Heavier rails laid in White River Junction
Rails over a century old are being replaced
WHITE RIVER JUNCTION - A railroad gang out of Rutland swept through downtown White River Junction on Wednesday replacing rails that in some cases dated to the late-1800s with newer steel designed to carry heavier modern freight trains.
Out with the old, in with the new.
The crews from Vermont Rail Systems were pulling up lengths of rail stamped with dates like "1908" from right behind the Amtrak Station, including a few which had been forged before the First World War by the giant German firm Krupp, and the workers said they had seen some rails further up the line that were from the late 19th century.
Some of the individual wooden railroad ties in downtown White River Junction had "date nails" stuck in them that indicated they'd been installed in the 1920s.
First the old rail has to be cut loose.
The work now underway, which will eventually include the replacement of 6,000 ties this fall on the line running up the eastern edge of Vermont from White River Junction to St. Johnsbury, consists of swapping out lengths of "85-pound-rail" for more durable "100-pound-rail" (the weight designation indicates what a three-foot-long section of the steel rail would weigh if you cut it up).
A locomotive crawls past piles of steel tie plates that have been pulled up in the rail yard.
The new lengths of rail are bolted together with overlapping joint bars.
A specialized vehicle whams in new railroad spikes every few feet.
Miscellaneous tools follow the work gang on a rail cart.
The track crew takes a break while a freight train detours past their work area on a siding.
The rail being removed will be stacked and inspected and, railroads being railroads, sooner or later much of it will likely be reconditioned and used again in sidings and other low-traffic areas around the rail system.