WMATA takes delivery of track geometry vehicle

Written by Mischa Wanek-Libman, editor

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority has accepted delivery of its first track geometry vehicle (TGV), a specialized railcar equipped with advanced technology to analyze the condition of rail and track infrastructure and to alert WMATA to potential defects.

The TGV, built by Ensco, Inc., gives WMATA in-house capability to inspect track with greater speed and efficiency and to detect track anomalies before they have an impact on service.

“Ultrasonic and geometry testing can be performed to assist in managing maintenance needs and advance identification of ‘trouble spots’ to improve reliability of service and limit disruptions,” said Tom Robinson, WMATA’s deputy chief engineer track and structures.

The TGV will assist WMATA in the detection of track conditions that ultimately can become cracked rails.

Previously, track tests were contracted to third parties and performed only during non-revenue hours using a standard ultrasound technology. The TGV will allow for testing during both non-revenue and operating hours, providing greater flexibility in use of the vehicle and cost savings to WMATA. In addition, the TGV features multi-dimensional analysis capabilities, beyond ultrasound, including the ability to:

• Measure rail geometry, rail profile, platform edges and third rail temperatures

• Perform ultrasonic rail flaw inspections

• Record video of track beds and tunnels

• Utilize infrared video to identify hot third-rail components

• Travel and perform some testing at speeds up to 60 mph

WMATA’s TGV was custom-built for the agency’s needs, and boasts the largest number of inspection systems integrated into a single vehicle built by Ensco to date.

The TGV will undergo a period of calibration and testing before entering service later this year.