R.L. Banks & Associates, Inc. (RLBA) recently completed a multi-year, multi-disciplinary study of the internal plant railroad used to service the GE Power facility at Schenectady, New York. RLBA was engaged by GE following interest its management had in increasing the maximum net rail load of its multi-axle flatcars from 800,000 lbs to 1,000,000 lbs and gauging how that weight increase might impact its track infrastructure. In response, RLBA: 1) undertook a detailed inspection and inventory of the entire GE Power rail assets; 2) provided a written report outlining infrastructure improvements, and estimated costs, to bring track into a state of good repair; 3) generated a written maintenance plan to keep the track in a state of good repair; 4) undertook surveying on-site to lay out a new turnaround facility; 5) provided conceptual engineering drawings of a new turnaround facility and 6) offered expert guidance on re-setting a continuously-welded rail curve at a proper rail neutral temperature. Shortly thereafter, GE engaged RLBA to manage a series of management tasks concerning returning its rail infrastructure and equipment to a state of good repair.
Regarding equipment, RLBA oversaw a detailed inspection of two 16 axle depressed center flatcars, each of 800,000 pound capacity. This included disassembling the flatcars down to the individual trucks to inspect key components and managing the procurement of new, custom-fabricated center bowls for replacement of those on the car. RLBA also worked with GE to petition the Federal Railroad Administration to enable one of the two railcars to operate beyond 50 years in age. That waiver was successfully granted in mid-2017, just as the railcar reached 50 years in age.
Furthermore, RLBA was engaged by GE Power to manage the rebuilding of two trucks of a General Electric 85 ton center cab diesel-electric locomotive No. 21, which is employed by GE Power to move loads around its Schenectady, New York, manufacturing facility. Working in connection with a local machine shop and a mechanical subconsultant, RLBA oversaw: 1) the transport of two spare, un-rebuilt trucks from GE Power to the machine shop; 2) complete disassembly and inspection of the spare trucks; 3) straightening of the truck frames, sandblasting of the truck frames and brake rigging, and painting of the equipment; 4) procurement of four rebuilt GE traction motors; 5) contract milling of the four wheelsets to return them to proper wheel profile; 6) complete rebuilding of the gearboxes; 7) swapping the spare trucks with the worn out trucks under No. 21; and 8) commissioning and testing of the trucks, tweaking as necessary to ensure reliable operation.
Regarding infrastructure, RLBA’s recommendations regarding repair of a welded rail curve as well as removal of vestigial rail structures were followed by the GE rail contractor. These corrections minimized risk and ongoing maintenance to the operation of the railroad. In addition, GE followed RLBA’s recommendation to re-install a “Wye” track, something that would increase the operational flexibility of the railroad and decrease premature wear of GE’s equipment.