U.S.: Applying the ‘Old-School Philosophy’ of ‘Free Outages’

By William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief, Railway Age Magazine; April 7, 2020

Soon after the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S., a former passenger railroad chief engineer approached Railway Age with ideas for performing much-needed trackwork during a time when traffic is lighter than normal, and track time—difficult to schedule and manage under “normal” circumstances—is more readily available.

Preferring to remain anonymous (why, I don’t quite know), he describes himself as having “40 years’ experience and worn out work boots from kicking ballast, with a high regard for the value of every minute of track time and the reverence for passenger and train crew safety.” His ideas would be applicable specifically to the Northeast Corridor Hudson Tunnel repairs, but could possibly be applied to just about any high-traffic-density passenger rail corridor. He expressed concern about a loss of many people with experience, as evidenced by operating on “modified schedules” during periods of adverse weather, and now the pandemic, and its drastic effects on ridership.

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