By Angela Hanna
The Chicago Transit Authority is getting new inspecting equipment after years of using the low tech approach of manually inspecting tracks to check for any safety hazards, according to The Chicago Tribune.
The CTA still uses old-fashioned methods by sending 32 inspectors still check all 224-miles of rail twice a week for old tracks and once a week for newer tracks to make sure that everything is visually aligned and safe for riders, the Tribune reports.
After the derailment of the packed Blue Line four years ago, the CTA finally decided to let technology help a little by bringing in lasers and a “brain box” yearly. The CTA officials have brought in a track strength vehicle under contract with the Holland Co. from suburb Crete to evaluate the track gauge, or the distance between rails, the Tribune reports.
The vehicle runs a strength test that is unlike anything that a track operator can do. The strength involves the vehicle applying a 3,000-pound force downward per wheel and 3,000 pounds outward against the rails, simulating the loaded gauge of a train, to test whether the rails stay securely in place or start to spread out, the Tribune reports.
The vehicle has a brain box, which is equipped with lasers, cameras and data-transcribing devices that feed a computer, the Tribune reports.