Amtrak state of good repair backlog tops $33.3 billion

Written by Paul Conley, Editor-in-Chief
SOGR backlog
The Acela Express travels over the Bush River rail bridge in Maryland.
Amtrak

There’s a lot of work to be done on Amtrak. The railroad said its state of good repair backlog (SOGR) has passed $33.3 billion, with $28.1 billion of that on the Northeast Corridor.

Those billion-dollar figures, included in a five-year infrastructure plan released by the railroad, mark an historic low point for the passenger service. Amtrak describes the state of good repair backlog (SOGR) as “the assets that have been assessed as at or nearing the end of their useful lives.”

Amtrak Engineering has set set a target of 10 years to eliminate the SOGR backlog, the railroad said, while noting that only some portions of that goal is likely to be reached. “While achieving a 10-year schedule for all asset types would likely require more support resources (manpower, equipment and track outages) than are realistically available, Amtrak is confident that some assets such as Track, can be accomplished in this period if adequate funding is available,” the railroad said in its report.

AMTRAK SOGR plan

Amtrak says it will need “$3.33 billion per year to address SOGR across all the asset categories” during the next decade. The railroad also notes that when “assessing our forecast FY2019 to FY2024 capital funding there is a $17.6 billion shortfall in funding to begin to address SOGR,” Amtrak said. Complicating matters is that the money needed to address the SOGR “is in addition to the necessary $1.2 billion annual steady state investment required to prevent further infrastructure deterioration.”

Constrained

The railroad cites years of underinvestment for the SOGR problem, and issued a “constrained” ‘s infrastructure plan for FY2019 to FY2024 capital program that doesn’t include SOGR funding. for Engineering totals $6.45 billion – of which $5.25 billion is infrastructure projects.

The full report runs 356 pages, and is full of detailed descriptions of work planned for the system. The entire report is worth a read, but some key highlights include

— $$436,384,111 over six years in spending related to concrete tie replacement along the Northeast Corridor. That project uses Track Laying System (TLS) , a mechanized rail and concrete tie replacement unit utilizing the Track Laying Machine (TLM). The projects’ team, dubbed TLS Blue, has 129 workers made up of five gangs (Head-End, TLM, Clipping, Surfacing and Material Handling).

— $93,791,94 over six years to replace wayside and interlocking turnouts throughout the Northeast Corridor. Also performed under this program is the removal of old ballast and track to restore proper drainage and the installation of new track panels.

— $500,000 in FY2019 for a total redesign of the concrete tie used in high speed track. This will include benchmarking current design, developing and evaluating alternate designs, producing prototypes, laboratory testing and installation in track most of the work will be carried out by engineering consultants familiar with concrete tie design.

— $646,841 over six years for rail grinding of newly installed continuously welded rail or switches along the NEC. (Grinding of older rail and switches will remain in the core budget.”

Categories: Intercity, ON Track Maintenance, Passenger, Track Maintenance
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