury that the tie
manufacturer had engaged in fraud in claiming a 50 year tie life.
Marc Van Dyck
2011-11-13 21:04:03 UTC
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Raw Message
Post by James Robinson
In very curving territory with high tonnage, the railroads have to
transpose or replace the rails as frequently as every 8 or 9 months.
Every time they do that with a wooden tie, the spikes have to be pulled
out to remove the rail, and new spike have to be hammered in to hold the
new rails. To keep everything tight, a plug is often inserted in the
hole to hold the replacement spike tightly in place. However, this can
only be done a couple of times before the tie becomes "spike killed", and
has to be thrown away.
That problem we solved by placing a metal piece between the tie and
the rail. That metal piece is bolted to the tie, which does not
have to be touched when the rail is changed.

See http://www.tassignon.be/trains/cecf/tomeIII_I/C_E_C_F_III_I.htm#p38
part II, chapter 1, section 10, fig 50 & 51. The book is in french,
but those drawings easily speak for themselves.

And, by the way, wodden ties still have a definitive advantage over
concrete ones : they don't break. We have had cases where a few axles
on a heavy train (iron ore, coal, that sort of things) derailed, and
because the engineer did not realize it, proceeded and smashed all
concrete ties along the way. The result was miles of ties, almost new,
to be replaced. On wooden ties, the result would have been a small mark
on the tie surface, but no need to replace them. The train finally
stopped when the derailed axles hit a turnout.
--
Marc Van Dyck
James Robinson
2011-11-13 21:31:16 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Marc Van Dyck
Post by James Robinson
In very curving territory with high tonnage, the railroads have to
transpose or replace the rails as frequently as every 8 or 9 months.
Every time they do that with a wooden tie, the spikes have to be
pulled out to remove the rail, and new spike have to be hammered in
to hold the new rails. To keep everything tight, a plug is often
inserted in the hole to hold the replacement spike tightly in place.
However, this can only be done a couple of times before the tie
becomes "spike killed", and has to be thrown away.
That problem we solved by placing a metal piece between the tie and
the rail. That metal piece is bolted to the tie, which does not
have to be touched when the rail is changed.
Everybody with any amount of traffic uses tieplates. What saves wooden
ties when the rail needs to be changed out often is upgrading the
fastening system to something like Pandrol clips. However, that costs
extra money. Spikes and tieplates are cheap.

Premium fasteners add significantly to the cost. They add enough that in
most cases, concrete ties become economically the better choice. That
said, there are a few places with medium density traffic where wooden
crossties with premium fastenings make economic sense.
Bill
2011-11-12 20:24:56 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by James Robinson
Post by John S
Post by John F. Carr
The MBTA accepted $6 million to settle a $91.5 million lawsuit
demanding replacement cost for defective concrete ties installed
during the 1990s.  They were advertised to last 50 years, a term
which apparently did not anticipate their being left out in bad
weather or run over by heavy trains.  Around 1995 the manufacturer
got Joe Moakley to lean on the MBTA to buy a product they didn't
want on unfavorable terms.
http://www.patriotledger.com/mobile/x76458022/MBTA-takes-a-huge-loss-...
Next we will hear that MBTA needs more money or needs to raise fares
because their leadership and money management is so poor.  "We were
suckered!  But don't bring in new leadership!"
Somebody has to pay, and in most cases it ends up being the taxpayer.
Nothing new there. The management is certainly open to question, but what
about the political arm-twisting?
Post by John S
From the story: "The MBTA does not plan on purchasing concrete ties
in the future. The new ties on the OCRR are all wood."
Did anyone at MBTA ever hear of talking to their peer railroads and
learning best practices instead of choosing the worst option or worst
vendor available?  Many other railroads buy ties that do NOT crumble
after a few years and have found that (properly constructed) concrete
ties far outlast wood, leading to lower lifetime cost.
There are a number of lawsuits against the concrete tie manufacturers for
ties that have failed shortly after installation. The railroads didn't
fare much better. In some cases, the cause of the failures was never
clearly understood, at least not well enough to sway a jury.
Post by John S
By the MBTA's accounting, if these ties are bad, then all concrete
ties must be bad....
Somebody with some economic sense probably looked at the issue and
figured out that the extra life of concrete wasn't worth the extra cost
involved in a commuter operation.  This isn't a heavy-haul railroad where
concrete can withstand impacts better, and can handle frequent rail
replacement more easily.  In a discounted cash flow analysis of the
economics, whether a tie lasts 30 years or 50 years has pretty well no
effect on the end result.  In short, MBTA was probably right when they
originally went to tender for wooden ties only.
Amtrak installed concrete ties on its portion of the right-of-way for
the north approach to Chicago Union Station. I thought it was foolish.
There's not been a freight train through the station in well over a
decade, although there is a short radius curve in the terminal area.
Post by James Robinson
Post by John S
Great job accepting this low ball settlement too after paying $90M
after paying the full original cost of faulty ties.  But when you
write contracts with terms slanted so heavily at the vendor, that's
all you can expect.
No vendor in their right mind would agree to indemnify a railroad against
consequential damages. It is up to the purchaser to determine if a
product meets their needs.  The tie manufacturer essentially settled for
what would have been the replacement cost of the ties, not including
installation or the cost of any ill effects on MBTA operations.  MBTA
settled when it was apparent that the jury would have only agreed to a
similar low payout.
I don't understand your position. This is a warrantee situation,
extremely common business terms. Why wouldn't the product have been
warranteed, at least on a depreciation schedule?
It was.

The manufacturer also went bankrupt.

Bill
Adam H. Kerman
2011-11-12 21:12:05 UTC
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Raw Message
Post by Bill
Post by Adam H. Kerman
I don't understand your position. This is a warrantee situation,
extremely common business terms. Why wouldn't the product have been
warranteed, at least on a depreciation schedule?
It was.
You're not being forthcoming with facts. We've been told three years,
a bit of a joke for a product meant to last 50 years. Do you know
something different?
Post by Bill
The manufacturer also went bankrupt.
Was there a bond put up?
Bill
2011-11-12 22:41:23 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by Bill
Post by Adam H. Kerman
I don't understand your position. This is a warrantee situation,
extremely common business terms. Why wouldn't the product have been
warranteed, at least on a depreciation schedule?
It was.
You're not being forthcoming with facts. We've been told three years,
a bit of a joke for a product meant to last 50 years. Do you know
something different?
Post by Bill
The manufacturer also went bankrupt.
Was there a bond put up?
Bond requirements don't really mean much around here. This is my
personal take on such.

3 Years is not unreasonable. 3 years is equivalent to make car
warranties. A Manufacturer has to make a reasonable consideration
of selling valuation and risks of error of faults being considered as
from
manufacturing defects.

All of these ties had Pandrol clips, too.

All of the grade crossings had hard rubber mats, which have been
replaced with asphalt.

bill
Adam H. Kerman
2011-11-13 00:28:38 UTC
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Raw Message
Post by Bill
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by Bill
Post by Adam H. Kerman
I don't understand your position. This is a warrantee situation,
extremely common business terms. Why wouldn't the product have been
warranteed, at least on a depreciation schedule?
It was.
You're not being forthcoming with facts. We've been told three years,
a bit of a joke for a product meant to last 50 years. Do you know
something different?
Post by Bill
The manufacturer also went bankrupt.
Was there a bond put up?
Bond requirements don't really mean much around here. This is my
personal take on such.
Federal regs require bonds under many circumstances.
Post by Bill
3 Years is not unreasonable. 3 years is equivalent to make car
warranties.
Your analogy stinks. Cars aren't sold on the basis of decades and decades
and decades of life.
Post by Bill
A Manufacturer has to make a reasonable consideration
of selling valuation and risks of error of faults being considered as
from
manufacturing defects.
All of these ties had Pandrol clips, too.
I don't know why use of Pandrol clips is faulty installation; thought
those were common.
Post by Bill
All of the grade crossings had hard rubber mats, which have been
replaced with asphalt.
Fine. I assume the bad ties weren't limited to grade crossings.
John S
2011-11-11 17:16:02 UTC
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Raw Message
Post by James Robinson
Post by John S
Post by John F. Carr
The MBTA accepted $6 million to settle a $91.5 million lawsuit
demanding replacement cost for defective concrete ties installed
during the 1990s. They were advertised to last 50 years, a term
which apparently did not anticipate their being left out in bad
weather or run over by heavy trains. Around 1995 the manufacturer
got Joe Moakley to lean on the MBTA to buy a product they didn't
want on unfavorable terms.
<http://www.patriotledger.com/mobile/x76458022/MBTA-takes-a-huge-loss-
on-faulty-commuter-rail-ties>
Next we will hear that MBTA needs more money or needs to raise fares
because their leadership and money management is so poor. "We were
suckered! But don't bring in new leadership!"
Somebody has to pay, and in most cases it ends up being the taxpayer.
Nothing new there. The management is certainly open to question, but what
about the political arm-twisting?
Which are you speaking of?
Post by James Robinson
Post by John S
From the story: "The MBTA does not plan on purchasing concrete ties
in the future. The new ties on the OCRR are all wood."
Did anyone at MBTA ever hear of talking to their peer railroads and
learning best practices instead of choosing the worst option or worst
vendor available? Many other railroads buy ties that do NOT crumble
after a few years and have found that (properly constructed) concrete
ties far outlast wood, leading to lower lifetime cost.
There are a number of lawsuits against the concrete tie manufacturers for
ties that have failed shortly after installation. The railroads didn't
fare much better. In some cases, the cause of the failures was never
clearly understood, at least not well enough to sway a jury.
So, all concrete ties just fall apart shortly after installation?
Funny, but they are used extensively in Europe...do they have the same
issues?
Post by James Robinson
Post by John S
By the MBTA's accounting, if these ties are bad, then all concrete
ties must be bad....
Somebody with some economic sense probably looked at the issue and
figured out that the extra life of concrete wasn't worth the extra cost
involved in a commuter operation. This isn't a heavy-haul railroad where
concrete can withstand impacts better, and can handle frequent rail
replacement more easily.
The DC Metro (hardly a heavy haul railroad) uses quite a bit of cement
ties, why?

In a discounted cash flow analysis of the
Post by James Robinson
economics, whether a tie lasts 30 years or 50 years has pretty well no
effect on the end result. In short, MBTA was probably right when they
originally went to tender for wooden ties only.
Except they originally ordered concrete, not wood.
Post by James Robinson
Post by John S
Great job accepting this low ball settlement too after paying $90M
after paying the full original cost of faulty ties. But when you
write contracts with terms slanted so heavily at the vendor, that's
all you can expect.
No vendor in their right mind would agree to indemnify a railroad against
consequential damages. It is up to the purchaser to determine if a
product meets their needs. The tie manufacturer essentially settled for
what would have been the replacement cost of the ties, not including
installation or the cost of any ill effects on MBTA operations. MBTA
settled when it was apparent that the jury would have only agreed to a
similar low payout.
Post by John S
Massachusetts government. Suckers appointed by suckers elected by suckers.
Keep re-electing and paying more taxes and fees!
Point to a better system of government.
One that has more than one party, and doesn't have the last three
speakers of the house indicted/found guilty just for starters....
James Robinson
2011-11-11 18:59:01 UTC
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Raw Message
Post by John S
Post by James Robinson
Post by John S
Next we will hear that MBTA needs more money or needs to raise fares
because their leadership and money management is so poor. "We were
suckered! But don't bring in new leadership!"
Somebody has to pay, and in most cases it ends up being the taxpayer.
Nothing new there. The management is certainly open to question, but
what about the political arm-twisting?
Which are you speaking of?
The article says that the MBTA originally went to tender for wooden ties
only, and that a US Representative was lobbied by the concrete tie
manufacturer to include concrete ties, so under political pressure, the
MBTA subsequently reissued a broader tender for both types. Did the MBTA
really want concrete ties?
Post by John S
Post by James Robinson
Post by John S
Did anyone at MBTA ever hear of talking to their peer railroads and
learning best practices instead of choosing the worst option or
worst vendor available? Many other railroads buy ties that do NOT
crumble after a few years and have found that (properly constructed)
concrete ties far outlast wood, leading to lower lifetime cost.
There are a number of lawsuits against the concrete tie manufacturers
for ties that have failed shortly after installation. The railroads
didn't fare much better. In some cases, the cause of the failures was
never clearly understood, at least not well enough to sway a jury.
So, all concrete ties just fall apart shortly after installation?
Funny, but they are used extensively in Europe...do they have the same
issues?
No, all concrete ties don't fall apart, but a number did, like on
Amtrak's NEC and on a couple of class one railroads. By the time the
MBTA went to tender, this was pretty well known in the industry. There
has been some debate as to why they failed, but the most common
suggestion is because of the chemical composition of the aggregates used
by some of the manufacturers, and how it wasn't compatible with the
Portland cement. The problem is that it took many years for the ties to
fail, and it could take many years more to determine with certainty why
they failed.
Post by John S
Post by James Robinson
Post by John S
By the MBTA's accounting, if these ties are bad, then all concrete
ties must be bad....
Somebody with some economic sense probably looked at the issue and
figured out that the extra life of concrete wasn't worth the extra
cost involved in a commuter operation. This isn't a heavy-haul
railroad where concrete can withstand impacts better, and can handle
frequent rail replacement more easily.
The DC Metro (hardly a heavy haul railroad) uses quite a bit of cement
ties, why?
They have their hands in the pockets of the taxpayers of Virginia,
Maryland, DC and the Feds. What more reason do they need?
Post by John S
Post by James Robinson
In a discounted cash flow analysis of the
economics, whether a tie lasts 30 years or 50 years has pretty well
no effect on the end result. In short, MBTA was probably right when
they originally went to tender for wooden ties only.
Except they originally ordered concrete, not wood.
A quote from the article:

"In its court filings, the T presented documents that showed the agency
asked for bids in 1993 for wooden ties and declined to consider concrete
ties because of prior problems. But the T says in its court briefs the
bid specifications were rewritten for concrete ties after Rocla officials
met with then-US. Rep. Joe Moakley to lobby for his help."
Post by John S
Post by James Robinson
Post by John S
Massachusetts government. Suckers appointed by suckers elected by suckers.
Keep re-electing and paying more taxes and fees!
Point to a better system of government.
One that has more than one party, and doesn't have the last three
speakers of the house indicted/found guilty just for starters....
Nothing wrong with the system, the voters only have themselves to blame.
Sancho Panza
2011-11-11 20:44:40 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
All concrete ties don't fall apart, but a number did, like on
Amtrak's NEC and on a couple of class one railroads. By the time the
MBTA went to tender, this was pretty well known in the industry. There
has been some debate as to why they failed, but the most common
suggestion is because of the chemical composition of the aggregates used
by some of the manufacturers, and how it wasn't compatible with the
Portland cement. The problem is that it took many years for the ties to
fail, and it could take many years more to determine with certainty why
they failed.
AFX News Limited
Amtrak warns of bad ties in Northeast
02.28.08, 9:41 AM ET

WASHINGTON (AP) - Amtrak must spend tens of millions of dollars to
replace defective ties on the heavily traveled Northeast Corridor or
risk delays and loss of business, the railroad warns.

The concrete ties were purchased beginning in the 1990s and have already
begun to crack, Amtrak spokesman Cliff Black said Wednesday. Concrete
ties normally last about 50 years. If concrete ties fracture severely,
they can't properly support the rails, Black said. He stressed that the
problem does not pose a danger because it was caught early and is being
addressed.

The total cost of fixing the problem is still unclear. But in its annual
funding request to Congress last week, Amtrak said it expects to spend
at least $23.5 million on it this year alone. Costs are likely to be
similar next year, Black said.

The ties are made by Rocla Concrete Tie Inc. at a plant in an Amtrak
maintenance yard in Bear, Del. Under the terms of the contract, Amtrak
said, the supplier must replace the defective ties for free but won't
reimburse Amtrak for the labor.

'Amtrak and Rocla are working together to ensure that the replacement
ties that they are providing us are top quality,' Black said. 'Amtrak is
comfortable that the manufacturer has corrected the problem.'

It's not the first time Rocla has been blamed for defects. New York's
Metro-North commuter railroad sued the company in 2006 for premature
cracks in ties purchased in 1997. The case was settled out of court.

Rocla agreed to replace the ties as part of the settlement, Metro-North
spokesman Dan Brucker said. That process is expected to be completed
within the next three years, Brucker said.

The president of Denver-based Rocla, Peter Urquhart, declined to comment
Wednesday on Amtrak's concerns.

The cracking was first spotted in the fall, Black said. Since then,
Amtrak has been implementing speed restrictions, known as slow orders,
on sections of track between Washington and Boston.

'This is a critical problem, since tie-related slow orders are already
delaying trains on the Corridor,' Amtrak Chief Executive Alex Kummant
wrote in the $1.67 billion funding request. . . .

So far Amtrak has replaced about 5,000 defective ties on a spot basis,
lifting slow orders as the problem spots are fixed. In the spring, the
railroad plans to begin using a track-laying machine to replace ties
systematically, Black said. . . .

