For rail yards and industrial tracks, what’s the most important track structure components — ON A BUDGET PLAN? (Jim Blaze)

Jim Blaze


Jim Blaze recommends you employ a STEADY STATE BLENDED MAINTENANCE APPROACH each year.

With the above in mind, the most efficient combination of economics of budgeting and value plus maintenance of such local track conditions and components are likely to be these top three Jim Blaze favorite tips.


☑️ Keep BALLAST depth and conditions in good to very good condition.


  • Quality stone is cheap.
  • Supports rails and ties — less bending stress. 
  • Repeat — stone is relatively cheap.  Add some depth.


☑️ Attention and repair to LOOSE bolts and fasteners.


  • Keeps track specs “tight.”
  • Lowers the stress forces on the rails.


☑️ Keep switch points and turnouts in a good state of repair.


  • Reduces risk of derailment in these areas.


☑️☑️☑️   Obviously, there are other items not listed that still require attention.   Like your track’s rail joint and rail bar areas. Plus, your rail surface flaws. And occasional internal flaw ultrasonic inspection.


Always remember, that overall geometry and train speed management have to be monitored and given your executive “touch”.




Remember: They are MINIMUM SPECS.

DO NOT base your maintenance and repairs on the use of regulatory minimums.

Give your track forces a bit of breathing room “ABOVE” the regulatory FRA minimum specs.


Always check with your qualified track engineers rather than relying on my answer.  Because conditions will vary as well as solutions based on soil, climate, wet conditions, and how well your continuing maintenance and repairs have been over the years.