A tie crane or tie handler, is a piece of rail transport maintenance of way equipment used to move and handle the railroad ties (sleepers) used in rail tracks using track relaying. The machines are used as an alternative to the manual labour once used.
Rail transport is a means of transferring of passengers and goods on wheeled vehicles running on rails, also known as tracks. It is also commonly referred to as train transport. In contrast to road transport, where vehicles run on a prepared flat surface, rail vehicles are directionally guided by the tracks on which they run. Tracks usually consist of steel rails, installed on ties (sleepers) and ballast, on which the rolling stock, usually fitted with metal wheels, moves. Other variations are also possible, such as slab track, where the rails are fastened to a concrete foundation resting on a prepared subsurface.
A railroad tie or crosstie or railway sleeper is a rectangular support for the rails in railroad tracks. Generally laid perpendicular to the rails, ties transfer loads to the track ballast and subgrade, hold the rails upright and keep them spaced to the correct gauge.
Mounted on a lightweight chassis with rail wheels, the operators cab and lifting arm pivot on a base, enabling 360 degree rotation. The end of the lifting arm has a gripper for picking up sleepers, and a movable wrist to allow the tie to be positioned. Often a small trolley is connected to the tie crane by a drawbar, for either storage of new sleepers to be placed into the track, or for taking away old sleepers that have been removed.
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A crane is a type of machine, generally equipped with a hoist rope, wire ropes or chains, and sheaves, that can be used both to lift and lower materials and to move them horizontally. It is mainly used for lifting heavy things and transporting them to other places. The device uses one or more simple machines to create mechanical advantage and thus move loads beyond the normal capability of a human. Cranes are commonly employed in the transport industry for the loading and unloading of freight, in the construction industry for the movement of materials, and in the manufacturing industry for the assembling of heavy equipment.
The track on a railway or railroad, also known as the permanent way, is the structure consisting of the rails, fasteners, railroad ties and ballast, plus the underlying subgrade. It enables trains to move by providing a dependable surface for their wheels to roll upon. For clarity it is often referred to as railway track or railroad track. Tracks where electric trains or electric trams run are equipped with an electrification system such as an overhead electrical power line or an additional electrified rail.
The permanent way is the elements of railway lines: generally the pairs of rails typically laid on the sleepers embedded in ballast, intended to carry the ordinary trains of a railway. It is described as permanent way because in the earlier days of railway construction, contractors often laid a temporary track to transport spoil and materials about the site; when this work was substantially completed, the temporary track was taken up and the permanent way installed.
A derailment occurs when a vehicle such as a train runs off its rails. This does not necessarily mean that it leaves its track. Although many derailments are minor, all result in temporary disruption of the proper operation of the railway system, and they are potentially seriously hazardous to human health and safety. Usually, the derailment of a train can be caused by a collision with another object, an operational error, the mechanical failure of tracks, such as broken rails, or the mechanical failure of the wheels. In emergency situations, deliberate derailment with derails or catch points is sometimes used to prevent a more serious accident.
A railroad crane is a type of crane used on a railroad for one of three primary purposes: freight handling in goods yards, permanent way (PW) maintenance, and accident recovery work. Although the design differs according to the type of work, the basic configuration is similar in all cases: a rotating crane body is mounted on a sturdy chassis fitted with flanged wheels. The body supports the jib and provides all the lifting and operating mechanisms; on larger cranes, an operator's cabin is usually provided. The chassis is fitted with buffing (UK) and/or coupling gear to allow the crane to be moved by a locomotive, although many are also self-propelled to allow limited movement about a work site.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to rail transport:
A railroad plough is a rail vehicle which supports an immensely strong, hook-shaped plough. It is used for destruction of sleepers in warfare, as part of a scorched-earth policy, so that the track becomes unusable for the enemy.
A gantry crane is a crane built atop a gantry, which is a structure used to straddle an object or workspace. They can range from enormous "full" gantry cranes, capable of lifting some of the heaviest loads in the world, to small shop cranes, used for tasks such as lifting automobile engines out of vehicles. They are also called portal cranes, the "portal" being the empty space straddled by the gantry.
LGV construction is the process by which the land on which TGV trains are to run is prepared for their use, involving carving the trackbed and laying the track. It is similar to the building of standard railway lines, but there are differences. In particular, construction process is more precise in order for the track to be suitable for regular use at 300 km/h (186 mph). The quality of construction was put to the test in particular during the TGV world speed record runs on the LGV Atlantique; the track was used at over 500 km/h (310 mph) without suffering significant damage. This contrasts with previous French world rail speed record attempts which resulted in severe deformation of the track.
Tramway track is used on tramways or light rail operations. Grooved rails are often used to provide a protective flangeway in the trackwork in city streets. Like standard rail tracks, tram tracks consist of two parallel steel rails.
A tamping machine or ballast tamper is a machine used to pack the track ballast under railway tracks to make the tracks more durable. Prior to the introduction of mechanical tampers, this task was done by manual labour with the help of beaters. As well as being faster, more accurate, more efficient and less labour-intensive, tamping machines are essential for the use of concrete sleepers since they are too heavy to be lifted by hand. Whilst also available as a plain tamper with no lifting or lining function this article will focus on the multi function machines.
A concrete sleeper or concrete tie is a type of railway sleeper or railroad tie made out of steel reinforced concrete.
A rail fastening system is a means of fixing rails to railroad ties or sleepers. The terms rail anchors, tie plates, chairs and track fasteners are used to refer to parts or all of a rail fastening system. Various types of fastening have been used over the years.
Baulk road is the name given to a type of railway track or 'rail road' that is formed using rails carried on continuous timber bearings, as opposed to the more familiar 'cross-sleeper' track that uses closely spaced sleepers or ties to give intermittent support to stronger rails.
Ladder track is a type of railway track in which the track is laid on longitudinal supports with transverse connectors holding the two rails at the correct gauge distance. Modern ladder track can be considered a development of baulk road, which supported rails on longitudinal wooden sleepers. Synonyms include longitudinal beam track.
A stoneblower is a railway track maintenance machine that automatically lifts and packs the sleepers with small grade ballast, which is blown under the sleepers to level the track. An alternative to the use of a ballast tamper, the totally self-contained machine levels track without the use of a large gang of workmen.
A track renewal train is a work train that consists of many units of machinery and materials required for track renewal projects.
A ballastless track or slab track is a type of railway track infrastructure in which the traditional elastic combination of ties/sleepers and ballast is replaced by a rigid construction of concrete or asphalt.