Black said he did not know how many of the 3.4 million concrete ties on
the corridor were supplied by Rocla since Amtrak began doing business
with the company in the early 1990s. According to the Web site for Rocla
Pty Ltd., based in Chatswood, Australia, its U.S. affiliate produced
895,000 for Amtrak and Metro-North from 1996 to 1999. The U.S. company
is no longer part of Rocla Pty Ltd.
John S
2011-11-12 05:04:51 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by James Robinson
Post by John S
Post by James Robinson
Post by John S
Next we will hear that MBTA needs more money or needs to raise fares
because their leadership and money management is so poor. "We were
suckered! But don't bring in new leadership!"
Somebody has to pay, and in most cases it ends up being the taxpayer.
Nothing new there. The management is certainly open to question, but
what about the political arm-twisting?
Which are you speaking of?
The article says that the MBTA originally went to tender for wooden ties
only, and that a US Representative was lobbied by the concrete tie
manufacturer to include concrete ties, so under political pressure, the
MBTA subsequently reissued a broader tender for both types. Did the MBTA
really want concrete ties?
So the concrete AND wooden ties were permitted in the RFP and concrete
won? On what basis, since (one might think) wooden ties are a less
expensive procurement.
Post by James Robinson
Post by John S
Post by James Robinson
Post by John S
Did anyone at MBTA ever hear of talking to their peer railroads and
learning best practices instead of choosing the worst option or
worst vendor available? Many other railroads buy ties that do NOT
crumble after a few years and have found that (properly constructed)
concrete ties far outlast wood, leading to lower lifetime cost.
There are a number of lawsuits against the concrete tie manufacturers
for ties that have failed shortly after installation. The railroads
didn't fare much better. In some cases, the cause of the failures was
never clearly understood, at least not well enough to sway a jury.
So, all concrete ties just fall apart shortly after installation?
Funny, but they are used extensively in Europe...do they have the same
issues?
No, all concrete ties don't fall apart, but a number did, like on
Amtrak's NEC and on a couple of class one railroads. By the time the
MBTA went to tender, this was pretty well known in the industry. There
has been some debate as to why they failed, but the most common
suggestion is because of the chemical composition of the aggregates used
by some of the manufacturers, and how it wasn't compatible with the
Portland cement. The problem is that it took many years for the ties to
fail, and it could take many years more to determine with certainty why
they failed.
Why would it take "many years" to determine if the concrete either meets
spec or not??? If there is one thing that Massachusetts has experience
in, it is faulty concrete. (See big dig). If they can't determine if
concrete meets spec, perhaps they should use a better lab....
Post by James Robinson
Post by John S
Post by James Robinson
Post by John S
By the MBTA's accounting, if these ties are bad, then all concrete
ties must be bad....
Somebody with some economic sense probably looked at the issue and
figured out that the extra life of concrete wasn't worth the extra
cost involved in a commuter operation. This isn't a heavy-haul
railroad where concrete can withstand impacts better, and can handle
frequent rail replacement more easily.
The DC Metro (hardly a heavy haul railroad) uses quite a bit of cement
ties, why?
They have their hands in the pockets of the taxpayers of Virginia,
Maryland, DC and the Feds. What more reason do they need?
So you are suggesting that the railroad ties used by DC Metro are
incorrect or faulty? Where is your supporting evidence?
Post by James Robinson
Post by John S
Post by James Robinson
In a discounted cash flow analysis of the
economics, whether a tie lasts 30 years or 50 years has pretty well
no effect on the end result. In short, MBTA was probably right when
they originally went to tender for wooden ties only.
Except they originally ordered concrete, not wood.
"In its court filings, the T presented documents that showed the agency
asked for bids in 1993 for wooden ties and declined to consider concrete
ties because of prior problems. But the T says in its court briefs the
bid specifications were rewritten for concrete ties after Rocla officials
met with then-US. Rep. Joe Moakley to lobby for his help."
Post by John S
Post by James Robinson
Post by John S
Massachusetts government. Suckers appointed by suckers elected by suckers.
Keep re-electing and paying more taxes and fees!
Point to a better system of government.
One that has more than one party, and doesn't have the last three
speakers of the house indicted/found guilty just for starters....
Nothing wrong with the system, the voters only have themselves to blame.
And there is plenty to blame.
James Robinson
2011-11-12 07:52:17 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by John S
Post by James Robinson
Post by John S
Post by James Robinson
Post by John S
Next we will hear that MBTA needs more money or needs to raise
fares because their leadership and money management is so poor.
"We were suckered! But don't bring in new leadership!"
Somebody has to pay, and in most cases it ends up being the
taxpayer. Nothing new there. The management is certainly open to
question, but what about the political arm-twisting?
Which are you speaking of?
The article says that the MBTA originally went to tender for wooden
ties only, and that a US Representative was lobbied by the concrete
tie manufacturer to include concrete ties, so under political
pressure, the MBTA subsequently reissued a broader tender for both
types. Did the MBTA really want concrete ties?
So the concrete AND wooden ties were permitted in the RFP and concrete
won? On what basis, since (one might think) wooden ties are a less
expensive procurement.
The articles don't say what criteria they used to compare the prices of
the two types. Obviously, they must have done some sort of economic life
cycle assessment of the two types.
Post by John S
Post by James Robinson
Post by John S
Post by James Robinson
Post by John S
Did anyone at MBTA ever hear of talking to their peer railroads
and learning best practices instead of choosing the worst option
or worst vendor available? Many other railroads buy ties that do
NOT crumble after a few years and have found that (properly
constructed) concrete ties far outlast wood, leading to lower
lifetime cost.
There are a number of lawsuits against the concrete tie
manufacturers for ties that have failed shortly after installation.
The railroads didn't fare much better. In some cases, the cause of
the failures was never clearly understood, at least not well enough
to sway a jury.
So, all concrete ties just fall apart shortly after installation?
Funny, but they are used extensively in Europe...do they have the
same issues?
No, all concrete ties don't fall apart, but a number did, like on
Amtrak's NEC and on a couple of class one railroads. By the time the
MBTA went to tender, this was pretty well known in the industry.
There has been some debate as to why they failed, but the most common
suggestion is because of the chemical composition of the aggregates
used by some of the manufacturers, and how it wasn't compatible with
the Portland cement. The problem is that it took many years for the
ties to fail, and it could take many years more to determine with
certainty why they failed.
Why would it take "many years" to determine if the concrete either
meets spec or not??? If there is one thing that Massachusetts has
experience in, it is faulty concrete. (See big dig). If they can't
determine if concrete meets spec, perhaps they should use a better
lab....
It can take years since it's an environmental issue. To reduce the time,
a lab would have to be found that could do accelerated environmental
testing. Even then, there would probably be argument about how the test
was performed with this amount of money at stake. If not all ties are
failing, then a common cause would have to be identified.
Post by John S
Post by James Robinson
Post by John S
Post by James Robinson
Post by John S
By the MBTA's accounting, if these ties are bad, then all concrete
ties must be bad....
Somebody with some economic sense probably looked at the issue and
figured out that the extra life of concrete wasn't worth the extra
cost involved in a commuter operation. This isn't a heavy-haul
railroad where concrete can withstand impacts better, and can
handle frequent rail replacement more easily.
The DC Metro (hardly a heavy haul railroad) uses quite a bit of
cement ties, why?
They have their hands in the pockets of the taxpayers of Virginia,
Maryland, DC and the Feds. What more reason do they need?
So you are suggesting that the railroad ties used by DC Metro are
incorrect or faulty? Where is your supporting evidence?
Not at all. I'm suggesting that DC metro, like many government agencies,
works under a different set of economic principles than heavy haul
railways.
Adam H. Kerman
2011-11-12 15:50:48 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by James Robinson
Post by John S
Why would it take "many years" to determine if the concrete either
meets spec or not??? If there is one thing that Massachusetts has
experience in, it is faulty concrete. (See big dig). If they can't
determine if concrete meets spec, perhaps they should use a better
lab....
It can take years since it's an environmental issue. To reduce the time,
a lab would have to be found that could do accelerated environmental
testing. Even then, there would probably be argument about how the test
was performed with this amount of money at stake. If not all ties are
failing, then a common cause would have to be identified.
I am familiar with the Portland Cement Association and Construction
Technology Laboratory in Skokie. Checking their Web site, I see they
have several projects testing the strength of concrete slabs in freight
railroad applications.

Who did the certification of ties at the time? Seriously, these tie
manufacturers, lacking actual field experience because the technology
was new, were claiming longer life by decades than wooden ties. Had
any standard been set?

How do you sell a product with a three year warantee that's meant to
last 50 years?
John S
2011-11-12 22:07:02 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by James Robinson
Post by John S
Why would it take "many years" to determine if the concrete either
meets spec or not??? If there is one thing that Massachusetts has
experience in, it is faulty concrete. (See big dig). If they can't
determine if concrete meets spec, perhaps they should use a better
lab....
It can take years since it's an environmental issue. To reduce the time,
a lab would have to be found that could do accelerated environmental
testing. Even then, there would probably be argument about how the test
was performed with this amount of money at stake. If not all ties are
failing, then a common cause would have to be identified.
I am familiar with the Portland Cement Association and Construction
Technology Laboratory in Skokie. Checking their Web site, I see they
have several projects testing the strength of concrete slabs in freight
railroad applications.
Who did the certification of ties at the time? Seriously, these tie
manufacturers, lacking actual field experience because the technology
was new, were claiming longer life by decades than wooden ties. Had
any standard been set?
How do you sell a product with a three year warantee that's meant to
last 50 years?
That's an excellent question. The manufacturer appears culpable, but
MBTA seems to have shot itself in the foot again too. Their contracting
process has a lot to be desired. For an agency constantly crying the
blues and complaining of staggering debt, they don't have much to offer
when it comes to protecting taxpayers' investment.
Bill
2011-11-12 22:42:39 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by John S
Why would it take "many years" to determine if the concrete either
meets spec or not???  If there is one thing that Massachusetts has
experience in, it is faulty concrete.  (See big dig).  If they can't
determine if concrete meets spec, perhaps they should use a better
lab....
It can take years since it's an environmental issue.  To reduce the time,
a lab would have to be found that could do accelerated environmental
testing.  Even then, there would probably be argument about how the test
was performed with this amount of money at stake. If not all ties are
failing, then a common cause would have to be identified.
I am familiar with the Portland Cement Association and Construction
Technology Laboratory in Skokie. Checking their Web site, I see they
have several projects testing the strength of concrete slabs in freight
railroad applications.
Who did the certification of ties at the time? Seriously, these tie
manufacturers, lacking actual field experience because the technology
was new, were claiming longer life by decades than wooden ties. Had
any standard been set?
How do you sell a product with a three year warantee that's meant to
last 50 years?
That's an excellent question.  The manufacturer appears culpable, but
MBTA seems to have shot itself in the foot again too.  Their contracting
process has a lot to be desired.  For an agency constantly crying the
blues and complaining of staggering debt, they don't have much to offer
when it comes to protecting taxpayers' investment.
Your overall contention seems true. However, anyone purchasing a
product knows that
they are not going to obtain a warranty for the estimated life of the
product.

Bill
James Robinson
2011-11-13 02:33:58 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by John S
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by James Robinson
Post by John S
Why would it take "many years" to determine if the concrete either
meets spec or not??? If there is one thing that Massachusetts has
experience in, it is faulty concrete. (See big dig). If they
can't determine if concrete meets spec, perhaps they should use a
better lab....
It can take years since it's an environmental issue. To reduce the
time, a lab would have to be found that could do accelerated
environmental testing. Even then, there would probably be argument
about how the test was performed with this amount of money at stake.
If not all ties are failing, then a common cause would have to be
identified.
I am familiar with the Portland Cement Association and Construction
Technology Laboratory in Skokie. Checking their Web site, I see they
have several projects testing the strength of concrete slabs in
freight railroad applications.
Who did the certification of ties at the time? Seriously, these tie
manufacturers, lacking actual field experience because the technology
was new, were claiming longer life by decades than wooden ties. Had
any standard been set?
How do you sell a product with a three year warantee that's meant to
last 50 years?
That's an excellent question. The manufacturer appears culpable, but
MBTA seems to have shot itself in the foot again too. Their
contracting process has a lot to be desired. For an agency constantly
crying the blues and complaining of staggering debt, they don't have
much to offer when it comes to protecting taxpayers' investment.
As I said, no supplier in their right mind would agree to the terms that
you think MBTA should have asked for. The T would simply get no bids.

About the only thing the T could have asked for is documentary proof that
the ties lasted in other applications, which they may have in fact been
provided.
James Robinson
2011-11-13 02:31:13 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by James Robinson
Post by John S
Why would it take "many years" to determine if the concrete either
meets spec or not??? If there is one thing that Massachusetts has
experience in, it is faulty concrete. (See big dig). If they can't
determine if concrete meets spec, perhaps they should use a better
lab....
It can take years since it's an environmental issue. To reduce the
time, a lab would have to be found that could do accelerated
environmental testing. Even then, there would probably be argument
about how the test was performed with this amount of money at stake.
If not all ties are failing, then a common cause would have to be
identified.
I am familiar with the Portland Cement Association and Construction
Technology Laboratory in Skokie. Checking their Web site, I see they
have several projects testing the strength of concrete slabs in
freight railroad applications.
Measuring concrete strength is different from measuring the life of the
mix. There are probably accelerated test, but why would an industry
association spill the beans on a member?
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Who did the certification of ties at the time? Seriously, these tie
manufacturers, lacking actual field experience because the technology
was new, were claiming longer life by decades than wooden ties. Had
any standard been set?
Each railroad probably has their own standard for design. Also, many of
the tie manufacturers were subsidiaries of European or Australian
manufacturers, with their own designs, so there might have been a certain
amount of misplaced confidence that they knew what they were doing.
Post by Adam H. Kerman
How do you sell a product with a three year warantee that's meant to
last 50 years?
The same way locomotives are sold with a two year warranty when they
typically last 30 years.

The same way that Volvo and Toyota hint at how long their cars last by
advertizing that 80 percent (or something like that) of their cars are
still running after 20 years, but they only offer a 5 year warranty.
Adam H. Kerman
2011-11-13 13:34:43 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by James Robinson
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by James Robinson
Post by John S
Why would it take "many years" to determine if the concrete either
meets spec or not??? If there is one thing that Massachusetts has
experience in, it is faulty concrete. (See big dig). If they can't
determine if concrete meets spec, perhaps they should use a better
lab....
It can take years since it's an environmental issue. To reduce the
time, a lab would have to be found that could do accelerated
environmental testing. Even then, there would probably be argument
about how the test was performed with this amount of money at stake.
If not all ties are failing, then a common cause would have to be
identified.
I am familiar with the Portland Cement Association and Construction
Technology Laboratory in Skokie. Checking their Web site, I see they
have several projects testing the strength of concrete slabs in
freight railroad applications.
Measuring concrete strength is different from measuring the life of the
mix. There are probably accelerated test, but why would an industry
association spill the beans on a member?
Is that your comment about standards making by AAR, APTA, and AREMA?
If a laboratory isn't operated in a neutral manner, if its certification
process is biased, then no consumer would take its results seriously.
Post by James Robinson
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Who did the certification of ties at the time? Seriously, these tie
manufacturers, lacking actual field experience because the technology
was new, were claiming longer life by decades than wooden ties. Had
any standard been set?
Each railroad probably has their own standard for design.
Given that each railroad doesn't have it's own design for rail, that's
ridiculous. Given that railroads weren't in the cement and concrete
manufacturing business, they lacked the expertise.
Post by James Robinson
Also, many of the tie manufacturers were subsidiaries of European or
Australian manufacturers, with their own designs, so there might have
been a certain amount of misplaced confidence that they knew what they
were doing.
The new manufacturers would have had no experience. Why would that
inspire confidence in a buyer?

