Green River Star -

By Lillian Palmer
Staff Writer 

City's rails get sharpened


Star photo by Lillian Palmer

People driving over the bridge on Uinta Drive during the past couple nights may have noticed a very brightly lit train sitting in the Green River rail yard.

It may even have resembled city building lights or a row of street lights they were so bright. What it was, was the Loram rail grinder train coming through town, grinding and maintaining the main rail lines as it goes through Green River and on toward Denver.

The rail grinder comes through Green River about once a year. So if residents didn't see the train lighting up the yard, one could probably witness it again in months to come.

Rail grinding is a routine maintenance done to the track that occurs every so often.

"A rail grinder is a maintenance-of-way vehicle or train used to restore the profile and remove irregularities from worn rail track to extend its life and to improve the ride of trains using the track," Stan Blake, a state representative and U.P. employee said.

The profile of the rail changes shape as trains go over the rail continuously, and can damage the rail, crack or scratch it when trains ride over the rail time after time.

Grinding irregularities out of the track not only increases the life of the track, it increases safety, and fuel efficiency. Trains ride much easier and more efficient on a smooth track. A smooth rail makes less friction on the train and less wear and tear on the train's wheels.

When the grinder train is in grinding operation, it will grind for up to 12 hours at a time. It can grind up to about 30 miles a day. The next 12 hours are spent maintaining the train and grinding equipment.

Grinding creates a lot of sparks, so a lot of water is kept on hand and close by in case of a fire.

About 75,000 gallons of water is kept on the train itself.

Two water trucks follow directly behind the grinder as it goes to catch any sparks.

The grinder unit that passed through Green River was the RG412, with a crew of about 15 people. The unit was grinding from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the day, while at night doing maintenance.

During the summertime, in warmer weather, the grinding portion of the operation is done overnight for cooler temperatures.


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