Rail Maintenance Best Practices

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Rail Maintenance Best Practices

Identifying the many opportunities to improve your rail maintenance best practices come from decades of experience. Operations managers within rail maintenance & repair operations understand the importance of an efficient system including multiple heavy duty rail material handling machines. The processes required to maintain rail cars and locomotives is one that begins in the design specifications of the facility itself.

Building for the custom needs of individual railway companies is a massive undertaking. Not only do rail cars vary in design and weight, the tracks themselves can vary in width from country to country. Understanding the specific details down to the tracks is something a rail maintenance facility should look for in a design/build firm when considering new or updated facility designs. Whether you’re a light rail transit, monorail, or heavy rail, the same basic rail maintenance best practices apply.

There are a number of important and essential material handling solutions necessary to successfully run a rail maintenance operation.  These will be given further descriptions below and include Drop tables, Split Rail Systems, Portable Electric Jacks, Transfer Tables, Rail turntables, Self-propelled personnel lifts, Paint booth personnel lifts, Traversing Gantries, and Personnel Lifts. Each custom designed piece of equipment is built to the customer’s stringent manufacturing processes with robust materials and the understanding that rail maintenance equipment operates under harsh conditions lifting and moving heavy product.

Safety is a must which should be built into the material handling equipment including sensors, limit switches, fall-safe precautions, audible alarms and visible warning lights. Keeping people and product safe adds to the efficiency when maintaining rail vehicles.

Drop Tables: Custom-designed drop tables offer easy removal of rail wheel sets, traction motors/combos and full trucks/bogies of freight cars, transit vehicles and locomotives. Drop tables can come in standard designs but Handling Specialty offers the ability to customize your drop tables, because we understand that not every MRO set up is going to be the same.

drop table for rail

Split Rail Systems: Freight car wheel sets can easily be exchanged due to their simple removal process from their truck. Removal of wheelsets from transit and LRT vehicles depends on the complexity of the removal process per transit vehicle's manufacturers design. Therefore, customizing your split rail equipment is an important step to efficient design. Split rail systems require the use of a raised rail track section for the removal procedure. Handling Specialty’s battery-powered lifting carts (hydraulic or screw lift) travel between the raised rails to pre-set multiple rail opening areas along the track for precise positioning every time.

Portable Electric Jacks: Jacks are used to raise rail cars and locomotives to allow technicians safe and ergonomic access to the underside. Reliability has been carefully engineered into every Handling Specialty Portable Rail Electric Jack. Handling Specialty’s outstanding design and top quality of construction have provided customers with decades of dependable service. This tradition has established the Handling Jacks as the foremost desired portable electric jack supplier around the world.

Transfer Tables: Transfer tables are an invaluable tool for maintaining traffic flow between tracks in your car repair or maintenance shop. A standard transfer table requires a pit several feet deep, but a custom transfer table can be design/built without the pit. This design still permits normal traffic flow on a track even when the transfer table is busy on another track.

Rail Turntables: Handling Specialty engineers, fabricates and installs high-quality Locomotive and Railway Turntables for the rail market. Turntables are used for rotating wheel sets or trucks (bogies) for maintenance activities. These tables are usually designed with a large capacity center slewing bearing to withstand the cantilever forces and make installation easier.

 rail turn tables

Paint booth personnel lifts: Custom designed and built to position technicians inside a paint booth, paint booth gantry systems come in pairs. Each carriage ergonomically and safely positions technicians around the railcar bodies. Lift capacity per carriage is 1000 lbs and can travel horizontally, vertically and extend outward for precise positioning.


Traversing Gantries: Custom rail gantries assist technicians in ergonomically and efficiently accessing parts of the locomotive or rail car to perform MRO duties. These gantries straddle the rail cars on maintenance tracks and are fitted with safety rails and collapsible stair cases for safe access to the rooftops.  Nosecone Gantries wok in much the same way positioning personnel at the front of the locomotive for MRO activities.

 Rail gantries

Rail Personnel Lift: Custom personnel platforms for rail operations are perfect for MRO activities. Engineered to operate specifically for your rail maintenance needs, personnel lifts replace antiquated technologies increasing efficiency and safety.


Many more application specific rail material handling equipment should also be considered when building or reimagining your Rail MRO facility such as rail car hoists and body support systems, truck bogie hoists, rotisseries and custom maintenance work stations. When prospecting a manufacturer of rail MRO systems, be sure to ask about every option and look for a company who offers a turnkey material handling solution.

Talk to Handling Specialty’s experienced technical sales team now to discuss your needs.