That's absurd.
Post by James Robinson
Post by Adam H. Kerman
How do you sell a product with a three year warantee that's meant to
last 50 years?
The same way locomotives are sold with a two year warranty when they
typically last 30 years.
This analogy sucks. A locomotive is a finished product made up of
numerous components. A railroad tie is merely a component of the tracks
in the right of way.
Post by James Robinson
The same way that Volvo and Toyota hint at how long their cars last by
advertizing that 80 percent (or something like that) of their cars are
still running after 20 years, but they only offer a 5 year warranty.
This analogy also sucks, as automobiles are again finished products and
not components, and the initial buyer isn't expected to keep the car
throughout its useful lifetime.
Bill
2011-11-13 18:39:10 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by James Robinson
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by John S
Why would it take "many years" to determine if the concrete either
meets spec or not???  If there is one thing that Massachusetts has
experience in, it is faulty concrete.  (See big dig).  If they can't
determine if concrete meets spec, perhaps they should use a better
lab....
It can take years since it's an environmental issue.  To reduce the
time, a lab would have to be found that could do accelerated
environmental testing.  Even then, there would probably be argument
about how the test was performed with this amount of money at stake.
If not all ties are failing, then a common cause would have to be
identified.
I am familiar with the Portland Cement Association and Construction
Technology Laboratory in Skokie. Checking their Web site, I see they
have several projects testing the strength of concrete slabs in
freight railroad applications.
Measuring concrete strength is different from measuring the life of the
mix.  There are probably accelerated test, but why would an industry
association spill the beans on a member?
Is that your comment about standards making by AAR, APTA, and AREMA?
If a laboratory isn't operated in a neutral manner, if its certification
process is biased, then no consumer would take its results seriously.
Post by James Robinson
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Who did the certification of ties at the time? Seriously, these tie
manufacturers, lacking actual field experience because the technology
was new, were claiming longer life by decades than wooden ties. Had
any standard been set?
Each railroad probably has their own standard for design.
Given that each railroad doesn't have it's own design for rail, that's
ridiculous. Given that railroads weren't in the cement and concrete
manufacturing business, they lacked the expertise.
Post by James Robinson
Also, many of the tie manufacturers were subsidiaries of European or
Australian manufacturers, with their own designs, so there might have
been a certain amount of misplaced confidence that they knew what they
were doing.
The new manufacturers would have had no experience. Why would that
inspire confidence in a buyer?
That's absurd.
Post by James Robinson
Post by Adam H. Kerman
How do you sell a product with a three year warantee that's meant to
last 50 years?
The same way locomotives are sold with a two year warranty when they
typically last 30 years.
This analogy sucks. A locomotive is a finished product made up of
numerous components. A railroad tie is merely a component of the tracks
in the right of way.
Post by James Robinson
The same way that Volvo and Toyota hint at how long their cars last by
advertizing that 80 percent (or something like that) of their cars are
still running after 20 years, but they only offer a 5 year warranty.
This analogy also sucks, as automobiles are again finished products and
not components, and the initial buyer isn't expected to keep the car
throughout its useful lifetime.
It seems evident that you are not aware of the general terms. Yet,
you are going to insist on some nonsense and resort to lackluster
language.

Bill
James Robinson
2011-11-13 22:07:12 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by James Robinson
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by James Robinson
Post by John S
Why would it take "many years" to determine if the concrete either
meets spec or not??? If there is one thing that Massachusetts has
experience in, it is faulty concrete. (See big dig). If they
can't determine if concrete meets spec, perhaps they should use a
better lab....
It can take years since it's an environmental issue. To reduce the
time, a lab would have to be found that could do accelerated
environmental testing. Even then, there would probably be argument
about how the test was performed with this amount of money at stake.
If not all ties are failing, then a common cause would have to be
identified.
I am familiar with the Portland Cement Association and Construction
Technology Laboratory in Skokie. Checking their Web site, I see they
have several projects testing the strength of concrete slabs in
freight railroad applications.
Measuring concrete strength is different from measuring the life of
the mix. There are probably accelerated test, but why would an
industry association spill the beans on a member?
Is that your comment about standards making by AAR, APTA, and AREMA?
If a laboratory isn't operated in a neutral manner, if its
certification process is biased, then no consumer would take its
results seriously.
Standards? If you read the title of AREMA's book, it is called the
manual of recommended practice. They are not standards. Railroads can
choose to use the recommedations if they want, and many do, since the
designs are well understood, and manufacturing has a lower risk and cost.
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by James Robinson
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Who did the certification of ties at the time? Seriously, these tie
manufacturers, lacking actual field experience because the technology
was new, were claiming longer life by decades than wooden ties. Had
any standard been set?
Each railroad probably has their own standard for design.
Given that each railroad doesn't have it's own design for rail, that's
ridiculous. Given that railroads weren't in the cement and concrete
manufacturing business, they lacked the expertise.
Some railroads, like UP, have their own designs for many track
components, including rail. And the railroads did have the expertise -
they bought it in the form of consultants who did.
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by James Robinson
Also, many of the tie manufacturers were subsidiaries of European or
Australian manufacturers, with their own designs, so there might have
been a certain amount of misplaced confidence that they knew what they
were doing.
The new manufacturers would have had no experience. Why would that
inspire confidence in a buyer?
That's absurd.
They made ties in Europe and Australia. That's hardly no experience.
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by James Robinson
Post by Adam H. Kerman
How do you sell a product with a three year warantee that's meant to
last 50 years?
The same way locomotives are sold with a two year warranty when they
typically last 30 years.
This analogy sucks. A locomotive is a finished product made up of
numerous components. A railroad tie is merely a component of the
tracks in the right of way.
And the railroads are the ones who make use of them, with practices that
are beyond the manufacturer's control. As I previously wrote, no
supplier in their right mind would agree to the terms that you seem to
think are appropriate.
Adam H. Kerman
2011-11-14 01:03:46 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by James Robinson
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by James Robinson
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by James Robinson
Post by John S
Why would it take "many years" to determine if the concrete either
meets spec or not??? If there is one thing that Massachusetts has
experience in, it is faulty concrete. (See big dig). If they
can't determine if concrete meets spec, perhaps they should use a
better lab....
It can take years since it's an environmental issue. To reduce the
time, a lab would have to be found that could do accelerated
environmental testing. Even then, there would probably be argument
about how the test was performed with this amount of money at stake.
If not all ties are failing, then a common cause would have to be
identified.
I am familiar with the Portland Cement Association and Construction
Technology Laboratory in Skokie. Checking their Web site, I see they
have several projects testing the strength of concrete slabs in
freight railroad applications.
Measuring concrete strength is different from measuring the life of
the mix. There are probably accelerated test, but why would an
industry association spill the beans on a member?
Is that your comment about standards making by AAR, APTA, and AREMA?
If a laboratory isn't operated in a neutral manner, if its
certification process is biased, then no consumer would take its
results seriously.
Standards? If you read the title of AREMA's book, it is called the
manual of recommended practice. They are not standards. Railroads can
choose to use the recommedations if they want, and many do, since the
designs are well understood, and manufacturing has a lower risk and cost.
No one is required to comply with a standard unless it's mandated by
law or regulation or contract.
Post by James Robinson
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by James Robinson
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Who did the certification of ties at the time? Seriously, these tie
manufacturers, lacking actual field experience because the technology
was new, were claiming longer life by decades than wooden ties. Had
any standard been set?
Each railroad probably has their own standard for design.
Given that each railroad doesn't have it's own design for rail, that's
ridiculous. Given that railroads weren't in the cement and concrete
manufacturing business, they lacked the expertise.
Some railroads, like UP, have their own designs for many track
components, including rail. And the railroads did have the expertise -
they bought it in the form of consultants who did.
You are quoted above suggesting that an industry testing lab would be
biased toward industry members. Does the same thing apply to consultants
hired by UP, that the railroad paid for biased results and not
useful results?

You are trying to have it both ways here.
Post by James Robinson
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by James Robinson
Also, many of the tie manufacturers were subsidiaries of European or
Australian manufacturers, with their own designs, so there might have
been a certain amount of misplaced confidence that they knew what they
were doing.
The new manufacturers would have had no experience. Why would that
inspire confidence in a buyer?
That's absurd.
They made ties in Europe and Australia. That's hardly no experience.
You just stated that many, but not all, were subsidiaries. Explain why
a manufacturer not a subsidiary would have inspired confidence.
Post by James Robinson
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by James Robinson
Post by Adam H. Kerman
How do you sell a product with a three year warantee that's meant to
last 50 years?
The same way locomotives are sold with a two year warranty when they
typically last 30 years.
This analogy sucks. A locomotive is a finished product made up of
numerous components. A railroad tie is merely a component of the
tracks in the right of way.
And the railroads are the ones who make use of them, with practices that
are beyond the manufacturer's control. As I previously wrote, no
supplier in their right mind would agree to the terms that you seem to
think are appropriate.
What do you think a railroad could do in three years that would destroy
a concrete tie under normal operating conditions?
James Robinson
2011-11-14 18:57:28 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by James Robinson
Standards? If you read the title of AREMA's book, it is called the
manual of recommended practice. They are not standards. Railroads
can choose to use the recommedations if they want, and many do, since
the designs are well understood, and manufacturing has a lower risk
and cost.
No one is required to comply with a standard unless it's mandated by
law or regulation or contract.
That's the very definition of a standard. If everybody isn't using it,
it isn't a standard.
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by James Robinson
Some railroads, like UP, have their own designs for many track
components, including rail. And the railroads did have the expertise
- they bought it in the form of consultants who did.
You are quoted above suggesting that an industry testing lab would be
biased toward industry members. Does the same thing apply to
consultants hired by UP, that the railroad paid for biased results and
not useful results?
You are trying to have it both ways here.
Huh? The consultants weren't employed by the concrete tie industry when
they were hired. They work for the client who is paying their salary at
the time. A number came from railway research arms, and would therefore
have the railway's interest at the forefront. I only question the
independence of a testing lab such as one that gets most of its support
from the concrete tie manufacturing industry.
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by James Robinson
They made ties in Europe and Australia. That's hardly no experience.
You just stated that many, but not all, were subsidiaries. Explain why
a manufacturer not a subsidiary would have inspired confidence.
It wouldn't, until they proved otherwise. I believe the one MBTA
contracted with was a subsidiary of an Australian tie manufacturing
company, was it not?
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by James Robinson
And the railroads are the ones who make use of them, (locomotives)
with practices that are beyond the manufacturer's control. As I
previously wrote, no supplier in their right mind would agree to the
terms that you seem to think are appropriate.
What do you think a railroad could do in three years that would
destroy a concrete tie under normal operating conditions?
Inadequate ballast support under the ties and poor drainage are major
reasons that ties fail. Those are both under the railroad's control.
Adam H. Kerman
2011-11-14 19:05:04 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by James Robinson
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by James Robinson
Standards? If you read the title of AREMA's book, it is called the
manual of recommended practice. They are not standards. Railroads
can choose to use the recommedations if they want, and many do, since
the designs are well understood, and manufacturing has a lower risk
and cost.
No one is required to comply with a standard unless it's mandated by
law or regulation or contract.
That's the very definition of a standard. If everybody isn't using it,
it isn't a standard.
If you believe that, your dictionary is broken. If an installation didn't
comply with standard, that doesn't mean 1) it was required to, or 2) the
standard doesn't exist. All it means is that it's not in compliance.

I'm fed up with you and I'm not reading any more from you in this
subthread.
James Robinson
2011-11-14 19:44:08 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by James Robinson
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by James Robinson
Standards? If you read the title of AREMA's book, it is called the
manual of recommended practice. They are not standards. Railroads
can choose to use the recommedations if they want, and many do,
since the designs are well understood, and manufacturing has a
lower risk and cost.
No one is required to comply with a standard unless it's mandated by
law or regulation or contract.
That's the very definition of a standard. If everybody isn't using
it, it isn't a standard.
If you believe that, your dictionary is broken. If an installation
didn't comply with standard, that doesn't mean 1) it was required to,
or 2) the standard doesn't exist. All it means is that it's not in
compliance.
I'm fed up with you and I'm not reading any more from you in this
subthread.
Since you aren't reading this, you won't be enlightened, however, for
others who might be interested, here is a good description of a
technical standard:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technical_standard
Stephen Sprunk
2011-11-14 21:15:36 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by James Robinson
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by James Robinson
Post by Adam H. Kerman
No one is required to comply with a standard unless it's mandated by
law or regulation or contract.
That's the very definition of a standard. If everybody isn't using
it, it isn't a standard.
If you believe that, your dictionary is broken. If an installation
didn't comply with standard, that doesn't mean 1) it was required to,
or 2) the standard doesn't exist. All it means is that it's not in
compliance.
I'm fed up with you and I'm not reading any more from you in this
subthread.
Since you aren't reading this, you won't be enlightened, however, for
others who might be interested, here is a good description of a
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technical_standard
... and that is very clear that adoption doesn't have to be universal
for something to be a standard.

In fact, it is quite common for there to be _competing_ standards.

S
--
Stephen Sprunk "God does not play dice." --Albert Einstein
CCIE #3723 "God is an inveterate gambler, and He throws the
K5SSS dice at every possible opportunity." --Stephen Hawking
James Robinson
2011-11-16 14:58:34 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Stephen Sprunk
Post by James Robinson
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by James Robinson
Post by Adam H. Kerman
No one is required to comply with a standard unless it's mandated
by law or regulation or contract.
That's the very definition of a standard. If everybody isn't using
it, it isn't a standard.
If you believe that, your dictionary is broken. If an installation
didn't comply with standard, that doesn't mean 1) it was required
to, or 2) the standard doesn't exist. All it means is that it's not
in compliance.
I'm fed up with you and I'm not reading any more from you in this
subthread.
Since you aren't reading this, you won't be enlightened, however, for
others who might be interested, here is a good description of a
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technical_standard
... and that is very clear that adoption doesn't have to be universal
for something to be a standard.
In fact, it is quite common for there to be _competing_ standards.
I don't think it's that clear. People may call things "standards", but
they really aren't.

Take for example the AREMA manual for railway engineering. It contains
the profiles for various weights of rail that have been developed by that
association. Those rail profiles have pretty well become what most
railroads use, but they aren't used everywhere.

Nowhere is the word "standard" used in the manual. Instead, they refer
to the rail profiles as "Recommended Profiles", and the detailed
descriptions are called specifications.

Another example is the AAR, which also publishes a Manual of Standards
and Recommended Practices". The descriptions are divided into three
categories: Specifications, Recommended Practices, and Standards.
Standards are restricted to those items or procedures that are either
required by law, or that the railroads have to comply with by agreement,
if they want to be able to freely interchange equipment between
railroads. If a railroad builds a piece of equipment that doesn't meet
the standards, another railroad can refuse to handle it. Otherwise, by
association agreement, railroads have to freely accept compliant cars
from other member railroads.

Thus the railroad industry maintains a distinction between the terms
standards and specifictions. Standards, by definition, are to be used by
everybody.

APTA, on the other hand, is looser with their terminology, in that they
maintain a set of standards, which are essentially specifications that
have been adopted by industry consensus, but are not mandatory. Most
agencies will use them, since when purchasing, it is easiest to just
point to the APTA standards, which every supplier should have and
understand. They are not mandatory, however.
Adam H. Kerman
2011-11-16 15:34:17 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by James Robinson
Another example is the AAR, which also publishes a Manual of Standards
and Recommended Practices". The descriptions are divided into three
categories: Specifications, Recommended Practices, and Standards.
Standards are restricted to those items or procedures that are either
required by law, or that the railroads have to comply with by agreement,
if they want to be able to freely interchange equipment between
railroads. If a railroad builds a piece of equipment that doesn't meet
the standards, another railroad can refuse to handle it. Otherwise, by
association agreement, railroads have to freely accept compliant cars
from other member railroads.
Thus the railroad industry maintains a distinction between the terms
standards and specifictions. Standards, by definition, are to be used by
everybody.
You just contradicted yourself from one paragraph to the next.

A standard is a set of specifications. For the purpose of interexchange
car handling, railroads have agreed, contractually, to handle cars built
to that set of specifications. Non-standard cars are not prohibited. A
railroad can move whatever size car it can handle within its own network,
and if it needs the cooperation of a connecting railroad, it can move
that car with special permission.

Therefore, standards ARE NOT used by everybody under all circumstances.

There is no practical difference between "standard" and "specification"
except how the words are used in context. The superset could easily
be called a "specification" that contains specific "standards", each
of which must be complied with for the final product or service to
be in compliance with the specification.
Post by James Robinson
APTA, on the other hand, is looser with their terminology, in that they
maintain a set of standards, which are essentially specifications that
have been adopted by industry consensus, but are not mandatory. Most
agencies will use them, since when purchasing, it is easiest to just
point to the APTA standards, which every supplier should have and
understand. They are not mandatory, however.
There is NOTHING WRONG with APTA's terminology. Standard DOES NOT mean
mandatory. If an agency purchases something from a vendor built to the
standard, then building to the specifications in the standard has
become mandatory due to contract.

There is something wrong with your use of terms.
Stephen Sprunk
2011-11-16 18:43:38 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by James Robinson
Post by Stephen Sprunk
Post by James Robinson
Since you aren't reading this, you won't be enlightened, however, for
others who might be interested, here is a good description of a
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technical_standard
... and that is very clear that adoption doesn't have to be universal
for something to be a standard.
In fact, it is quite common for there to be _competing_ standards.
I don't think it's that clear. People may call things "standards", but
they really aren't.
That depends on what definition of "standard" is used, and that varies
by context.
Post by James Robinson
Another example is the AAR, which also publishes a Manual of Standards
and Recommended Practices". The descriptions are divided into three
categories: Specifications, Recommended Practices, and Standards.
Standards are restricted to those items or procedures that are either
required by law, or that the railroads have to comply with by agreement,
if they want to be able to freely interchange equipment between
railroads. If a railroad builds a piece of equipment that doesn't meet
the standards, another railroad can refuse to handle it. Otherwise, by
association agreement, railroads have to freely accept compliant cars
from other member railroads.
... but they are free to (and do) use non-standard equipment within
their own networks, showing that adoption of the standard is not
universal. According to the definition you appears to be using, that
means it's not a standard at all.
Post by James Robinson
Thus the railroad industry maintains a distinction between the terms
standards and specifictions. Standards, by definition, are to be used by
everybody.
That is their particular use of the terms.
Post by James Robinson
APTA, on the other hand, is looser with their terminology, in that they
maintain a set of standards, which are essentially specifications that
have been adopted by industry consensus, but are not mandatory.
That is another use of the terms.

