For more than 30 years the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) Automated Track Inspection Program (ATIP) has provided accurate, track geometry data to assess compliance with the Federal Track Safety Standards. Priorities for ATIP inspections include passenger, major Hazardous Material (HAZMAT) and Strategic Rail Corridor (STRACNET) routes, and other track, which present a safety concern to the FRA. Currently, FRA geometry cars survey (inspect) approximately 30,000 miles of track on average each year. With the addition of two new Track Geometry cars, DOTX 219 and DOTX 220, the agency goal is to survey 100,000 miles of track each year. The FRA Office of R&D’s research cars, DOTX 216 and DOTX 218 (GRMS), are also utilized as part of the Office of Safety National Safety Program Plan to reach this goal.
The track data collected by ATIP is used by FRA, railroad inspectors and railroads to assist and assure track safety is being maintained by setting priorities for their respective compliance activities. Also, the data is used by FRA to assess track safety trends within the industry. Immediately following ATIP track surveys, the railroads use the data to help locate and correct exceptions found. Often railroads use the ATIP data as a quality assurance check on their track inspection and maintenance programs.
FRA is committed to the continuous improvement of ATIP technology in order to assure the track condition data collected is the best available and to facilitate the dissemination and use of the data. ATIP makes every effort to achieve precision, accuracy, repeatability, and reproducibility, or the acronym PARR. The ATIP inspection systems are indeed “mobile measurement laboratories.”
Each year ATIP detects and helps remediate approximately 10,000 verifiable track safety defects. FRA believes ATIP provides a beneficial service and helps railroads reduce the number of geometry caused derailments. FRA is committed to the continuous improvement of ATIP so that we meet our track safety goals both now and into the future. Our efforts will focus on improving data quality, enhancing data value and facilitating data usage, and will be closely coordinated with FRA shareholders who are the primary consumers of the ATIP data.