Freight Railway Track Maintenance Cost Model

Track maintenance is critically important to railway performance and safety. In 2008, Class I railroads spent $7.52 billion on track maintenance. For internal purposes, freight railroads use proprietary models to predict track deterioration and maintenance for specific segments. However, many of the publicly available studies are outdated at a time when increased emphasis is being placed on railway investments from a multimodal perspective. For example, the equated mileage factors published by the American Railway Engineering & Maintenance of Way Association (AREMA, 2008). Although useful the AREMA factors were initially published in 1994. Another publicly-available model is the Speed Factored Gross Tonnage model (SFGT) which has been used in STB cases. However, it was originally developed in 1975. Similarly, the widely used TOPS model was originally developed in 1976. have been an important source of track cost factors. The equated factors allow planners to quickly compare the expected maintenance costs of tracks of different designs (e.g., rail weights), configurations (e.g., number of tracks), and annual densities (e.g., gross tons) under different traffic conditions (e.g., axle loads and unit trains per day). Other studies present the results of track models, but do not show the actual functions or underlying equations, making them unsuitable for publicly-funded projects where the methods must be transparent. The essential purpose of this project is to provide more information about the relative importance of track maintenance cost factors and a publicly available model which would have applicability in sketch planning and in comparing the maintenance costs of various types of track with different traffic conditions.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $118388
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Managing Organizations:

    Mountain-Plains Consortium

    North Dakota State University
    P.O. Box 6050, Department 2880
    Fargo, ND  United States  58108-6050
  • Project Managers:

    Kline, Robin

  • Performing Organizations:

    Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute

    1320 Albrecht Blvd.
    Fargo, ND  United States  58102
  • Principal Investigators:

    Tolliver, Denver

    Benson, Doug

    Lu, Pan

  • Start Date: 20100701
  • Expected Completion Date: 20161231
  • Actual Completion Date: 20181008
  • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers Program
  • Source Data: MPC-357

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01466129
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Mountain-Plains Consortium
  • Contract Numbers: DTRT07-G-0008
  • Files: UTC, RiP, USDOT
  • Created Date: Jan 3 2013 3:11PM