Steady Tracks in Turbulent Times

Our nation’s railroads are playing a key role in supporting our communities and economy throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and Balfour Beatty’s Track Solutions team is helping ensure everything stays on track – literally.

It might have been a while since you set foot on a train, but we have been relying on them all along. Freight railroads serve as a critical link to almost every industrial, wholesale, retail and resource-based sector of the US economy. Each week, an estimated 60,000 carloads of food and agricultural products are transported via rail. Most of the products we buy at big-chain retailers have relied on rail networks to get there.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, railways have played a crucial role in delivering the essential products on which our communities rely. These include:

  • Chemicals for medicines and food packaging
  • Chlorine-based disinfectants for treating water
  • Energy products for generating electricity
  • Fertilizer for crops
  • Food products
  • Grain and corn for cattle feed
  • Municipal waste
  • Oil for heating and gasoline
  • Retail products (e.g. toilet paper and cleaning supplies)
  • Wheat for bread and pasta products

Simply put: if the trains grind to a halt, so does our economy. To keep the trains running, we need safe and well-maintained tracks - which is where our Track Solutions team comes in.

Using our modern fleet of RM80 undercutters, Balfour Beatty teammates are hard at work maintaining track ballast (the crushed stone material that helps keep a track in safe and optimal working condition). The team is servicing rail clients across the nation by cleaning and returning quality ballast to trackbeds across roughly 200-250 miles of track per year.

Fitted with BB/Zetica GPR inspection systems, our client inspection trains inspect over 30,000 miles of track a year. Railroads use the data from these GPR systems for budget planning and to identify which sections of track they will provide ballast undercut and/or track lift/shoulder ballast cleaning maintenance services. 

The Federal Railroad Administration also uses GPR data to ensure railroads are maintained to a satisfactory level of safety. Balfour Beatty’s Track Solutions team currently supports a variety of freight and passenger rail clients including Burlington Northern Santa (BNSF), Amtrak and the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railroad, Indiana Railroad, Northern Indiana Transportation Commuter District (NICTD) and Port Terminal Railroad Association (PTRA).

"Our Track Solutions team works tirelessly to do their part in ensuring the economy as a whole keeps moving forward," says Steve Atherton, divisional manager of Track Solutions. "Their dedication reflects Balfour Beatty’s commitment to deliver even during the most challenging of times."    
The safe, steady and cost-effective expertise of this team is an essential service that keeps our communities and nation on track.