In my industry, all standards are voluntary; however, customers
generally prefer products that comply with relevant standards because
they know what they're getting that way--and that they will work with
compliant products from other vendors. The alternative is "vendor
lock-in", which most customers have learned (the hard way) to avoid.

Sometimes, standards bodies can't decide between two valid approaches to
a problem and standardize both of them, hoping the market will sort it
out; other times, an existing standard will be replaced by a radically
different standard that solves problems the first didn't address (often
because they weren't known at the time) and can't be fixed or updated to
address. Products rarely comply with both standards, often because
they're mutually exclusive. Standards are also updated over time, and
it takes time for updates to be incorporated into new products--and
older products are unlikely to comply with standards published after
they were made.

S
--
Stephen Sprunk "God does not play dice." --Albert Einstein
CCIE #3723 "God is an inveterate gambler, and He throws the
K5SSS dice at every possible opportunity." --Stephen Hawking
John S
2011-11-12 22:05:18 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by James Robinson
Post by John S
Post by James Robinson
Post by John S
Post by James Robinson
Post by John S
Next we will hear that MBTA needs more money or needs to raise
fares because their leadership and money management is so poor.
"We were suckered! But don't bring in new leadership!"
Somebody has to pay, and in most cases it ends up being the
taxpayer. Nothing new there. The management is certainly open to
question, but what about the political arm-twisting?
Which are you speaking of?
The article says that the MBTA originally went to tender for wooden
ties only, and that a US Representative was lobbied by the concrete
tie manufacturer to include concrete ties, so under political
pressure, the MBTA subsequently reissued a broader tender for both
types. Did the MBTA really want concrete ties?
So the concrete AND wooden ties were permitted in the RFP and concrete
won? On what basis, since (one might think) wooden ties are a less
expensive procurement.
The articles don't say what criteria they used to compare the prices of
the two types. Obviously, they must have done some sort of economic life
cycle assessment of the two types.
Obvious...why? This is MBTA we are talking about....
Post by James Robinson
Post by John S
Post by James Robinson
Post by John S
Post by James Robinson
Post by John S
Did anyone at MBTA ever hear of talking to their peer railroads
and learning best practices instead of choosing the worst option
or worst vendor available? Many other railroads buy ties that do
NOT crumble after a few years and have found that (properly
constructed) concrete ties far outlast wood, leading to lower
lifetime cost.
There are a number of lawsuits against the concrete tie
manufacturers for ties that have failed shortly after installation.
The railroads didn't fare much better. In some cases, the cause of
the failures was never clearly understood, at least not well enough
to sway a jury.
So, all concrete ties just fall apart shortly after installation?
Funny, but they are used extensively in Europe...do they have the
same issues?
No, all concrete ties don't fall apart, but a number did, like on
Amtrak's NEC and on a couple of class one railroads. By the time the
MBTA went to tender, this was pretty well known in the industry.
There has been some debate as to why they failed, but the most common
suggestion is because of the chemical composition of the aggregates
used by some of the manufacturers, and how it wasn't compatible with
the Portland cement. The problem is that it took many years for the
ties to fail, and it could take many years more to determine with
certainty why they failed.
Why would it take "many years" to determine if the concrete either
meets spec or not??? If there is one thing that Massachusetts has
experience in, it is faulty concrete. (See big dig). If they can't
determine if concrete meets spec, perhaps they should use a better
lab....
It can take years since it's an environmental issue. To reduce the time,
a lab would have to be found that could do accelerated environmental
testing. Even then, there would probably be argument about how the test
was performed with this amount of money at stake. If not all ties are
failing, then a common cause would have to be identified.
I don't think that concrete is a brand new technology. Why would it
take years to determine how it failed? Instead, why not test for the
proper composition? Either the concrete matches acceptable
specifications or it does not....
Post by James Robinson
Post by John S
Post by James Robinson
Post by John S
Post by James Robinson
Post by John S
By the MBTA's accounting, if these ties are bad, then all concrete
ties must be bad....
Somebody with some economic sense probably looked at the issue and
figured out that the extra life of concrete wasn't worth the extra
cost involved in a commuter operation. This isn't a heavy-haul
railroad where concrete can withstand impacts better, and can
handle frequent rail replacement more easily.
The DC Metro (hardly a heavy haul railroad) uses quite a bit of
cement ties, why?
They have their hands in the pockets of the taxpayers of Virginia,
Maryland, DC and the Feds. What more reason do they need?
So you are suggesting that the railroad ties used by DC Metro are
incorrect or faulty? Where is your supporting evidence?
Not at all. I'm suggesting that DC metro, like many government agencies,
works under a different set of economic principles than heavy haul
railways.
Bill
2011-11-12 22:45:36 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
I don't think that concrete is a brand new technology.  Why would it
take years to determine how it failed?  Instead, why not test for the
proper composition? Either the concrete matches acceptable
specifications or it does not....
The specific installation might provide issues.
Drainage upon the site might be poor. Some areas are
really on massive fills with high enbankments and better
drainage. Other spots are built in locales known as
the land of beavers.

The freeze/thaw cycle considerations in engineering
might not have considered the really damp conditions
of certain places along the line.

bill
James Robinson
2011-11-13 02:23:22 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by John S
Post by James Robinson
Post by John S
So the concrete AND wooden ties were permitted in the RFP and
concrete won? On what basis, since (one might think) wooden ties
are a less expensive procurement.
The articles don't say what criteria they used to compare the prices
of the two types. Obviously, they must have done some sort of
economic life cycle assessment of the two types.
Obvious...why? This is MBTA we are talking about....
Fine, have it your way. MBTA had no logical reason at all to award the
contract to the bidder with the highest price ties. They just bought
them because they felt like it.
Post by John S
Post by James Robinson
Post by John S
Why would it take "many years" to determine if the concrete either
meets spec or not??? If there is one thing that Massachusetts has
experience in, it is faulty concrete. (See big dig). If they can't
determine if concrete meets spec, perhaps they should use a better
lab....
It can take years since it's an environmental issue. To reduce the
time, a lab would have to be found that could do accelerated
environmental testing. Even then, there would probably be argument
about how the test was performed with this amount of money at stake.
If not all ties are failing, then a common cause would have to be
identified.
I don't think that concrete is a brand new technology. Why would it
take years to determine how it failed? Instead, why not test for the
proper composition? Either the concrete matches acceptable
specifications or it does not....
It isn't new technology, but the failure mode was different that previous
problems. Thus they had to identify what was different that affected the
longevity of the concrete mix. They may very well have met the then-
current specifications for composition.
Bill
2011-11-12 20:29:07 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by James Robinson
No, all concrete ties don't fall apart, but a number did, like on
Amtrak's NEC and on a couple of class one railroads.  By the time the
MBTA went to tender, this was pretty well known in the industry.  There
has been some debate as to why they failed, but the most common
suggestion is because of the chemical composition of the aggregates used
by some of the manufacturers, and how it wasn't compatible with the
Portland cement.  The problem is that it took many years for the ties to
fail, and it could take many years more to determine with certainty why
they failed.
Concrete ties do last. However, the MBTA took a long time to replace
the concrete ties installed on their heavy rail application in Quincy.

Those were an older series of concrete ties. They had lasted 25-30
years. The Concrete ties on the Old Colony have been in operation
for 12+ years.

The other thing worthy of mention is the replacement job. They had to
hire a full complement of contractors as the "overhead" team running
the show does not have a NS tie gang equivalent. This is not a big
railroad with a large MoW force.

Bill
f***@mail.croydon.ac.uk
2011-11-14 19:00:30 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by James Robinson
No, all concrete ties don't fall apart, but a number did, like on
Amtrak's NEC and on a couple of class one railroads.  By the time the
MBTA went to tender, this was pretty well known in the industry.  There
has been some debate as to why they failed, but the most common
suggestion is because of the chemical composition of the aggregates used
by some of the manufacturers, and how it wasn't compatible with the
Portland cement.  The problem is that it took many years for the ties to
fail, and it could take many years more to determine with certainty why
they failed.
I was over there on the weekend when work started to replace the
concrete ties on the NEC; I was travelling between Newark and
Trenton. I have seen broken concrete ties in the past, but I have
never seen anything like I saw there. There were thousands of broken
ones, many of which looked almost brand new. Somebody mentioned ties
of this type being used in Europe; they've been widely used here in
the UK for many decades, I think some of the oldest ones go back to
around WWII time, and they've been very common since the '60s, though
in recent years there has been a move to steel ties in some areas for
cost, weight and recyclability reasons. I've never seen anything like
I saw over there, with the mass failure of ties, with the ends
completely breaking up in many cases. Not only have I never seen
anything like it here, but it was noticable that over there it was
only the newer, in some cases very new, ties which were affected;
almost all of the older ones, on the same line, were in good
condition. This seems to rule out causes other than faults in
manufacture or installation of recent recent batches. There's nothing
wrong with concrete ties generally, the fault was something specific
to the newer ones in this area.
Marc Van Dyck
2011-11-11 19:01:18 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by James Robinson
There are a number of lawsuits against the concrete tie manufacturers for
ties that have failed shortly after installation. The railroads didn't
fare much better. In some cases, the cause of the failures was never
clearly understood, at least not well enough to sway a jury.
So, all concrete ties just fall apart shortly after installation? Funny, but
they are used extensively in Europe...do they have the same issues?
Not anymore. But there have been some deceiving experiences in the past
when concrete ties started to be introduced. Quality control is
essential. But today, it has indeed become very rare to still install
wooden ties for a new track. Even sidings get concrete ties nowadays.
The only significant exception that still remains is under turnouts.
And even there, concrete ties start appearing...
--
Marc Van Dyck
Adam H. Kerman
2011-11-11 19:40:45 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Marc Van Dyck
Post by James Robinson
There are a number of lawsuits against the concrete tie manufacturers for
ties that have failed shortly after installation. The railroads didn't
fare much better. In some cases, the cause of the failures was never
clearly understood, at least not well enough to sway a jury.
So, all concrete ties just fall apart shortly after installation? Funny, but
they are used extensively in Europe...do they have the same issues?
Not anymore. But there have been some deceiving experiences in the past
when concrete ties started to be introduced. Quality control is
essential.
What was the deception? As far as quality control, everything I've read
has failed to isolate a cause for all those bad North American tie jobs
in early days, or why there weren't similar problems in Europe at the time.
Post by Marc Van Dyck
But today, it has indeed become very rare to still install wooden ties
for a new track. Even sidings get concrete ties nowadays.
That's absurd. What siding lasts 50 years? Or are you speaking of a siding
in regular use to put a main line train in the pocket?
Post by Marc Van Dyck
The only significant exception that still remains is under turnouts.
And even there, concrete ties start appearing...
I suppose it's pointless as the mechanism itself is short lived versus
main line track.
Clark F Morris
2011-11-12 01:51:03 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
On Fri, 11 Nov 2011 19:40:45 +0000 (UTC), "Adam H. Kerman"
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by Marc Van Dyck
Post by James Robinson
There are a number of lawsuits against the concrete tie manufacturers for
ties that have failed shortly after installation. The railroads didn't
fare much better. In some cases, the cause of the failures was never
clearly understood, at least not well enough to sway a jury.
So, all concrete ties just fall apart shortly after installation? Funny, but
they are used extensively in Europe...do they have the same issues?
Not anymore. But there have been some deceiving experiences in the past
when concrete ties started to be introduced. Quality control is
essential.
What was the deception? As far as quality control, everything I've read
has failed to isolate a cause for all those bad North American tie jobs
in early days, or why there weren't similar problems in Europe at the time.
While I think the installation of the ties was later than the MBTA
ties, there were problems with the ties on the Berlin - Hamburg line.

Clark Morris
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by Marc Van Dyck
But today, it has indeed become very rare to still install wooden ties
for a new track. Even sidings get concrete ties nowadays.
That's absurd. What siding lasts 50 years? Or are you speaking of a siding
in regular use to put a main line train in the pocket?
Post by Marc Van Dyck
The only significant exception that still remains is under turnouts.
And even there, concrete ties start appearing...
I suppose it's pointless as the mechanism itself is short lived versus
main line track.
Stephen Sprunk
2011-11-12 03:06:15 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by Marc Van Dyck
But today, it has indeed become very rare to still install wooden ties
for a new track. Even sidings get concrete ties nowadays.
That's absurd. What siding lasts 50 years? Or are you speaking of a siding
in regular use to put a main line train in the pocket?
Why use a different technology for sidings? The money saved by using
wooden ties would likely be lost due to the extra costs of not being
able to use the same machines, keeping common stocks of supplies, etc.

S
--
Stephen Sprunk "God does not play dice." --Albert Einstein
CCIE #3723 "God is an inveterate gambler, and He throws the
K5SSS dice at every possible opportunity." --Stephen Hawking
John S
2011-11-12 05:07:45 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Stephen Sprunk
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by Marc Van Dyck
But today, it has indeed become very rare to still install wooden ties
for a new track. Even sidings get concrete ties nowadays.
That's absurd. What siding lasts 50 years? Or are you speaking of a siding
in regular use to put a main line train in the pocket?
Why use a different technology for sidings? The money saved by using
wooden ties would likely be lost due to the extra costs of not being
able to use the same machines, keeping common stocks of supplies, etc.
Where would the wood come from, and how do you know it is cheaper to
procure wood in many European areas than concrete?
Stephen Sprunk
2011-11-12 14:11:39 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by John S
Post by Stephen Sprunk
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by Marc Van Dyck
But today, it has indeed become very rare to still install wooden ties
for a new track. Even sidings get concrete ties nowadays.
That's absurd. What siding lasts 50 years? Or are you speaking of a siding
in regular use to put a main line train in the pocket?
Why use a different technology for sidings? The money saved by using
wooden ties would likely be lost due to the extra costs of not being
able to use the same machines, keeping common stocks of supplies, etc.
Where would the wood come from, and how do you know it is cheaper to
procure wood in many European areas than concrete?
I didn't realize Marc was talking about Europe, since I'm seeing the
same thing here: nearly all relaying projects use concrete, even
sidings. New wood ties are only used for spot replacements of old wood
ties, bridges, and interlockings.

S
--
Stephen Sprunk "God does not play dice." --Albert Einstein
CCIE #3723 "God is an inveterate gambler, and He throws the
K5SSS dice at every possible opportunity." --Stephen Hawking
Adam H. Kerman
2011-11-12 05:20:56 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Stephen Sprunk
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by Marc Van Dyck
But today, it has indeed become very rare to still install wooden ties
for a new track. Even sidings get concrete ties nowadays.
That's absurd. What siding lasts 50 years? Or are you speaking of a siding
in regular use to put a main line train in the pocket?
Why use a different technology for sidings? The money saved by using
wooden ties would likely be lost due to the extra costs of not being
able to use the same machines, keeping common stocks of supplies, etc.
I have no idea what kind of siding he is speaking of. If the siding serves
an industry, manual labor is likely the cheapest way to go. If it's a
pocket track, then yes, it should have the same characteristics as the
adjacent main line.
John S
2011-11-12 05:06:59 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by Marc Van Dyck
Post by James Robinson
There are a number of lawsuits against the concrete tie manufacturers for
ties that have failed shortly after installation. The railroads didn't
fare much better. In some cases, the cause of the failures was never
clearly understood, at least not well enough to sway a jury.
So, all concrete ties just fall apart shortly after installation? Funny, but
they are used extensively in Europe...do they have the same issues?
Not anymore. But there have been some deceiving experiences in the past
when concrete ties started to be introduced. Quality control is
essential.
What was the deception? As far as quality control, everything I've read
has failed to isolate a cause for all those bad North American tie jobs
in early days, or why there weren't similar problems in Europe at the time.
Post by Marc Van Dyck
But today, it has indeed become very rare to still install wooden ties
for a new track. Even sidings get concrete ties nowadays.
That's absurd. What siding lasts 50 years? Or are you speaking of a siding
in regular use to put a main line train in the pocket?
Why is it "absurd?" Are the cement utility poles found frequently in
Europe absurd too?
Marc Van Dyck
2011-11-13 20:35:00 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by Marc Van Dyck
Post by James Robinson
There are a number of lawsuits against the concrete tie manufacturers for
ties that have failed shortly after installation. The railroads didn't
fare much better. In some cases, the cause of the failures was never
clearly understood, at least not well enough to sway a jury.
So, all concrete ties just fall apart shortly after installation? Funny,
but they are used extensively in Europe...do they have the same issues?
Not anymore. But there have been some deceiving experiences in the past
when concrete ties started to be introduced. Quality control is
essential.
What was the deception? As far as quality control, everything I've read
has failed to isolate a cause for all those bad North American tie jobs
in early days, or why there weren't similar problems in Europe at the time.
Many types. There have been (and still are, in eastern Europe) ties
built too cheaply, that did not last very long. There have been
incorrect concrete compositions, which caused the rail fixations to
become loose in the concrete. There have been bi-block kinds of ties,
where the central metallic bar did oxidize too fast because its shape
retained water. There have been problems with the concrete-ballast
interaction, which was causing the ballast to deterirate too quickly.
But all of this is fixed now. But as nothing looks more like a block
of concrete than another block of concrete, there must be a constant
quality control to ensure that the specifications are correctly
implemented by the suppliers.
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by Marc Van Dyck
But today, it has indeed become very rare to still install wooden ties
for a new track. Even sidings get concrete ties nowadays.
That's absurd. What siding lasts 50 years? Or are you speaking of a siding
in regular use to put a main line train in the pocket?
We have to agree on the meaning of "siding". What I meant are tracks
that, although not main line, are still travelled by several trains
per day. Reception tracks in gravity yards, tracks used to clean and
maintain rakes of passenger cars, tracks in maintenance depots, tracks
used for reception of passenger trains in stations, etc. Also passing
loops, yes, but those are rare, I live in an almost all double track
territory.
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by Marc Van Dyck
The only significant exception that still remains is under turnouts.
And even there, concrete ties start appearing...
I suppose it's pointless as the mechanism itself is short lived versus
main line track.
No no, it's starting to come now. The problem is that the prodction of
concrete ties couldn't be economically profitable if ties weren't all
of the same size... Under a turnout, each tie has a different size.
It seems that this has been fixed too now, so we start seeing turnouts
built on concrete ties in test here and there. I guess that in a few
years it will have become the norm.
--
Marc Van Dyck
Stephen Sprunk
2011-11-14 03:49:45 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Marc Van Dyck
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by Marc Van Dyck
The only significant exception that still remains is under turnouts.
And even there, concrete ties start appearing...
I suppose it's pointless as the mechanism itself is short lived versus
main line track.
No no, it's starting to come now. The problem is that the prodction of
concrete ties couldn't be economically profitable if ties weren't all
of the same size... Under a turnout, each tie has a different size.
It seems that this has been fixed too now, so we start seeing turnouts
built on concrete ties in test here and there. I guess that in a few
years it will have become the norm.
In test? TRE started putting in concrete turnouts years ago; I don't
know if it's related to them being concrete, but those also happen to be
their only 60mph (line speed) switches.

