News & Reviews News Wire BNSF testing locomotive-mounted track geometry system

BNSF testing locomotive-mounted track geometry system

By | August 4, 2023

Test comes as NTSB calls for wide adoption of such systems following Montana derailment

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Metal box mounted on locomotive
The Locomotive Mounted Autonomous Track Geometry Monitoring System, as mounted on a locomotive. Kawasaki

BNSF Railway is now testing Kawasaki’s Locomotive-Mounted Autonomous Track Geometry Measurement System, Kawasaki has announced.

The system uses sensors and cameras to provide near-real-time track geometry data for track maintenance planning, Kawasaki says in a press release. Production units of the system have been in use since 2021 and have provided over 500,000 miles of geometry data to railroads. The company says the system provides “a frequent, valuable, and cost-efficient service to BNSF.” It explains how the system works in this online brochure.

The announcement comes at about the same time the National Transportation Safety Board has called for all trains to have such autonomous track geometry equipment as part of the NTSB report on the derailment of the Empire Builder on BNSF at Joplin, Mont., on Sept. 25, 2021 [see “NTSB says track conditions caused fatal … derailment,” Trains News Wire, July 27, 2023].

The NTSB’s report summary said that, and a locomotive equipped with automated track geometry inspection inspected the derailment site earlier in the day, BNSF might have had a chance to address the track issues that led to the derailment.

In addition to testing this technology, and its use manned track geometry inspection equipment, BNSF also operates unmanned inspection cars that operated in dedicated trains, usually with a locomotive, one freight car, and a modified former passenger car. BNSF discussed that program in this 2021 article on its website.

Train with locomotive, hopper car, and former passenger car, as seen in going-away view
A BNSF automated track-geometry train passes through Clarendon Hills, Ill., on Sept. 30, 2022. David Lassen





2 thoughts on “BNSF testing locomotive-mounted track geometry system

  1. Having ridden in Bedroom A in Auto Train on very bumpy CSX tracks from Richmond to Sanford. The resistance of the railroads to using locomotive mounted track geometry equipment is that they would have to spend more money when they rather fix the track after problems show up.

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