ATLANTA – Norfolk Southern’s Maintenance of Way and Structures Team utilize a helicopter as part of its vegetation management strategy.
In a report from its Media Room, Norfolk Southern’s Maintenance of Way and Structures Team utilize a helicopter as part of its vegetation management strategy. RT&S covers vegetation management annually. The work involved keeps any hazardous obstacles, like tree branches, from being struck by passing trains and increases visibility of the track for train crews. If left unattended, overgrown branches can hang down over the track or even “interlock overhead on both sides of the track, creating a tunnelling effect.” With the addition of winter weather, it makes for clearing snow and ice more hazardous for maintenance crews.
Norfolk Southern gets “a helping hand” from the use of a helicopter. According to the Class I, the helicopter pilot “suspends a 90-foot arm from the helicopter with 10 spinning circular saws on each side.” Then, blades cut back the branches as much as needed, depending on the size of the tree. By doing this, it also reduces a risk “posed by high voltage power lines and improves right of way access.”
AVP of Maintenance of Way and Structures at Norfolk Southern, Dwayne Gibson, said: “We began using helicopters as part of our vegetation management strategy in 2018. . . Since that time, helicopters have proven to be a safer, more efficient, and productive way to clear branches, particularly in the many inaccessible locations across our network.” Some of the places it has used helicopters as a vegetation management strategy are Charlotte, Birmingham, and Manassas, Virginia. Currently, it is working on clearing routes from Chattanooga to Cincinnati.