Equipment Used For Railway Maintenance

Trains are one of the best transportation methods to get a large amount of cargo delivered as fast as possible between faraway places, provided that there are no major water bodies in between them. Cargo capacity needs to be mentioned especially because it easily exceeds the capacity of even the largest of trucks, thus making trains way more efficient at moving cargo. The main disadvantage about train transportation, though, is the fact that there need to be railroads built in place to connect each and every station out there, and these stretches of rail tracks need to be looked after to ensure that they are in good enough condition for trains to use them. As a result of that, several different types of maintenance equipment have been created to facilitate maintenance work. The following are some examples of such machines:

Shoulder Cleaners

Shoulder cleaners are an important piece of equipment that rail companies need for track maintenance. Their purpose is to keep the track ballast (the material upon which the rail tracks are laid) clean, free from excessive debris that may get stuck on the trains travelling over them. Previously, the process of cleaning track ballast was done manually, but its inefficiency led to the development of shoulder cleaners, which are still used nowadays (mostly unchanged) for the same purpose.


Shoulder cleaners are typically effective at keeping track ballast (mostly made of gravel that is finely crushed into tiny pieces) clean, but once the ballast material has worn down to a certain point, it must be replaced. To do this, undercutters are used to scope up the material from below the tracks, which can then be retrieved and loaded onto flatbeds for removal. Since ballast replacement is a much slower process, shoulder cleaners are used more often than undercutters.

Railway Grinders

Rail grinders are a type of equipment which has helped to greatly extend the usable life of train tracks by re-profiling their external surface to avoid uneven wearing. This reduces the risk of the rail tracks getting distorted, which in turn minimizes the chance of train derailments occurring. Rail grinding has also made maintenance work much cheaper (by avoiding the need to constantly replace rail tracks due to wear), and virtually all railroad contractors possess a few of them on standby.

Spike Inserters

These machines, which look quite complicated from the outside, have the task of laying down spikes into railroad plates at a quick pace. Most of the time, two or three operators are assigned to one machine to coordinate the feeding of spikes to the machine and laying them down on the plates themselves. Again, these machines replaced slow manual labour to ensure that downtime is minimal and trains can be operated again on that track as quickly as possible.