Railroad Survey Works to Protect BNSF Engines

Posted on Wednesday, March 7th, 2018 by
In Surveying, tagged in

Over time, three, parallel tracks at the Burlington Northern Santa Fe’s (BNSF) Argentine Yard in Kansas City, Kansas had been sinking. The rails run through a large, on-site building where fluid changes are performed on the trains. As engines pulled in for maintenance, the trains were beginning to bottom out on two of the three rails.

To determine the degree to which the tracks had settled, Affinis was asked to perform a topographic survey on the northern one. With the results, designers could develop a plan to restore the area to more operable conditions.


Adding complexity to the project, the other two tracks were in use while the surveys were taking place. We worked closely with BNSF’s flagman, or safety lookout, to give our co-workers enough clearance to conduct the assessment. Drawing on our team’s safety certification, we established control inside the building, while staying out of the railroad workers’ activities. We were able to do both by understanding BNSF’s expectations and operating procedures upfront.

While performing a topographic survey may vary from site to site, railroads offer unique challenges. The primary difference is the more dangerous conditions. The other is the level of activity that may be happening on or next to the site. Working hand-in-hand with the flagman and attending safety training are two ways we are able to address these concerns for every project. In fact, after completing the survey for the northern track, Affinis was asked to do the southern one as well.

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