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Concrete Ties

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Andrew

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How long and wide and tall are the concrete ties that Amtrak typically uses on the Northeast Corridor?
 

PRR 60

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How long and wide and tall are the concrete ties that Amtrak typically uses on the Northeast Corridor?
Rough approximation: varies by the manufacturer and type of tie used:

8'-6" long, 11" wide, 9" deep at the ends, 7" deep at the center.
 

penguinflies

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Followon question, how long is the lifespan of a concrete tie? I keep seeing more and more used ones on the side of the tracks on between STL-CHI and stacks of new ones to replace them.
 

PVD

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Some of the manufacturers claim up to 60, outside analysts are more likely to say 35-50, dependent on the weights of the loads, traffic volume, and environmental conditions. There have been some well publicized (within industry circles) cases of substandard lifespan of whole batches of ties, leading to large scale replacement.
 

me_little_me

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Some of the manufacturers claim up to 60, outside analysts are more likely to say 35-50, dependent on the weights of the loads, traffic volume, and environmental conditions. There have been some well publicized (within industry circles) cases of substandard lifespan of whole batches of ties, leading to large scale replacement.
That happened to MARTA. And if you do a web search on defective concrete ties, there are all sorts of hits.
 

PRR 60

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Mainline wood cross ties are 9" wide, 7" deep, and 8'-6" long. Like most lumber, the width and depth dimensions are nominal. The actual dimensions are about 1/4" less than nominal. Depending on the wood species, a timber tie weighs about 225 pounds, more or less.
 

Hytec

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What are the long term statistics of concrete vs. wood ties? Concrete has been available and in use for at least thirty years, but I'm still seeing/hearing most replacements being wood instead of concrete. Are there specific advantages to concrete in terms of train frequency, weight, speed, where wood would be at a disadvantage?

BTW, I don't know about concrete, but Mythbusters (Jamie & Adam) made a Lead Blimp that flew! So I assume a concrete tie might be feasible...assuming your neck had the same physical characteristics as Arnold Schwarzenegger's....... :p
 

PVD

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Another interesting alternative now in the mix are the recycled plastic offerings. There are different studies available, some are sponsored by parties with vested interests, some are not. Strongly suggest a google search, there is a great deal out there, and one size obviously does not fit all situations.
 
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Im currently studying about cracks on railway ties.

I work in the Metro of Recife, Brazil... We are facing this problem now, if you guys have any material that may help me understand better the situation, i would be very pleased
 

DonNewcomb

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Concrete ties/sleepers are used extensively in Europe. They must have a lot of data on the advantages and disadvantages. Of course, the track attachment is completely different.
 

jimmrl

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I was "in the industry" in the late 90's.

Two key area's in terms of your cracking issues:
1. The Manufacturing process. Bad process, bad materials, bad design, all can cause issues. The bad ties in the north east from about 20-25 years I think have been narrowed down to bad aggregate and maybe process.
2. Installation/maintenance. This is key to ALL ties, but can really mess up concrete ties. If drainage is not proper and you have a lot of freeze/thaw cycles it can break up a concrete tie quickly. Bad Drainage can shorten the life cycle of all ties.

Jim
 

railiner

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I think
Im currently studying about cracks on railway ties.

I work in the Metro of Recife, Brazil... We are facing this problem now, if you guys have any material that may help me understand better the situation, i would be very pleased
I would suggest you look for you answer's in a forum more focused on the 'trade', than this one, more for Amtrak enthusiasts....
Perhaps in something like this?
https://www.rtands.com/
and https://www.rtands.com/track-structure/ballast-ties-rail/new-paradigm-design-concrete-crossties/
 

Siegmund

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I was under the impression - possibly incorrect - that the advantage of steel or concrete ties was more in the direction of holding gauge and elevation precisely, vs.allowing a fishplate to sink into the wood or a spike to get shoved slowly sideways. Not so much about lifespan. Such that it was mostly used in places with high speeds / high side-loads on the rails / otherwise places where wood didn't hold the rails in place well.

In my part of MT, concrete was used extensively around the Flathead Tunnel, and on some of the lengthened sidings, but hasn't been systematically used everywhere the former Great Northern has been upgraded.

The concrete ties are commonly used as bumpers/placemarkers in parking lots in this area.
 

jis

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In some parts of the world like India it has always been primarily about non availability of wood.

India had substantially converted to Steel before converting to Concrete across the board.
 
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cirdan

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What are the long term statistics of concrete vs. wood ties? Concrete has been available and in use for at least thirty years, but I'm still seeing/hearing most replacements being wood instead of concrete. Are there specific advantages to concrete in terms of train frequency, weight, speed, where wood would be at a disadvantage?
One advantage of wooden ties is that it is easier to make custom track elements, such as non standard crossings and switches, as it is far easier to cut or spike wood in a non standard way than customize concrete.

I understand that on some bridges, wooden ties are also used because concrete ones would be too heavy for the bridge.

But I guess concrete ones are cheaper, so are ideal on long straight sections of track requiring no customization.
 

jimmrl

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Mar 9, 2016
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Cirdan is correct about customized Concrete ties being really hard. Customized Steel turnouts is just as easy as "standard" turnouts. Since there are no "standard" turnouts (different frogs, point, etc) the only company in the US that makes steel turnouts makes them ALL custom per the customers wishes.
 

DonNewcomb

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Jun 11, 2019
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I suppose wood sleepers count as being "carbon neutral" whereas the concrete ones depend on how much fossil fuel was used to cook the cement.
 
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