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Nighttime light rail maintenance work set to begin on VTA

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The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority in California is set to begin a rail grinding project Jan. 16 that will see heavy equipment working on light rail tracks in Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, Campbell and San Jose for the next 20 nights between the hours of 11:30 p.m. and 4 a.m.

A key benefit of rail
grinding is quieter train operations, both on straight and curved tracks. Rail
grinding removes minute surface irregularities in the rail surface caused by
normal train operations, allowing rail car wheels to more smoothly roll over
the track, which in turn reduces noise generated by light rail vehicles.

Targeted for grinding this
year is "embedded" trackway most commonly found at intersections or pedestrian
malls.  Embedded track is laid in
concrete, rather than on ties. Affected by the upcoming work will be the
embedded trackway between the Children’s Discovery Museum Light Rail Station to
just past Interstate 880 on North First Street and intersections from there to
the Mountain View Light Rail Station. Minor amounts of rail grinding will also
take place on VTA light rail tracks located in east and south San Jose and

The grinding equipment is
integrated into a rail car and is too large and slow moving to be used while
regular passenger service is running so the work must be done during late night
hours. The machine moves at a rate of approximately 1.5 miles per hour,
although more than one pass of the grinder is generally required to reach an
optimal track contour. Work at most locations will be finished in 20 to 40

While the noise of the grinding
is audible to someone located near the work, noise levels are required to be no
greater than 85 decibels at 25 feet from the center of the track. This noise
level is roughly equivalent to noise generated by a hair dryer or vacuum

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