S
--
Stephen Sprunk "God does not play dice." --Albert Einstein
CCIE #3723 "God is an inveterate gambler, and He throws the
K5SSS dice at every possible opportunity." --Stephen Hawking
Glen Labah
2011-11-16 03:49:55 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Marc Van Dyck
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by Marc Van Dyck
The only significant exception that still remains is under turnouts.
And even there, concrete ties start appearing...
I suppose it's pointless as the mechanism itself is short lived versus
main line track.
No no, it's starting to come now. The problem is that the prodction of
concrete ties couldn't be economically profitable if ties weren't all
of the same size... Under a turnout, each tie has a different size.
It seems that this has been fixed too now, so we start seeing turnouts
built on concrete ties in test here and there. I guess that in a few
years it will have become the norm.
The Green Line MAX line in Portland, Oregon was built with 100% concrete
ties, even under the turnouts.

I think I have seen them on the BNSF main line somewhere too, but I
don't remember where.
--
Please note this e-mail address is a pit of spam due to e-mail address
harvesters on Usenet. Response time to e-mail sent here is slow.
James Robinson
2011-11-11 19:44:49 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Marc Van Dyck
Post by John S
So, all concrete ties just fall apart shortly after installation?
Funny, but they are used extensively in Europe...do they have the
same issues?
Not anymore. But there have been some deceiving experiences in the
past when concrete ties started to be introduced. Quality control is
essential. But today, it has indeed become very rare to still install
wooden ties for a new track. Even sidings get concrete ties nowadays.
The only significant exception that still remains is under turnouts.
And even there, concrete ties start appearing...
The major difference between Europe and North America is the availability
if inexpensive wooden ties in America. They are substantially less
expensive to buy than concrete. When one does an economic assessment of the
two types, wooden ties have a lower life cycle cost in most locations.
Concrete can only be economically justified by North American railways in
high traffic territories, typically where there is high curvature in
addition. In these cases, the lower long term maintenance cost justifies
the higher initial purchase price.
Marc Van Dyck
2011-11-13 20:41:47 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by James Robinson
Post by Marc Van Dyck
Post by John S
So, all concrete ties just fall apart shortly after installation?
Funny, but they are used extensively in Europe...do they have the
same issues?
Not anymore. But there have been some deceiving experiences in the
past when concrete ties started to be introduced. Quality control is
essential. But today, it has indeed become very rare to still install
wooden ties for a new track. Even sidings get concrete ties nowadays.
The only significant exception that still remains is under turnouts.
And even there, concrete ties start appearing...
The major difference between Europe and North America is the availability
if inexpensive wooden ties in America. They are substantially less
expensive to buy than concrete. When one does an economic assessment of the
two types, wooden ties have a lower life cycle cost in most locations.
Concrete can only be economically justified by North American railways in
high traffic territories, typically where there is high curvature in
addition. In these cases, the lower long term maintenance cost justifies
the higher initial purchase price.
It is not only a question of cost, but also a question of minimizing
traffic disruption.

The life expectancy of a wooden tie on a heavily used track usually did
not exceed 10 years. 7 in the worst cases. Concrete ties last easily
30 years. On tracks with 4 to 6 passenger moves every hour, reducing
the maintenance interventions by a factor 4 is a serious motivation.
--
Marc Van Dyck
James Robinson
2011-11-13 21:26:25 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Marc Van Dyck
Post by James Robinson
Post by Marc Van Dyck
Post by John S
So, all concrete ties just fall apart shortly after installation?
Funny, but they are used extensively in Europe...do they have the
same issues?
Not anymore. But there have been some deceiving experiences in the
past when concrete ties started to be introduced. Quality control is
essential. But today, it has indeed become very rare to still
install wooden ties for a new track. Even sidings get concrete ties
nowadays. The only significant exception that still remains is under
turnouts. And even there, concrete ties start appearing...
The major difference between Europe and North America is the
availability if inexpensive wooden ties in America. They are
substantially less expensive to buy than concrete. When one does an
economic assessment of the two types, wooden ties have a lower life
cycle cost in most locations. Concrete can only be economically
justified by North American railways in high traffic territories,
typically where there is high curvature in addition. In these cases,
the lower long term maintenance cost justifies the higher initial
purchase price.
It is not only a question of cost, but also a question of minimizing
traffic disruption.
The life expectancy of a wooden tie on a heavily used track usually
did not exceed 10 years. 7 in the worst cases. Concrete ties last
easily 30 years. On tracks with 4 to 6 passenger moves every hour,
reducing the maintenance interventions by a factor 4 is a serious
motivation.
Yes, and you evaluate the benefit by applying a cost to the disruptions.
John S
2012-02-11 05:48:36 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by James Robinson
Post by Marc Van Dyck
Post by John S
So, all concrete ties just fall apart shortly after installation?
Funny, but they are used extensively in Europe...do they have the
same issues?
Not anymore. But there have been some deceiving experiences in the
past when concrete ties started to be introduced. Quality control is
essential. But today, it has indeed become very rare to still install
wooden ties for a new track. Even sidings get concrete ties nowadays.
The only significant exception that still remains is under turnouts.
And even there, concrete ties start appearing...
The major difference between Europe and North America is the availability
if inexpensive wooden ties in America. They are substantially less
expensive to buy than concrete. When one does an economic assessment of the
two types, wooden ties have a lower life cycle cost in most locations.
Concrete can only be economically justified by North American railways in
high traffic territories, typically where there is high curvature in
addition. In these cases, the lower long term maintenance cost justifies
the higher initial purchase price.
For reference, the WMATA rapid transit "Silver Line," now under
construction in Virginia, is being built with concrete ties.
James Robinson
2012-02-11 12:53:23 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by John S
Post by James Robinson
Post by Marc Van Dyck
Post by John S
So, all concrete ties just fall apart shortly after installation?
Funny, but they are used extensively in Europe...do they have the
same issues?
Not anymore. But there have been some deceiving experiences in the
past when concrete ties started to be introduced. Quality control is
essential. But today, it has indeed become very rare to still
install wooden ties for a new track. Even sidings get concrete ties
nowadays. The only significant exception that still remains is under
turnouts. And even there, concrete ties start appearing...
The major difference between Europe and North America is the
availability if inexpensive wooden ties in America. They are
substantially less expensive to buy than concrete. When one does an
economic assessment of the two types, wooden ties have a lower life
cycle cost in most locations. Concrete can only be economically
justified by North American railways in high traffic territories,
typically where there is high curvature in addition. In these cases,
the lower long term maintenance cost justifies the higher initial
purchase price.
For reference, the WMATA rapid transit "Silver Line," now under
construction in Virginia, is being built with concrete ties.
Transit is a different economic animal. It doesn't make a profit, and it
is in the agencys' best interest to push as many operating costs into
capital expenses to reduce long-term operating cost. That way, their
annual subsidy is lower and easier for the owners to pass by the voters.
It's why you see most transit projects gold plated on the front end.
Stephen Sprunk
2012-02-11 14:25:59 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by James Robinson
Post by John S
Post by James Robinson
The major difference between Europe and North America is the
availability if inexpensive wooden ties in America. They are
substantially less expensive to buy than concrete. When one does an
economic assessment of the two types, wooden ties have a lower life
cycle cost in most locations. Concrete can only be economically
justified by North American railways in high traffic territories,
typically where there is high curvature in addition. In these cases,
the lower long term maintenance cost justifies the higher initial
purchase price.
For reference, the WMATA rapid transit "Silver Line," now under
construction in Virginia, is being built with concrete ties.
Transit is a different economic animal. It doesn't make a profit, and it
is in the agencys' best interest to push as many operating costs into
capital expenses to reduce long-term operating cost. That way, their
annual subsidy is lower and easier for the owners to pass by the voters.
It's why you see most transit projects gold plated on the front end.
Also, the FTA "New Starts" program encourages front-loading of even
capital costs. It's worth spending $2 now to save $1 later when 80% of
that $2 comes out of someone else's pocket.

S
--
Stephen Sprunk "God does not play dice." --Albert Einstein
CCIE #3723 "God is an inveterate gambler, and He throws the
K5SSS dice at every possible opportunity." --Stephen Hawking
Hans-Joachim Zierke
2012-11-13 14:17:25 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by James Robinson
The major difference between Europe and North America is the availability
if inexpensive wooden ties in America.
This difference does not exist. Of course, European railroads can buy
wooden ties, and of European manufacturers wouldn't be cheap enough, they
could buy them in the USA.

The real difference is, that track maintenance is more automatized in
Europe, and nobody touches a tie with his hands.


Hans-Joachim
James Robinson
2012-11-13 19:12:33 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Hans-Joachim Zierke <***@Zierke.com> wrote:

Wow! I've seen that name before.
Post by Hans-Joachim Zierke
Post by James Robinson
The major difference between Europe and North America is the
availability if inexpensive wooden ties in America.
This difference does not exist. Of course, European railroads can buy
wooden ties, and of European manufacturers wouldn't be cheap enough,
they could buy them in the USA.
Treated hardwood ties cost about $25 to $30, while concrete ties that meet
the necessary axle loads in North America are about $45 to $50 apiece.
Concrete crossties are used in locations where they are justified, such as
on high speed passenger routes or in heavily curving territory with heavy
train traffic. Wooden ties are used pretty well everywhere else because
they are far cheaper. Railroads use both types, and have for many years,
not to mention other types like steel and plastic, and their experience
still means they use wooden ties for the majority of their trackage.

Yes Europeans can buy hardwood ties from North America, but the
transportation cost pushes them up to much closer to that of locally-made
concrete ties. That makes the economics less attractive.
Post by Hans-Joachim Zierke
The real difference is, that track maintenance is more automatized in
Europe, and nobody touches a tie with his hands.
I don't see anyone touching the ties with their hands in this video:



That's a typical wood tie replacement gang.

With concrete, they use machines imported from Europe, so no lack of
knowledge about how they work:


Glen Labah
2012-11-14 04:24:55 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by James Robinson
Treated hardwood ties cost about $25 to $30, while concrete ties that meet
the necessary axle loads in North America are about $45 to $50 apiece.
Concrete crossties are used in locations where they are justified, such as
on high speed passenger routes or in heavily curving territory with heavy
train traffic. Wooden ties are used pretty well everywhere else because
they are far cheaper.
Obviously more on topic in m.t.r.a over ne.transportation, but:

Portland & Western has some concrete ties they installed on the old
Southern Pacific "Westside Branch" north of independence, Oregon. That
line sees only occasional traffic now.

Though, it is likely they got those surplus from a mainline or maybe
even light rail project. Shortlines can be pretty resourceful when it
comes to getting stuff cheap.

Part of this is that we don't have much in the way of hardwood forests
these days as the areas where Oregon Oak dominated have been replaced
with much faster growing Douglas Fir. The other problem is that vast
amounts of our forests are being exported to China, as they are willing
to pay more than the domestic mills can.
--
Please note this e-mail address is a pit of spam due to e-mail address
harvesters on Usenet. Response time to e-mail sent here is slow.
Hans-Joachim Zierke
2012-11-14 20:08:30 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by James Robinson
Treated hardwood ties cost about $25 to $30, while concrete ties that meet
the necessary axle loads in North America are about $45 to $50 apiece.
Buy them complete, outfitted with clamps for automated track production,
Loading Image...
and see what kind of a price difference you are going to get.

I don't have current numbers, but around 1990, the cost of a raw beechwood
tie was about 35DM in Germany, for a ready-to-mount concrete tie about
90 DM, and for a ready-to-mount beechwood tie about 110 DM. So the
question of "raw" vs. "ready-to-mount" isn't completely irrelevant... ;-)
The hardwood itself causes about 1/4 the costs of the finished tie.

In the 50s/60s, West German railroads bought about 3 million ties per year
(50/50 concrete/wood back then). In the late 80s, this was down to
1 million / year. Part of this is explained by cuts into network length,
but a major reason is longer lifecycle of ties.
Post by James Robinson
Concrete crossties are used in locations where they are justified, such as
on high speed passenger routes or in heavily curving territory with heavy
train traffic. Wooden ties are used pretty well everywhere else because
they are far cheaper.
With spike mounting, and rather high tolerances in alignment, for which
US railroads pay with weekly inspections instead of monthly or 2-monthly
inspections.

BTW: There have been attempts by US investors, to get into control of
European manufacturers of mounting clamps - forecasting a major boom of
the product in the USA due to lower lifecycle costs.
Post by James Robinson
Yes Europeans can buy hardwood ties from North America, but the
transportation cost pushes them up to much closer to that of locally-made
concrete ties. That makes the economics less attractive.
In fact, ties for German railroads were mostly made out of tropical
hardwood, in the last years when there was a major percentage of wooden
ties (1980s).

Transport costs? Rule of thumb is, that ocean transport from China to
Europe is as expensive as from the European harbour to destination. German
hardcoal comes from the Powder River, no longer out of local mines.
Post by James Robinson
http://youtu.be/XZNvhy73S9g
That's a typical wood tie replacement gang.
That's /typical/ meanwhile? Some years ago, I was told differently.
BTW: Somehow, the old ties got out, right?
Post by James Robinson
With concrete, they use machines imported from Europe,
The machine in the first video was made by Plasser as well.



