Re “To end derailments, fix rails” (Letters, March 1) and “Rails overused, causing derailments” (Letters, March 3): I totally agree with these letters. I would like to include another important item, rail car maintenance – “rip track” is what we called it when I worked for the Southern Pacific Railroad for several years.
The entire wheel assembly, called the “truck,” is removed from the box car, flat car or tank car. The main item inspected is the wheel assembly, particularly the flange, for flaws on the wheel. This is what keeps the wheel on the track. If a piece breaks off, you’ll have a serious accident. Another thing of importance to inspect is the “journal-axle” bearing for wear or signs of excessive heating.
Second, air-brake assemblies are inspected, replaced if necessary, then tested.
Wheels on locomotives have regular similar maintenance.
Southern Pacific had rail section gangs throughout the division, with daily maintenance of rails, bedding, ties, plates and spikes. This included “alignment of tracks.”
I understand today’s technology is done by computer scanner, “vehicles on tracks.” This is great, but the old human eye is better in certain situations.
Michael Harris Jr., Modesto