Railroad begins night rail grinding project

Posted: Monday, November 13, 2000

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- The Alaska Railroad will begin grinding rails in Anchorage and the Matanuska Valley this week and railroad officials say people should not mistake the sparks for fires along the tracks.

Scott Banks, railroad public affairs officer, said the grinder uses an 800-foot machine with 96 computer-controlled grinding wheels to smooth out the rail.

''The machine creates a lot of sparks that light up the night sky,'' Banks said. ''We don't want people to be alarmed that there is a fire along the tracks.''

The machine will work the entire length of the railroad through between 6 p.m. and 7 a.m. through late December.

Rails were last ground in 1994.

Grinding is needed because the rail surface breaks down over time and gets rough. Rough track increases fuel consumption and results in more frequent equipment maintenance.

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