RailPros provides Utility Observation services, which focus on construction observation of parties installing utilities under railroad property using trenchless technology. Our team of on-site observers is tasked with protecting the railroad infrastructure while maintaining scheduled railroad operations during third-party utility installation or construction. The primary role of the observers is to “observe and report” on the contractor’s compliance with the construction documents, contractor activity/progress, and site conditions. Our clients trust us to know their specific standards and protect their interests. We work diligently to ensure each project is completed safely, efficiently, and on time.
RailPros is proud of the proactive approach of our Utility Construction Management Program (UCMP). Communication is key, and we begin discussions with the owner and contractor as soon as the utility agreement is issued by the Railroad. Early discussions focus on an explanation and education of costs and construction requirements. Next, we review work plans. This step is critical and has identified over 80% of compliance problems prior to commencement of construction activities. Issues found typically relate to contractors proposing changes to preapproved plans. Our goal is to work with the contractors to eliminate potential risks before any work begins on, under, or above the railroad. While we work diligently to eliminate field issues, our highly experienced field team is trained to observe and verify the utility construction and escalate any field issues for immediate correction. Safety is always the primary focus.
Work Plan Review Success
RailPros’ work plan review ensures the contractor’s planned activities meet or exceed the Railroad’s standards as documented in the approved agreement. The review focuses on the means, methods, material, shoring, and track monitoring plans.
As an example, RailPros recently reviewed a contractor’s work plan relating to an approved 34” pipeline crossing for a City. We discovered and addressed the following discrepancies to ensure compliance with our client’s standards:
- A change of material from a 34” steel pipeline crossing to a 44” steel pipeline crossing
- Change of method from Jack and Bore to a Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM)
- Alignment change including revised crossing angle and additional use of Railroad’s ROW
- Lack of Track Monitoring Plan
- Enforced continuous work within the client’s zone of influence of track structure
RailPros worked with the City, contractor, and Railroad within an expedited timeframe to ensure all items were corrected before starting construction, thus reducing risk to the Railroad’s operations and infrastructure.
Field-Issue Escalation in Action
RailPros’ field observation team members are on-site throughout the construction phase, to ensure the utility construction progresses safely and according to the approved plans.
Last year, a RailPros Observer arrived on-site at a location owned by our client but operated by a short line railroad. The Observer discovered the short line allowed a shored boring pit to be dug two feet from the track’s edge. The plans approved by the owning railroad specified the bore pit to be constructed 30.5 feet from the track centerline. RailPros worked with all involved parties to have the hole immediately backfilled and compacted to 95% compaction. The contractor then installed the bore pit at the approved location, thus reducing the risk of track settlement.
Gatekeepers of the Railroad
Today the role is more important than ever before. With the implementation of precision scheduled railroading, which is a railroad strategy that uses departure schedules and point-to-point delivery methods to achieve low operating ratios and to consolidate railroad networks, Class 1s are trying to maximize the dollar by sharpening efficiencies.