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INDUSTRY FOCUSRAILFREIGHT


HLI Rail & Rigging has invested in a tilting Schnabel railcar.


stations built or upgraded,” Labyak said. Bill Taylor, managing partner at Colossal


Transport Solutions, agreed. “Planning and communication is so important, especially on a big project where there are multiple components to bring in. Lots of states and even counties have different rules, so we need to talk to all local councils, police forces and traffic people. “Rail has less disruption than roads, but


rail sidings are often not at the ultimate jobsite. Local communities find it exciting to see these huge pieces moving, but when it stops them getting the kids to school on time, it is not so good.”


Improving economy A more positive note, he said, is that the USA’s economy is improving and business is good in the petrochemical and power generation industries. “It seems like the money is flowing again


from investors and so projects are being planned and going forward – and then so does demand for logistical services. We have had a seven or eight year spell where the government was not very conducive to work being done in America. It has gone overseas and our economy suffered because of that. “The administration is very different now


and with that pocketbooks are opening, money is flowing, investors are willing to spend money and projects are given the go-ahead. I expect the next six or seven years to be good with manufacturing booming and the economy taking off. One of the key challenges to overcome is


ageing rail infrastructure. Mike Scott, partner-director of rail at HLI Rail & Rigging, said: “The infrastructure has been there 100 years and not much has changed.


66 May/June 2019


The challenge is when they do maintenance projects for a bridge or tunnel – we need to ensure that the same clearance is maintained or even improved. –Mike Scott, HLI Rail & Rigging


The challenge is when they do maintenance projects for a bridge or tunnel – we need to ensure that the same clearance is maintained or even improved. If they do not pay attention to historical dimensions, we can lose the ability to move some loads. “It can be an ongoing battle to make sure


they maintain the status quo. But we – and our customers – work with railroads. Sometimes customers might share in a project to improve a bridge or tunnel location to allow larger pieces to be transported by rail.” For HLI Rail & Rigging, as for several


other companies, one of the answers has been to invest in the tilting Schnabel railcar. “It has shifting capabilities that allow us to


move loads to get past signals and through tunnels that we could not pass before,” said Scott. Not only will it help move transformers and turbines, “we see additional opportunities as boiler manufacturers are looking to build larger and wider units”.


No push for rail He added that many states do not like out- of-gauge (OOG) cargoes on the roads so sometimes shippers have to show that a load could not go by rail. “But there is no real push by authorities for a move to rail [for these shipments].” For Robert Sutton, senior vice president,


project and rail at BNSF Logistics, the issue with the infrastructure is not really about weight. “The limiting factor is likely to be width and height, rather than weight. It can be hard to move a single unit from the factory as parts are getting larger and larger.” One thing that railway owners could do,


he suggested, is to go back and check the accuracy of the classified clearance. “The technology used to be a tape measure to work out width and height clearances, but now we have laser measuring machines that are obviously much more accurate.” He admitted that this can work both


ways, with some routes downgraded rather than upgraded, but said: “An inch can make the difference as to whether we can move something or not, and we also have a better understanding from a dynamic standpoint as to how cargo will move.” Labyak said that railroad companies such


as CSX are keeping many bridges upgraded and there is generally more emphasis on getting heavier traffic off the roads. This is to minimise the negative impact on the


www.heavyliftpfi.com


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