Hans-Joachim
James Robinson
2012-11-15 01:26:06 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Hans-Joachim Zierke
Post by James Robinson
Treated hardwood ties cost about $25 to $30, while concrete ties that
meet the necessary axle loads in North America are about $45 to $50
apiece.
Buy them complete, outfitted with clamps for automated track
production,
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/65/Spannbetonschw
elle.jpg/1280px-Spannbetonschwelle.jpg and see what kind of a price
difference you are going to get.
I don't have current numbers, but around 1990, the cost of a raw
beechwood tie was about 35DM in Germany, for a ready-to-mount concrete
tie about 90 DM, and for a ready-to-mount beechwood tie about 110 DM.
So the question of "raw" vs. "ready-to-mount" isn't completely
irrelevant... ;-) The hardwood itself causes about 1/4 the costs of
the finished tie.
Your wooden tie description includes something like Pandrol spring clips.
The hardware necessary for those is much more expensive than simple cut
spikes and tie plates. Spring clips are only used in special locations
on wooden ties, such as around bridges and turnouts, plus in curvy
territory where traffic is moderately heavy, but where the annual tonnage
isn't high enough to justify concrete. Otherwise the hardware is just
too costly.
Post by Hans-Joachim Zierke
In the 50s/60s, West German railroads bought about 3 million ties per
year (50/50 concrete/wood back then). In the late 80s, this was down
to 1 million / year. Part of this is explained by cuts into network
length, but a major reason is longer lifecycle of ties.
In discounted cash flow analysis, it doesn't really matter if a tie lasts
only 40 years, while another lasts 50. The cost difference is trivial.
Post by Hans-Joachim Zierke
Post by James Robinson
Concrete crossties are used in locations where they are justified,
such as on high speed passenger routes or in heavily curving
territory with heavy train traffic. Wooden ties are used pretty well
everywhere else because they are far cheaper.
With spike mounting, and rather high tolerances in alignment, for
which US railroads pay with weekly inspections instead of monthly or
2-monthly inspections.
BTW: There have been attempts by US investors, to get into control of
European manufacturers of mounting clamps - forecasting a major boom
of the product in the USA due to lower lifecycle costs.
Hasn't happened yet, has it? In spite of 50 years' experience with such
things.
Post by Hans-Joachim Zierke
Post by James Robinson
http://youtu.be/XZNvhy73S9g
That's a typical wood tie replacement gang.
That's /typical/ meanwhile? Some years ago, I was told differently.
BTW: Somehow, the old ties got out, right?
Post by James Robinson
With concrete, they use machines imported from Europe,
The machine in the first video was made by Plasser as well.
Yes, many of the machines are from Austria and other European countries.
It doesn't change the general preference for wooden ties. It's economics
that drives that decision.
Hans-Joachim Zierke
2012-11-15 07:16:52 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by James Robinson
Your wooden tie description includes something like Pandrol spring clips.
Pandrol, Oberbau KS, or similar.
Post by James Robinson
The hardware necessary for those is much more expensive than simple cut
spikes and tie plates.
Exactly. The price difference to US wooden ties is /not/ explained by wood
vs. concrete, but by the mounting hardware. The raw concrete itself is
cheaper than the raw wooden tie.
Post by James Robinson
Spring clips are only used in special locations
on wooden ties, such as around bridges and turnouts, plus in curvy
territory where traffic is moderately heavy, but where the annual tonnage
isn't high enough to justify concrete. Otherwise the hardware is just
too costly.
Spring clips are used on wooden ties since generations (in Europe),
because they keep the gauge much better (with a margin of "several times")
and thus reduce maintenance costs by a major margin. In Germany, the first
standardized replacement system for spikes was fielded in 1926.
Post by James Robinson
In discounted cash flow analysis, it doesn't really matter if a tie lasts
only 40 years, while another lasts 50. The cost difference is trivial.
Looking at this here
Loading Image...

shows a slightly more than trivial cost difference. As I already wrote:
/Some/ part of it is explained by cuts into network length. The black parts
of the bars are the wooden ties, concrete in white.
Post by James Robinson
Post by Hans-Joachim Zierke
BTW: There have been attempts by US investors, to get into control of
European manufacturers of mounting clamps - forecasting a major boom
of the product in the USA due to lower lifecycle costs.
Hasn't happened yet, has it? In spite of 50 years' experience with such
things.
US investors trying to buy control? Yes, has happened for the reason
mentioned. For example, Wyser-Pratte was fended off by the Vossloh family
by increasing their own shares in Vossloh. Background is, that US tests in
Pueblo have given very favourable results for the clamps, several times
better in holding the gauge.

Which is just the same result as in European tests 50 years ago, and as
soon as decisionmaking is based on science instead of tradition, results
on both sides of the Atlantic have a strong tendency to be the same.
Post by James Robinson
Yes, many of the machines are from Austria and other European countries.
It's not easy to compete with Plasser in that field, they built the first
automated complete-rebuild-train (250yards/hour) in 1968 (for DB), and
have built more such stuff than anybody else.
Post by James Robinson
It doesn't change the general preference for wooden ties. It's economics
that drives that decision.
If major variations of gauge are declared acceptable, yes. If these aren't
acceptable, the economics drive decisions from spikes to clamps. For
European freight lines like this,

clamps are a lot cheaper (in life cycle costs).


Hans-Joachim
James Robinson
2012-11-15 15:54:44 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Hans-Joachim Zierke
Post by James Robinson
Your wooden tie description includes something like Pandrol spring clips.
Pandrol, Oberbau KS, or similar.
Post by James Robinson
The hardware necessary for those is much more expensive than simple
cut spikes and tie plates.
Exactly. The price difference to US wooden ties is /not/ explained by
wood vs. concrete, but by the mounting hardware. The raw concrete
itself is cheaper than the raw wooden tie.
No it isn't. Wooden ties with Pandrol clip hardware are cheaper than
concrete, at least in North America, so the hardware alone doesn't
explain the difference in cost. The raw wooden tie is far cheaper.
Post by Hans-Joachim Zierke
Post by James Robinson
Spring clips are only used in special locations
on wooden ties, such as around bridges and turnouts, plus in curvy
territory where traffic is moderately heavy, but where the annual
tonnage isn't high enough to justify concrete. Otherwise the
hardware is just too costly.
Spring clips are used on wooden ties since generations (in Europe),
because they keep the gauge much better (with a margin of "several
times") and thus reduce maintenance costs by a major margin. In
Germany, the first standardized replacement system for spikes was
fielded in 1926.
So how come track maintenance costs are lower in North America per ton
handled. even with the massively higher axle loads?

What the spring clips do is allow you to change out the rail without
causing the tie to deteriorate. Cut spikes can only be used for three or
so replacments before the holes where the spikes go get too enlarged to
hold the track in gauge, even with wooden plugs to fill the holes. Thus
there is an economic trade-off. Where rail replacement is relatively
rare, such as on track with few curves and moderate traffic, cut spikes
are cheaper. On curving track where the rail is replaced more often,
Pandrol clips might be used on wooden ties. However, railroads often
simply use concrete ties in those locations.
Post by Hans-Joachim Zierke
Post by James Robinson
In discounted cash flow analysis, it doesn't really matter if a tie
lasts only 40 years, while another lasts 50. The cost difference is
trivial.
Looking at this here
http://zierke.com/tmp/schwellen.png
shows a slightly more than trivial cost difference. As I already
wrote: /Some/ part of it is explained by cuts into network length. The
black parts of the bars are the wooden ties, concrete in white.
That's not a discounted cash flow, just a table of what government-owned
railways historically did. They typically aren't bound by economics.
Remember that if you expect a savings of $30 to be made 40 years from
now, the present value of that savings is only about 45 cents, meaning
that a for-profit company would only be willing to pay an extra 45 cents
to avoid a $30 cost that would be incurred 40 years from now.
Post by Hans-Joachim Zierke
Post by James Robinson
Post by Hans-Joachim Zierke
BTW: There have been attempts by US investors, to get into control
of European manufacturers of mounting clamps - forecasting a major
boom of the product in the USA due to lower lifecycle costs.
Hasn't happened yet, has it? In spite of 50 years' experience with
such things.
US investors trying to buy control? Yes, has happened for the reason
mentioned. For example, Wyser-Pratte was fended off by the Vossloh
family by increasing their own shares in Vossloh. Background is, that
US tests in Pueblo have given very favourable results for the clamps,
several times better in holding the gauge.
Which is just the same result as in European tests 50 years ago, and
as soon as decisionmaking is based on science instead of tradition,
results on both sides of the Atlantic have a strong tendency to be the
same.
Railroad decision-making is based on the economics of many years of
experience with various tracks designs and the resulting maintenance
cost. It is based on economics, not emotion. Track maintenance is a
major part of railroad operating budgets, and they are always adjusting
things to end up with the least overall cost when handling a given amount
of traffic. US railroads have 50 years of experience with concrete ties,
and they are very familiar with the economics. Concrete ties are used
where they are economically justified.
Post by Hans-Joachim Zierke
Post by James Robinson
It doesn't change the general preference for wooden ties. It's
economics that drives that decision.
If major variations of gauge are declared acceptable, yes. If these
aren't acceptable, the economics drive decisions from spikes to
clamps. For European freight lines like this,
http://youtu.be/C0QjIHyfkuk
clamps are a lot cheaper (in life cycle costs).
That track is over-maintained. The track in this video is more than
adequate for the traffic and speeds being operated, and is far less
expensive to maintain:


Hans-Joachim Zierke
2012-11-15 20:48:43 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by James Robinson
So how come track maintenance costs are lower in North America per ton
handled. even with the massively higher axle loads?
:-)
You don't seriously want to introduce this as an argument? Comparing
railroads handling 70-80% passenger trains with freight-only railroads
by the metric of "per ton handled"?

No, you did not mean this seriously. You've intended this to be a
persiflage of "argumentation" in some recent election... ;-)

If you make this "per mile" and include track inspection and derailment
costs, you might approach some kind of real-world comparison.
Post by James Robinson
What the spring clips do is allow you to change out the rail without
causing the tie to deteriorate.
What they also do, by their elasticity, is holding the preset gauge more
precisely and over much longer periods of time. I think the result of
US tests has been "5 times", but I read this quite some time ago, so there
could be some memory fading involved.
Post by James Robinson
That's not a discounted cash flow, just a table of what government-owned
railways historically did. They typically aren't bound by economics.
When looking for the most cost-efficient track maintenance, I won't look
to the USA, but have a look at Banverket in Sweden. Just because the USA
make government institutions inefficient, does not mean that it has to be
this way all around the world.
If we talk about the state-owned railroad infrastructure of Greece, yes,
then we might agree.
Post by James Robinson
Remember that if you expect a savings of $30 to be made 40 years from
now, the present value of that savings is only about 45 cents, meaning
that a for-profit company would only be willing to pay an extra 45 cents
to avoid a $30 cost that would be incurred 40 years from now.
A major share of the cost-saving happens right now: Just look at US
railroads inspecting, inspecting and inspecting their tracks once more,
every week, a huge make-work project.
Doing away with that needs a reasonable margin of safety. Otherwise, no
safety administration in the developed world will give you the nod for it.
Post by James Robinson
That track is over-maintained.
What I hear about research results, it's going to get more
"over-maintained" in future. It's amazing, how much force is generated by
small imperfections in the track, a little deviation invisible to the eye
being able to rub granite away.

And the best track maintenance strategy is: Not to touch it at all. If the
achieved condition justifies it.


Hans-Joachim
James Robinson
2012-11-16 00:44:26 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Hans-Joachim Zierke
Post by James Robinson
So how come track maintenance costs are lower in North America per
ton handled. even with the massively higher axle loads?
:-)
You don't seriously want to introduce this as an argument? Comparing
railroads handling 70-80% passenger trains with freight-only railroads
by the metric of "per ton handled"?
No, you did not mean this seriously. You've intended this to be a
persiflage of "argumentation" in some recent election... ;-)
If you make this "per mile" and include track inspection and
derailment costs, you might approach some kind of real-world
comparison.
No, I meant per ton-mile.
Post by Hans-Joachim Zierke
Post by James Robinson
What the spring clips do is allow you to change out the rail without
causing the tie to deteriorate.
What they also do, by their elasticity, is holding the preset gauge
more precisely and over much longer periods of time. I think the
result of US tests has been "5 times", but I read this quite some time
ago, so there could be some memory fading involved.
Yes, gauge holding is somewhat better, as long as there isn't any rail
seat erosion, which is common in wet areas. Overall, it's not that big a
problem in with either wooden or concrete ties.
Post by Hans-Joachim Zierke
Post by James Robinson
That's not a discounted cash flow, just a table of what
government-owned railways historically did. They typically aren't
bound by economics.
When looking for the most cost-efficient track maintenance, I won't
look to the USA, but have a look at Banverket in Sweden. Just because
the USA make government institutions inefficient, does not mean that
it has to be this way all around the world.
If we talk about the state-owned railroad infrastructure of Greece,
yes, then we might agree.
Why don't you look at North American costs? The private railroads do
much research into how to reduce maintenance cost, since it is a major
part of their expenses. They have refined the techniques over many
years, while accommodating increasing axles loads. Freight rates, which
are a reflection of costs, are the lowest of any major country in the
world. They have dropped something like 50 percent over the last 30
years, which is also a reflection of an improved cost structure, which
includes the cost of track maintenance. The railroads are also
reasonably profitable, in spite of the reduction in rates.
Post by Hans-Joachim Zierke
Post by James Robinson
Remember that if you expect a savings of $30 to be made 40 years from
now, the present value of that savings is only about 45 cents,
meaning that a for-profit company would only be willing to pay an
extra 45 cents to avoid a $30 cost that would be incurred 40 years
from now.
A major share of the cost-saving happens right now: Just look at US
railroads inspecting, inspecting and inspecting their tracks once
more, every week, a huge make-work project.
Doing away with that needs a reasonable margin of safety. Otherwise,
no safety administration in the developed world will give you the nod
for it.
Big deal. So an inspector drives down the track every couple of days at
30 mph, and a geometry car runs over the line a couple of times a year.
That isn't a major cost. The objective of most major railroads is to run
a heavy mechanized maintenance gang along a route when it needs repair,
then leaving the track untouched for many years as it slowly deteriorates
under traffic, until the gang is needed again. Long gone are the days
where people were assigned to short sections of track to keep it in
perfect condition. The costs of maintenance have dropped significantly
as a result, along with the number of track-related derailments.
Post by Hans-Joachim Zierke
Post by James Robinson
That track is over-maintained.
What I hear about research results, it's going to get more
"over-maintained" in future. It's amazing, how much force is generated
by small imperfections in the track, a little deviation invisible to
the eye being able to rub granite away.
And the best track maintenance strategy is: Not to touch it at all. If
the achieved condition justifies it.
Yes, and that's the us railroads' strategy.
Hans-Joachim Zierke
2012-11-16 16:08:15 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by James Robinson
Post by Hans-Joachim Zierke
You don't seriously want to introduce this as an argument? Comparing
railroads handling 70-80% passenger trains with freight-only railroads
by the metric of "per ton handled"?
No, you did not mean this seriously.
No, I meant per ton-mile.
And you have corrected the European figure to 1/4 or 1/5? At least in
Germany, the freight railroads pay about 20 - 25% of that maintenance via
track access price. In many other European countries, the share of freight
is lower.

After all, financing the party by sharing the costs is the basic idea of
European railroading, with freight being the junior partner.
Post by James Robinson
Freight rates, which
are a reflection of costs, are the lowest of any major country in the
world.
Freight rates for coal are great, less so for intermodal traffic. For the
distances, on which European railroads compete, a US railroad might not
even make an offer.
Post by James Robinson
The railroads are also
reasonably profitable, in spite of the reduction in rates.
Competitor railroads now move 26% of German railfreight, and some of them
seem to make good money. But in 2009, they got hit really hard.
Post by James Robinson
The objective of most major railroads is to run
a heavy mechanized maintenance gang along a route when it needs repair,
then leaving the track untouched for many years as it slowly deteriorates
under traffic, until the gang is needed again.
With better-built track, that period becomes longer.



h.
James Robinson
2012-11-18 02:02:17 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Hans-Joachim Zierke
Post by James Robinson
Post by Hans-Joachim Zierke
You don't seriously want to introduce this as an argument? Comparing
railroads handling 70-80% passenger trains with freight-only
railroads by the metric of "per ton handled"?
No, you did not mean this seriously.
No, I meant per ton-mile.
And you have corrected the European figure to 1/4 or 1/5? At least in
Germany, the freight railroads pay about 20 - 25% of that maintenance
via track access price. In many other European countries, the share of
freight is lower.
Doesn't matter. While there are lots of variables in setting prices,
the freight rates in the US are 1/2 of those in Europe, per ton-mile.
Maintenance is a major part of cost, which would have a significant
effect on the rates if they were higher in the US.
Post by Hans-Joachim Zierke
After all, financing the party by sharing the costs is the basic idea
of European railroading, with freight being the junior partner.
Of course freight traffic wears out the track far faster than a few
light passenger trains. With the modest speeds in the US, it isn't
difficult to keep the track in proper alignment. If passenger train
speeds were higher, then it would be a different issue.
Post by Hans-Joachim Zierke
Post by James Robinson
Freight rates, which are a reflection of costs, are the lowest of any
major country in the world.
Freight rates for coal are great, less so for intermodal traffic. For
the distances, on which European railroads compete, a US railroad
might not even make an offer.
Marketing is a different issue, more related to what service the
competition can provide, and how much they charge. For short distances,
like under 500 miles, the railroads can't come close in overall time when
terminal time is included, and trucks charge very low rates where only
one driver is required, and it is less than 8 hours travel. Hence why
North American railways have very little intermodal traffic under about
350 miles.
Post by Hans-Joachim Zierke
Post by James Robinson
The objective of most major railroads is to run
a heavy mechanized maintenance gang along a route when it needs
repair, then leaving the track untouched for many years as it slowly
deteriorates under traffic, until the gang is needed again.
With better-built track, that period becomes longer.
And if it costs more, the difference is quite small in the end on a
discounted cash flow basis, and may not be worth the extra money.
Adam H. Kerman
2012-11-18 05:18:54 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by James Robinson
Big deal. So an inspector drives down the track every couple of days at
30 mph, and a geometry car runs over the line a couple of times a year.
That isn't a major cost. The objective of most major railroads is to run
a heavy mechanized maintenance gang along a route when it needs repair,
then leaving the track untouched for many years as it slowly deteriorates
under traffic, until the gang is needed again. Long gone are the days
where people were assigned to short sections of track to keep it in
perfect condition. The costs of maintenance have dropped significantly
as a result, along with the number of track-related derailments.
Did you read Maury Klein's third book in the Union Pacific history? They
kept the track gangs specific to short stretches of track far longer than
other railroads did, and they found they were economically justified because
they could perform minor maintenance before it turned into major projects,
thus keeping the main lines in service for more of the time than
other railroads that switched to the methods you described.
James Robinson
2012-11-18 05:37:01 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by James Robinson
Big deal. So an inspector drives down the track every couple of days
at 30 mph, and a geometry car runs over the line a couple of times a
year. That isn't a major cost. The objective of most major
railroads is to run a heavy mechanized maintenance gang along a route
when it needs repair, then leaving the track untouched for many years
as it slowly deteriorates under traffic, until the gang is needed
again. Long gone are the days where people were assigned to short
sections of track to keep it in perfect condition. The costs of
maintenance have dropped significantly as a result, along with the
number of track-related derailments.
Did you read Maury Klein's third book in the Union Pacific history?
They kept the track gangs specific to short stretches of track far
longer than other railroads did, and they found they were economically
justified because they could perform minor maintenance before it
turned into major projects, thus keeping the main lines in service for
more of the time than other railroads that switched to the methods you
described.
So why isn't UP still doing it that way?
Adam H. Kerman
2012-11-18 05:47:57 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by James Robinson
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by James Robinson
Big deal. So an inspector drives down the track every couple of days
at 30 mph, and a geometry car runs over the line a couple of times a
year. That isn't a major cost. The objective of most major
railroads is to run a heavy mechanized maintenance gang along a route
when it needs repair, then leaving the track untouched for many years
as it slowly deteriorates under traffic, until the gang is needed
again. Long gone are the days where people were assigned to short
sections of track to keep it in perfect condition. The costs of
maintenance have dropped significantly as a result, along with the
number of track-related derailments.
Did you read Maury Klein's third book in the Union Pacific history?
They kept the track gangs specific to short stretches of track far
longer than other railroads did, and they found they were economically
justified because they could perform minor maintenance before it
turned into major projects, thus keeping the main lines in service for
more of the time than other railroads that switched to the methods you
described.
So why isn't UP still doing it that way?
Apparently the answer will be in Maury's fourth volume. The book was an
excellent history of the 1960's and 1970's and 1980's, but the author
didn't have enough perspective (in my opinion) for the more recent years
and didn't get into more modern practices. He never stated when they
finally eliminated the gangs.

