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Service Change Ongoing
MBTA service levels have been increased in the interest of the health and safety of our riders and employees. All riders must use face coverings when on the MBTA.

New Equipment Improves Reliability

Posted on September 24, 2008

The MBTA and the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Company have
rolled out a new High Pressure Rail Washer. 
A very important tool in the ongoing efforts to maintain reliable and
efficient service, this specialized equipment is used to clean leaves off of
the railroad tracks in the fall to prevent potentially dangerous
situations due to slippery tracks.  The MBTA and MBCR have invested
significant resources in this customized safety equipment as part of their
commitment to improve safety and reliability throughout the MBTA’s
sprawling Commuter Rail system.


Autumn “Slippery Rail”

o “Slippery rail” is a combination of water, leaf oil, and pressure from the train that creates a sticky black ooze atop the rails, which renders them too slick for train wheels to gain traction.

o During the fall, this slippery residue requires engineers to brake earlier to make stops and accelerate more slowly to limit wheel slippage. 

o Left unchecked, “slippery rail” can cripple equipment and result in millions of dollars in repair costs, as well as reduced On Time Performance.

High Pressure Rail Washer

o In 2005, MBCR created an effective, high-powered water-pressure system that blasts the residue off the rails.

o This power washer system sprays water at 15,000 pounds per square inch to clean the tops of the rails to improve traction.

o The system consists of diesel engine and pump mounted on a skid, and all peripheral equipment.

o The sprayer system and control cab were installed on an 89 foot flat car. It consists of a locomotive, the high pressure sprayer car, a tank car with a capacity of 22,000 gallons of water, and a caboose. The washer is capable of cleaning heavy accumulation from the top of the rail at a speed of 15 to 25 miles per hour.

o The washer is capable of cleaning heavy accumulation from the top of the rail head at a speed of 15 to 25 miles per hour.


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Joe Pesaturo