Methods of Track Maintenance
Modern methods of track
maintenance employ track machines and other modern track equipment for the
maintenance of tracks as opposed to the traditional methods of manual packing.
The methods used generally are the following.
maintenance of track with the help of track machines
shovel packing (MSP)
track maintenance (DTM), which is maintenance based on need, particularly if
DTM is done by MSP.
In these methods, the emphasis is
not only on modern maintenance techniques but also on the identification and
rectification of defects, the implementation of proper quality control in a
systematic manner, and the use of proper tools and equipment.
For over a century, tracks on Indian Railways have been
maintained by the method of 'beater packing' using manual labour and the
performance has been excellent. It is now being felt that this method of manual
maintenance, which has stood the test of time, may require a revision in view
of all the recent technological and social advancements. The European Railways,
which was also in a similar position a few decades ago, has already switched
over to modern methods of maintenance to suit the requirements of the modern
track. Such a system of maintenance of track has given the men working on the
permanent way a better social status, as it requires lesser physical strength
and higher mechanical skill on their part. The system has also enabled them to
maintain the modern track more economically and effectively in order to cater
to the requirements of higher speeds and heavier axle loads. There is no doubt
that the mechanized maintenance of track has become a technical necessity for
the modern track structure with its long welded rails and concrete sleepers. In
spite of changes in our socio-technical background and the increasing emphasis
on the modernization of the track to allow for higher speeds the following
question arises: Is there really a need for the complete mechanization of the process
of track maintenance, particularly when India has such a large labour force and
is faced with a serious problem of unemployment?