I raised the issue because UP felt the other railroads were guessing and
hadn't taken into account the cost of keeping the railroad out of service
far longer versus the smaller scale preventative maintenance that 20
mile track gangs were able to perform, so no, it's hardly the case that
decisions are necessarily made on the basis of a sound business case.
James Robinson
2012-11-18 15:07:00 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by James Robinson
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by James Robinson
Big deal. So an inspector drives down the track every couple of
days at 30 mph, and a geometry car runs over the line a couple of
times a year. That isn't a major cost. The objective of most
major railroads is to run a heavy mechanized maintenance gang along
a route when it needs repair, then leaving the track untouched for
many years as it slowly deteriorates under traffic, until the gang
is needed again. Long gone are the days where people were assigned
to short sections of track to keep it in perfect condition. The
costs of maintenance have dropped significantly as a result, along
with the number of track-related derailments.
Did you read Maury Klein's third book in the Union Pacific history?
They kept the track gangs specific to short stretches of track far
longer than other railroads did, and they found they were
economically justified because they could perform minor maintenance
before it turned into major projects, thus keeping the main lines in
service for more of the time than other railroads that switched to
the methods you described.
So why isn't UP still doing it that way?
Apparently the answer will be in Maury's fourth volume. The book was
an excellent history of the 1960's and 1970's and 1980's, but the
author didn't have enough perspective (in my opinion) for the more
recent years and didn't get into more modern practices. He never
stated when they finally eliminated the gangs.
I raised the issue because UP felt the other railroads were guessing
and hadn't taken into account the cost of keeping the railroad out of
service far longer versus the smaller scale preventative maintenance
that 20 mile track gangs were able to perform, so no, it's hardly the
case that decisions are necessarily made on the basis of a sound
business case.
Railroads all have specialized mobile gangs that do spot repairs in
between the major overhauls of the track and roadbed. This can include
such things as the replacement of short sections of rail found defective
by ultrasonic or magnetic inspection, replacement of frogs in turnouts,
spot replacement of a couple of ties, and tamping track that might have
heaved from frost. The gangs just aren't aligned with the traditional
geographic section, and are much more mechanized. Some railroads stuck
with the traditional section gangs long beyond when they were effective.
Adam H. Kerman
2012-11-18 19:17:16 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Note that I've changed Subject to reflect thread drift.
Post by James Robinson
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by James Robinson
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by James Robinson
Big deal. So an inspector drives down the track every couple of
days at 30 mph, and a geometry car runs over the line a couple of
times a year. That isn't a major cost. The objective of most
major railroads is to run a heavy mechanized maintenance gang along
a route when it needs repair, then leaving the track untouched for
many years as it slowly deteriorates under traffic, until the gang
is needed again. Long gone are the days where people were assigned
to short sections of track to keep it in perfect condition. The
costs of maintenance have dropped significantly as a result, along
with the number of track-related derailments.
Did you read Maury Klein's third book in the Union Pacific history?
They kept the track gangs specific to short stretches of track far
longer than other railroads did, and they found they were
economically justified because they could perform minor maintenance
before it turned into major projects, thus keeping the main lines in
service for more of the time than other railroads that switched to
the methods you described.
So why isn't UP still doing it that way?
Apparently the answer will be in Maury's fourth volume. The book was
an excellent history of the 1960's and 1970's and 1980's, but the
author didn't have enough perspective (in my opinion) for the more
recent years and didn't get into more modern practices. He never
stated when they finally eliminated the gangs.
I raised the issue because UP felt the other railroads were guessing
and hadn't taken into account the cost of keeping the railroad out of
service far longer versus the smaller scale preventative maintenance
that 20 mile track gangs were able to perform, so no, it's hardly the
case that decisions are necessarily made on the basis of a sound
business case.
Railroads all have specialized mobile gangs that do spot repairs in
between the major overhauls of the track and roadbed. This can include
such things as the replacement of short sections of rail found defective
by ultrasonic or magnetic inspection, replacement of frogs in turnouts,
spot replacement of a couple of ties, and tamping track that might have
heaved from frost. The gangs just aren't aligned with the traditional
geographic section, and are much more mechanized. Some railroads stuck
with the traditional section gangs long beyond when they were effective.
Example of a railroad that stuck with section gangs without sound
business judgment? It's not like Maury Klein was writing about an era
in which today's mechanization had yet replaced most manual m-o-w work
of a section gang.

Track inspectors in a hy-rail vehicle see what they can see from a seat
6 feet above top of rail. I'm aware that a trained ear can also hear
some types of metal fatigue.

It's quite possible that metal fatigue can't be eyeballed from that seat
if the failure begins at the bottom of the rail.

What equipment is in a hy-rail for automated measurements?

What equipment is capable of performing ultrasonic or magnetic inspection
and how often would it be run over a particular track segment?

How do you know to replace a particular tie or frog or any bit of special
work if you're not standing on the ground inspecting it?
James Robinson
2012-11-19 17:00:27 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Track inspectors in a hy-rail vehicle see what they can see from a seat
6 feet above top of rail. I'm aware that a trained ear can also hear
some types of metal fatigue.
They get out of the hyrail to look at locations of particular significance,
like bridges and culverts when the water is high, or turnouts or diamonds.
Post by Adam H. Kerman
It's quite possible that metal fatigue can't be eyeballed from that seat
if the failure begins at the bottom of the rail.
They don't typically look for rail fatigue, but will of course see obvious
damage. They let the rail inspection trucks look for more internal damage.
Post by Adam H. Kerman
What equipment is in a hy-rail for automated measurements?
Nothing in the track inspectors truck. More specialized vehicles are used
to test track geometry or for internal rail flaws.
Post by Adam H. Kerman
What equipment is capable of performing ultrasonic or magnetic inspection
and how often would it be run over a particular track segment?
Companies such as Sperry offer contract services to do the task. They
might operate annually over a light traffic line, or perhaps four times a
year on lines with heavy traffic.

http://www.sperryrail.com/
Post by Adam H. Kerman
How do you know to replace a particular tie or frog or any bit of special
work if you're not standing on the ground inspecting it?
You stand on the ground to inspect it.

Hans-Joachim Zierke
2012-11-15 15:55:17 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Hans-Joachim Zierke
http://youtu.be/C0QjIHyfkuk
Actually, the second part of this video is quite nice:


Not related to Americas, but at least, railroad content... ;-) Filmed
by the driver of one of those lightweight European intermodals. And
available in HD.



Hans-Joachim
conklin
2012-11-14 21:22:04 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by James Robinson
Wow! I've seen that name before.
Post by Hans-Joachim Zierke
Post by James Robinson
The major difference between Europe and North America is the
availability if inexpensive wooden ties in America.
This difference does not exist. Of course, European railroads can buy
wooden ties, and of European manufacturers wouldn't be cheap enough,
they could buy them in the USA.
Treated hardwood ties cost about $25 to $30, while concrete ties that meet
the necessary axle loads in North America are about $45 to $50 apiece.
Concrete crossties are used in locations where they are justified, such as
on high speed passenger routes or in heavily curving territory with heavy
train traffic. Wooden ties are used pretty well everywhere else because
they are far cheaper. Railroads use both types, and have for many years,
not to mention other types like steel and plastic, and their experience
still means they use wooden ties for the majority of their trackage.
Yes Europeans can buy hardwood ties from North America, but the
transportation cost pushes them up to much closer to that of locally-made
concrete ties. That makes the economics less attractive.
Post by Hans-Joachim Zierke
The real difference is, that track maintenance is more automatized in
Europe, and nobody touches a tie with his hands.
http://youtu.be/XZNvhy73S9g
That's a typical wood tie replacement gang.
With concrete, they use machines imported from Europe, so no lack of
http://youtu.be/hn_paNdTG-M
Great links. On the wooden tie video, how do they remove the old ones? Was
that done first separately?
James Robinson
2012-11-14 23:24:57 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by conklin
Post by James Robinson
Wow! I've seen that name before.
Post by Hans-Joachim Zierke
Post by James Robinson
The major difference between Europe and North America is the
availability if inexpensive wooden ties in America.
This difference does not exist. Of course, European railroads can
buy wooden ties, and of European manufacturers wouldn't be cheap
enough, they could buy them in the USA.
Treated hardwood ties cost about $25 to $30, while concrete ties that
meet the necessary axle loads in North America are about $45 to $50
apiece. Concrete crossties are used in locations where they are
justified, such as on high speed passenger routes or in heavily
curving territory with heavy train traffic. Wooden ties are used
pretty well everywhere else because they are far cheaper. Railroads
use both types, and have for many years, not to mention other types
like steel and plastic, and their experience still means they use
wooden ties for the majority of their trackage.
Yes Europeans can buy hardwood ties from North America, but the
transportation cost pushes them up to much closer to that of
locally-made concrete ties. That makes the economics less attractive.
Post by Hans-Joachim Zierke
The real difference is, that track maintenance is more automatized
in Europe, and nobody touches a tie with his hands.
http://youtu.be/XZNvhy73S9g
That's a typical wood tie replacement gang.
With concrete, they use machines imported from Europe, so no lack of
http://youtu.be/hn_paNdTG-M
Great links. On the wooden tie video, how do they remove the old
ones? Was that done first separately?
There's a hydraulic spike pulling machine, and a machine that pulls the
old tie and leaves it beside the track for later recovery. Before the
insertion machine passes, they also use a crane with an electormagnet to
pick up the old spikes and tie plates.
conklin
2012-11-15 03:11:00 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by James Robinson
Post by conklin
Post by James Robinson
Wow! I've seen that name before.
Post by Hans-Joachim Zierke
Post by James Robinson
The major difference between Europe and North America is the
availability if inexpensive wooden ties in America.
This difference does not exist. Of course, European railroads can
buy wooden ties, and of European manufacturers wouldn't be cheap
enough, they could buy them in the USA.
Treated hardwood ties cost about $25 to $30, while concrete ties that
meet the necessary axle loads in North America are about $45 to $50
apiece. Concrete crossties are used in locations where they are
justified, such as on high speed passenger routes or in heavily
curving territory with heavy train traffic. Wooden ties are used
pretty well everywhere else because they are far cheaper. Railroads
use both types, and have for many years, not to mention other types
like steel and plastic, and their experience still means they use
wooden ties for the majority of their trackage.
Yes Europeans can buy hardwood ties from North America, but the
transportation cost pushes them up to much closer to that of
locally-made concrete ties. That makes the economics less attractive.
Post by Hans-Joachim Zierke
The real difference is, that track maintenance is more automatized
in Europe, and nobody touches a tie with his hands.
http://youtu.be/XZNvhy73S9g
That's a typical wood tie replacement gang.
With concrete, they use machines imported from Europe, so no lack of
http://youtu.be/hn_paNdTG-M
Great links. On the wooden tie video, how do they remove the old
ones? Was that done first separately?
There's a hydraulic spike pulling machine, and a machine that pulls the
old tie and leaves it beside the track for later recovery. Before the
insertion machine passes, they also use a crane with an electormagnet to
pick up the old spikes and tie plates.
Thanks. Has the price of wooden ties gone up a whole lot recently?
Creosote is still used? I had read that creosote had been banned. You
don't see it used on electric poles anymore, do you?
David Lesher
2012-11-15 05:17:44 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
I always assumed a wooden tie helped absorb the shock loads of
the wheel passing. Obviously concrete ties have no give, so what
does give?
--
A host is a host from coast to ***@nrk.com
& no one will talk to a host that's close........[v].(301) 56-LINUX
Unless the host (that isn't close).........................pob 1433
is busy, hung or dead....................................20915-1433
Hans-Joachim Zierke
2012-11-15 05:51:24 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by David Lesher
I always assumed a wooden tie helped absorb the shock loads of
the wheel passing.
That's correct.
Post by David Lesher
Obviously concrete ties have no give, so what
does give?
The granite below is quite elastic. (No kidding)

Plus the new generation of concrete ties wears plastic shoes, in order to
avoid higher wear of the granite.


Hans-Joachim
James Robinson
2012-11-15 14:58:10 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by David Lesher
I always assumed a wooden tie helped absorb the shock loads of
the wheel passing. Obviously concrete ties have no give, so what
does give?
Wooden ties do give, up to a point. Wood is remarkable in that if you
don't apply a force that crushes the fibers, they will spring back to shape
over and over again. Tie plates are used under the rails to spread the
force out enough that the wood is protected.

A rubber-like pad is used under the rails to cushion the forces between the
rail and concrete ties. It is one of the compromises on a railroad in that
the rigidity of the pad has to be high where heavy axle loads are run to
avoid squishing the pad to destruction, but where high speed passenger
trains are run (i.e. >150mph) you need a more flexible pad to protect the
ties. Thus running heavy axle load freight trains on lines designed to
carry high speed trains will destroy the pads and the ties.
Hans-Joachim Zierke
2012-11-15 18:46:34 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by James Robinson
A rubber-like pad is used under the rails to cushion the forces between the
rail and concrete ties. It is one of the compromises on a railroad in that
the rigidity of the pad has to be high where heavy axle loads are run to
avoid squishing the pad to destruction, but where high speed passenger
trains are run (i.e. >150mph) you need a more flexible pad to protect the
ties.
SNCF has demonstrated over a timeframe of 40 years, that high-speed lines
work without pads unter the ties.

(If the trains feature HSR axleload - might not be true for Le Cochon.)

If it works without, it also should work with hard pads.



Hans-Joachim
James Robinson
2012-11-15 20:00:38 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Hans-Joachim Zierke
Post by James Robinson
A rubber-like pad is used under the rails to cushion the forces
between the rail and concrete ties. It is one of the compromises on
a railroad in that the rigidity of the pad has to be high where heavy
axle loads are run to avoid squishing the pad to destruction, but
where high speed passenger trains are run (i.e. >150mph) you need a
more flexible pad to protect the ties.
SNCF has demonstrated over a timeframe of 40 years, that high-speed
lines work without pads unter the ties.
(If the trains feature HSR axleload - might not be true for Le
Cochon.)
If it works without, it also should work with hard pads.
They have? Quote from the TGV Track Wiki site:

"Rubber pads are always used under the rail on concrete sleepers, to
avoid cracking"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TGV_track_construction

There's an identical quote on the TGVWeb site. Probably the same
authors.

Every track cross-section I've seen has a pad somewhere. In most cases
it is directly under the rail, but sometimes there is a large pad under
the tie itself. The idea of the pad is to absorb vibration that can
shorten the life of the crosstie.

Do you have an example of a design without pads?
Nick Fotis
2012-11-15 20:19:19 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
HaJo (hey, we missed you!) spoke about pads under the ties/sleeper, no
under the rails.

N.F.
Hans-Joachim Zierke
2012-11-15 21:27:59 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Nick Fotis
HaJo (hey, we missed you!)
Back to Berlin and to my own life.



Hans-Joachim
Nick Fotis
2012-11-16 21:55:40 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Hans-Joachim Zierke
Post by Nick Fotis
HaJo (hey, we missed you!)
Back to Berlin and to my own life.
Damn, didn't know that - else I would love to arrange a meet at
Innotrans. Maybe next time?

