ARM awarded MBTA optical rail measurement contract

June 30, 2021
The company will collect rail measurement data across MBTA’s Green, Red, Orange and Blue Lines.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) has awarded Advanced Rail Management, Corp. (ARM), a four-year contract with two option years for optical rail measurement services. The contract requires semi-annual testing on the Green Line and annual tests of the Red, Orange and Blue Lines.

MBTA has a relationship with ARM going back to 2002 when MBTA hired the company as part of a consortium of consultants brought in to address issues related to the introduction of new Green Line vehicles on the route. ARM aided MBTA in implementing a rail grinding program to correct unsafe rail wear patters and then install a set of rail profiles designed by ARM.

For the optical rail measurement services contract, ARM will collect 173 track miles of data per year including rail profile, vertical, gauge-face and combined wear, percentage of head loss, gauge and field lip, track gauge, crosslevel, cant angle and gauge-face angle data.

ARM says data will be captured at six-inch intervals on the Green Line and 12-inch intervals on the other lines — the tightest data-collection-interval requirements in North America. The locations of track features such as switches, lubricators, passenger platforms, tunnels, bridges, as well as the beginning and end of each curve will be identified and shown on reports, according to the MBTA chain-marker system.

ARM is aware of the project’s challenges, which include seven percent grades and double-restrained, 75-foot radius curves. The company points to the precise gauge-face angle data required on the Green Line as one of the more challenging aspects of the data collection. The company says the line requires additional scrutiny and bi-annual testing due to the short (3/4-inch) wheel flange on the Green Line cars.

“We developed a custom algorithm to more precisely capture gauge-face angle measurements,” said ARM President Gordon Bachinsky. “This allows the MBTA to monitor change to the gauge-face angle between measurements and to develop wear trends over time.”

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.