Norfolk Southern Railway said its Maintenance of Way and Structures Department pushed through $21 million in track, signal and bridge work in seven days in southwestern Pennsylvania, closely timed to get all the work done during a one-week summer break for coal miners.
The NS “Mon Line” that was the focus of the work is one if its main coal-hauling rail lines in that part of the state, named for the Monongahela River and running 85 miles from Pittsburgh to mines in Washington and Greene counties. About 20 coal trains use that track each day, and in 2009 it carried almost 42 million tons of coal.
“Because the Mon Line is critical to Pennsylvania’s coal industry, every year in early July we undertake an intensive effort to maintain and improve the rail infrastructure to ensure that the mines continue to receive consistent and reliable service,” said Tim Drake, NS’ vice president engineering.
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That puts them on a very fast pace during the heat of the summer, and this year’s has been one of the hottest on record. NS said the work they did would normally take three months, and require shipment curfews that disrupt service throughout that time. So the railroad planned a major logistical campaign.
During the miner’s annual summer break July 4-10, NS brought in nearly 600 engineering workers from across its 22-state network. The project also took six work trains, and more than 100 pieces of large machinery.
They installed more than 56,000 new crossties and almost 19 miles of new rail. They also repaired or repaved 23 road-rail grade crossings, resurfaced the entire length of line, replaced one bridge entirely and did substantial work on two others.
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