christopher consultants, ltd.

CSX Rail Surveys – Front Royal, Virginia

Rail systems are highly complicated, especially those that include bridges and aerial structures. At high speeds, a train experiences dynamic changes that require the design and construction team to be aware of minimum distances to surrounding structures. In one such case, christopher was asked to provide 3D capture and modeling services for several bridge overpasses above active rail tracks. The goal was to develop a model to analyze the envelope of the train as it passed under each bridge at operating speed.

Vertical curves and super elevated curves are commonplace in rail tracks. While not apparently visible to the naked eye, these transitions are important in the analysis of the train envelope. With a 3D scanner, these transitions can be seen more clearly due to the extensive number of points collected along the length of each rail. Without being in the rail corridor, the field team utilizing the 3D scanner was able to capture the track, the bridge under-structure along with other pertinent information for the development of the models.  While complex workflows and work drawings were for this solution, the deliverable provided was nothing more than a cross section view of a typical train section and the envelope created as it passed at speed under the bridge. Taking complex survey data and putting it into a simple, easy to read format is key to the success of utilizing 3D scanning.