N.F.
Hans-Joachim Zierke
2012-11-17 09:59:11 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Nick Fotis
Post by Hans-Joachim Zierke
Back to Berlin and to my own life.
Damn, didn't know that -
My stay in the little village was in favour of this young lady
http://zierke.com/private/tante_frieda/picpages/hase_pino_abgestellt.html.en
who had to spend only her last day in hospital, age 96.

The term "subcortical arteriosclerotic encephalopathy" might describe the
fun of it. As long as she was able to do some physical training, it was
possible to keep the problem in check, at least to some extent. At some
point, I ran out of tricks up my sleeve, though.
Post by Nick Fotis
else I would love to arrange a meet at
Innotrans. Maybe next time?
Sure.



Hans-Joachim
Hans-Joachim Zierke
2012-11-15 21:25:44 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by James Robinson
"Rubber pads are always used under the rail on concrete sleepers, to
avoid cracking"
Under the rail? Of course. Not just on TGV track.
Post by James Robinson
Every track cross-section I've seen has a pad somewhere. In most cases
it is directly under the rail, but sometimes there is a large pad under
the tie itself. The idea of the pad is to absorb vibration that can
shorten the life of the crosstie.
What I was talking about, is a pad under the tie. Wooden ties achieve less
wear of the granite under the tie, by their elasticity and lower surface
hardness. Pads under the tie get there, too.



Hans-Joachim
James Robinson
2012-11-15 22:55:04 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Hans-Joachim Zierke
Post by James Robinson
"Rubber pads are always used under the rail on concrete sleepers, to
avoid cracking"
Under the rail? Of course. Not just on TGV track.
Post by James Robinson
Every track cross-section I've seen has a pad somewhere. In most
cases it is directly under the rail, but sometimes there is a large
pad under the tie itself. The idea of the pad is to absorb vibration
that can shorten the life of the crosstie.
What I was talking about, is a pad under the tie. Wooden ties achieve
less wear of the granite under the tie, by their elasticity and lower
surface hardness. Pads under the tie get there, too.
Well, we were writing at cross-purposes. My reply to George was that a pad
was used between the rail and the ties to cushion the impact on the ties,
while you were describing pads between the ties and ballast. North
American railroads typically don't use a pad under the ties, only under the
rails themselves. The rock ballast and subgrade provides the rest of the
necessary cushioning.

The problem of the type of pads between the rail and the ties persists
between heavy axle load operation and the operation of high speed trains.
Hans-Joachim Zierke
2012-11-16 15:07:04 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by James Robinson
Well, we were writing at cross-purposes. My reply to George was that a pad
was used between the rail and the ties to cushion the impact on the ties,
while you were describing pads between the ties and ballast. North
American railroads typically don't use a pad under the ties, only under the
rails themselves. The rock ballast and subgrade provides the rest of the
necessary cushioning.
The same used to be true for Europe, but there have been experiments with
"shoes" under concrete ties in years gone by, with positive results, and
now they are installed on a larger scale. Higher price, but less granite
abrasion.
Post by James Robinson
The problem of the type of pads between the rail and the ties persists
between heavy axle load operation and the operation of high speed trains.
Would be interesting to ask Banverket about Botniabanen. (66139 lbs,
155 mph)
There is plenty of freight on 174 mph track in Germany, but that's only EU
standard freight (axleload 55116 lb).


Hans-Joachim
James Robinson
2012-11-15 14:50:48 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by conklin
Post by James Robinson
Post by conklin
Post by James Robinson
Wow! I've seen that name before.
Post by Hans-Joachim Zierke
Post by James Robinson
The major difference between Europe and North America is the
availability if inexpensive wooden ties in America.
This difference does not exist. Of course, European railroads can
buy wooden ties, and of European manufacturers wouldn't be cheap
enough, they could buy them in the USA.
Treated hardwood ties cost about $25 to $30, while concrete ties
that meet the necessary axle loads in North America are about $45
to $50 apiece. Concrete crossties are used in locations where they
are justified, such as on high speed passenger routes or in heavily
curving territory with heavy train traffic. Wooden ties are used
pretty well everywhere else because they are far cheaper.
Railroads use both types, and have for many years, not to mention
other types like steel and plastic, and their experience still
means they use wooden ties for the majority of their trackage.
Yes Europeans can buy hardwood ties from North America, but the
transportation cost pushes them up to much closer to that of
locally-made concrete ties. That makes the economics less
attractive.
Post by Hans-Joachim Zierke
The real difference is, that track maintenance is more automatized
in Europe, and nobody touches a tie with his hands.
http://youtu.be/XZNvhy73S9g
That's a typical wood tie replacement gang.
With concrete, they use machines imported from Europe, so no lack
http://youtu.be/hn_paNdTG-M
Great links. On the wooden tie video, how do they remove the old
ones? Was that done first separately?
There's a hydraulic spike pulling machine, and a machine that pulls
the old tie and leaves it beside the track for later recovery.
Before the insertion machine passes, they also use a crane with an
electormagnet to pick up the old spikes and tie plates.
Thanks. Has the price of wooden ties gone up a whole lot recently?
Creosote is still used? I had read that creosote had been banned.
You don't see it used on electric poles anymore, do you?
Wooden tie prices have risen because of limitations in supply, but the
more serious issue is environmental, and how old ties are disposed of.
Creosote is still widely used, but the EPA tightened up standards on how
it is produced and used, and how treated wood is disposed of. The
railroads are somewhat leery of getting hit with cleanup costs at old
storage and treatment sites.

Just for your info, Liquid Smoke, which many people add to certain types
of food, is essentially creosote. Think of that next time you are eating
your BBQ at the Original Q Shack.
conklin
2012-11-15 15:33:37 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by James Robinson
Post by conklin
Post by James Robinson
Post by conklin
Post by James Robinson
Wow! I've seen that name before.
Post by Hans-Joachim Zierke
Post by James Robinson
The major difference between Europe and North America is the
availability if inexpensive wooden ties in America.
This difference does not exist. Of course, European railroads can
buy wooden ties, and of European manufacturers wouldn't be cheap
enough, they could buy them in the USA.
Treated hardwood ties cost about $25 to $30, while concrete ties
that meet the necessary axle loads in North America are about $45
to $50 apiece. Concrete crossties are used in locations where they
are justified, such as on high speed passenger routes or in heavily
curving territory with heavy train traffic. Wooden ties are used
pretty well everywhere else because they are far cheaper.
Railroads use both types, and have for many years, not to mention
other types like steel and plastic, and their experience still
means they use wooden ties for the majority of their trackage.
Yes Europeans can buy hardwood ties from North America, but the
transportation cost pushes them up to much closer to that of
locally-made concrete ties. That makes the economics less
attractive.
Post by Hans-Joachim Zierke
The real difference is, that track maintenance is more automatized
in Europe, and nobody touches a tie with his hands.
http://youtu.be/XZNvhy73S9g
That's a typical wood tie replacement gang.
With concrete, they use machines imported from Europe, so no lack
http://youtu.be/hn_paNdTG-M
Great links. On the wooden tie video, how do they remove the old
ones? Was that done first separately?
There's a hydraulic spike pulling machine, and a machine that pulls
the old tie and leaves it beside the track for later recovery.
Before the insertion machine passes, they also use a crane with an
electormagnet to pick up the old spikes and tie plates.
Thanks. Has the price of wooden ties gone up a whole lot recently?
Creosote is still used? I had read that creosote had been banned.
You don't see it used on electric poles anymore, do you?
Wooden tie prices have risen because of limitations in supply, but the
more serious issue is environmental, and how old ties are disposed of.
Creosote is still widely used, but the EPA tightened up standards on how
it is produced and used, and how treated wood is disposed of. The
railroads are somewhat leery of getting hit with cleanup costs at old
storage and treatment sites.
Just for your info, Liquid Smoke, which many people add to certain types
of food, is essentially creosote. Think of that next time you are eating
your BBQ at the Original Q Shack.
Why is the supply of wooden ties limited?

I read a story about the depression in MO. Local farmers would work all day
cutting a tie for a RR out of lumber on their land. And then they got 50
cents for it. Given today's prices, that would be only about $5 for a day's
work, not counting the cost of the lumber itself. I am assuming that was an
untreated tie.
James Robinson
2012-11-15 16:02:20 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by conklin
Post by James Robinson
Post by conklin
Post by James Robinson
Post by conklin
Post by James Robinson
Wow! I've seen that name before.
Post by Hans-Joachim Zierke
Post by James Robinson
The major difference between Europe and North America is the
availability if inexpensive wooden ties in America.
This difference does not exist. Of course, European railroads
can buy wooden ties, and of European manufacturers wouldn't be
cheap enough, they could buy them in the USA.
Treated hardwood ties cost about $25 to $30, while concrete ties
that meet the necessary axle loads in North America are about $45
to $50 apiece. Concrete crossties are used in locations where
they are justified, such as on high speed passenger routes or in
heavily curving territory with heavy train traffic. Wooden ties
are used pretty well everywhere else because they are far
cheaper. Railroads use both types, and have for many years, not
to mention other types like steel and plastic, and their
experience still means they use wooden ties for the majority of
their trackage.
Yes Europeans can buy hardwood ties from North America, but the
transportation cost pushes them up to much closer to that of
locally-made concrete ties. That makes the economics less
attractive.
Post by Hans-Joachim Zierke
The real difference is, that track maintenance is more
automatized in Europe, and nobody touches a tie with his hands.
http://youtu.be/XZNvhy73S9g
That's a typical wood tie replacement gang.
With concrete, they use machines imported from Europe, so no lack
http://youtu.be/hn_paNdTG-M
Great links. On the wooden tie video, how do they remove the old
ones? Was that done first separately?
There's a hydraulic spike pulling machine, and a machine that pulls
the old tie and leaves it beside the track for later recovery.
Before the insertion machine passes, they also use a crane with an
electormagnet to pick up the old spikes and tie plates.
Thanks. Has the price of wooden ties gone up a whole lot recently?
Creosote is still used? I had read that creosote had been banned.
You don't see it used on electric poles anymore, do you?
Wooden tie prices have risen because of limitations in supply, but
the more serious issue is environmental, and how old ties are
disposed of. Creosote is still widely used, but the EPA tightened up
standards on how it is produced and used, and how treated wood is
disposed of. The railroads are somewhat leery of getting hit with
cleanup costs at old storage and treatment sites.
Just for your info, Liquid Smoke, which many people add to certain
types of food, is essentially creosote. Think of that next time you
are eating your BBQ at the Original Q Shack.
Why is the supply of wooden ties limited?
Lack of hardwood close to the area where you need the ties. Railroads
are having to buy them farther away, and with restricted supply, costs
rise.
Post by conklin
I read a story about the depression in MO. Local farmers would work
all day cutting a tie for a RR out of lumber on their land. And then
they got 50 cents for it. Given today's prices, that would be only
about $5 for a day's work, not counting the cost of the lumber itself.
I am assuming that was an untreated tie.
Railroads mostly used softwood ties in those days, like pine, but boxcars
only weighed something like 85 tons when fully-loaded. Cars weigh 143
tons today, and railroads have had to move to hardwood ties for the most
part to support those weights. Railroads did use untreated ties early
on, but treated ties became very common a century ago because of their
much longer life.
Glen Labah
2012-11-17 03:49:50 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by James Robinson
Railroads mostly used softwood ties in those days, like pine, but boxcars
only weighed something like 85 tons when fully-loaded. Cars weigh 143
tons today, and railroads have had to move to hardwood ties for the most
part to support those weights.
Here in Oregon from time to time they do still use softwood ties,
because that is what we have here. Only about 0.05% of the Oregon White
Oak ecosystem that once covered the Willamtte Valley remains, and what
little is left tends to be fully or somewhat protected.

I had read of various other experiments with other tie materials as
well. For example, I know that for a while someone was making ties out
of a mixture of concrete and recycled hard plastic. I heard that the
early experiments worked out reasonably well, but the ties were
expensive because of the very limited production runs that were made in
the experiments.
--
Please note this e-mail address is a pit of spam due to e-mail address
harvesters on Usenet. Response time to e-mail sent here is slow.
Stephen Sprunk
2011-11-11 19:52:00 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by James Robinson
Post by John S
By the MBTA's accounting, if these ties are bad, then all concrete
ties must be bad....
Somebody with some economic sense probably looked at the issue and
figured out that the extra life of concrete wasn't worth the extra cost
involved in a commuter operation. This isn't a heavy-haul railroad where
concrete can withstand impacts better, and can handle frequent rail
replacement more easily. In a discounted cash flow analysis of the
economics, whether a tie lasts 30 years or 50 years has pretty well no
effect on the end result. In short, MBTA was probably right when they
originally went to tender for wooden ties only.
If concrete ties are only worth it for heavy-haul operations, why is
that every light rail system I've seen uses concrete ties? Light rail
equipment is even lighter than commuter equipment!

S
--
Stephen Sprunk "God does not play dice." --Albert Einstein
CCIE #3723 "God is an inveterate gambler, and He throws the
K5SSS dice at every possible opportunity." --Stephen Hawking
James Robinson
2011-11-11 20:17:54 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Stephen Sprunk
Post by James Robinson
Post by John S
By the MBTA's accounting, if these ties are bad, then all concrete
ties must be bad....
Somebody with some economic sense probably looked at the issue and
figured out that the extra life of concrete wasn't worth the extra
cost involved in a commuter operation. This isn't a heavy-haul
railroad where concrete can withstand impacts better, and can handle
frequent rail replacement more easily. In a discounted cash flow
analysis of the economics, whether a tie lasts 30 years or 50 years
has pretty well no effect on the end result. In short, MBTA was
probably right when they originally went to tender for wooden ties
only.
If concrete ties are only worth it for heavy-haul operations, why is
that every light rail system I've seen uses concrete ties? Light rail
equipment is even lighter than commuter equipment!
It's the old story that capital is easier to get than operating money for
government agencies.

You will notice that for-profit North American railroads are very selective
about where they use concrete ties. It is driven by economics.
John Albert
2011-11-17 14:19:07 UTC
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"From the story: "The MBTA does not plan on purchasing
concrete ties in the future. The new ties on the OCRR are
all wood."

Somebody up there has a brain.

I _know_ how widespread concrete ties are in Europe.
I _know_ how others in this forum tout their advantages
vis-a-vis wood ties.

But from my observations over the past 30+ years of running
over them, they don't seem to holding up well in American
usage, insofar as those advantages were supposed to be.

This goes _beyond_ the recent case of "defective" ties used
by Amtrak, Metro-North, and perhaps others, that came from
that supplier down around Maryland (or was it Delaware or
NJ?). I can't say whether it has to do with subsurface
preparation, ongoing maintenece (which doesn't happen much
after the ties are installed), or something else "in the
American railroad scheme of things".

It seems that in many places, the concrete ties last no
longer than a good wood tie (by "good wood tie" I refer to a
tie that was properly creosoted, like they did in the old
days) -- and in some usages, much LESS longer.

Some areas in particular that concrete ties don't hold up:

- Insulated rail joints -- modern insulated joints are
usually "pre-constructed" from two short pieces of rail,
with the insulated connection bolted/cemeted together. They
are then spliced into position and the end joints are
spot-welded with the running rails. With wood ties
underneath the insulated joint, the wood acts as a "shock
absorber" between the ballast and the rail itself as the
weight of the train passes over the joint. The entire
assembly (both rails and the joint itself) can "move"
slightly up and down as a unit. But with concrete ties,
there can be no "give" between the weight of the train and
the ballast. Nothing there to absorb the shocks. What
happens next is the ties begin to wear from the bottom up
(in a battle of concrete vs. rock, concrete loses). Now, as
the train passes over there is the brute force impact each
time at the joint itself. The result is that, over time, the
joint gives out. Ultimately the insulated joint deteriorates
to the point where it feels like it's going to just break
under impact. The track department can go in, replace a few
of the concrete ties, and tamp up the ballast, but once one
of these pre-constructed insulated joints loses it's
"initial integrety", it's doomed.

- Bridge decks -- this is where concrete ties adjoin a
highway (or other) underpass which uses a wooden tie bridge
deck. (Aside: in many places it's impossible to rebuild the
deck with a concrete "bathtub" and concrete ties do to
clearance limitation underneath, or wire clearances
overhead.) No matter how carefully the track department
surfaces the concrete ties on either side of the deck, it
seems like the surfacing doesn't keep its trim too long. The
result is a heave due to uneven rail heights on either side
of the deck. (My solution, which they ought to consider,
would be to run about 20 wood ties on either end of the deck
before they transition back to concrete.)

- Tunnels, station platforms, wet spots -- anyplace where
there is the possibility of moisture building up between the
bottom of the ties and the ballast, there's going to be
problems. Without fail, the bottom of the ties will begin
grinding against the ballast and result in an unstable
surface above. This came to be so bad in the "East Haven
Tunnels" on the Shoreline that they finally went in, removed
all the concrete ties, and re-installed wooden ties, which
might need replacement individually as they wear, but don't
become dangerously unstable as do concrete ties. Wasn't
there a derailment in Washington State where an Amtrak train
literally had a bad stretch of concrete ties crumble to
pieces underneath it?

I've no doubt that the concrete can be used to advantage in
_some_ places. But again, from what I've seen, around these
parts, the promise seems to have been much more enticing
than the payoff...

- John
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