2022 Heavy Haul Session


Can Autonomous Track Geometry Inspection Replace Traditional Manual Track Inspection? An Industry Update.

Brad Kerchof

Brad Kerchof
Advanced Rail Management Corp.

Class 1 railroads are currently expanding their autonomous track geometry testing hoping that this testing could eventually replace some of the FRA-mandated manual inspections that have been the industry’s standard for decades. The keys to this track inspection initiative include development of new autonomous testing technologies and data processing capabilities; establishing a measurement standard that allows the railroad and FRA to determine if rail safety is, in fact, improved by this new method; and a waiver from FRA allowing railroads to reduce the frequency of manual inspections as their autonomous testing capability progressed.

This presentation looks at the technologies and processes that railroads have employed over the past three years as they have sought to prove to FRA that a fundamental change in the way track is inspected can enhance safety.