Lots of rugged equipment was needed as fast as possible after a landslide spread 500,000 tons of dirt, rocks and trees across a four-lane highway and onto three Norfolk Southern railway tracks. The debris created a mound 30 feet high and 500 feet wide, closing the primary rail artery connecting Chicago and New York City. Also affected were the 22,000 vehicles that use Rt. 65 each day to access Pittsburgh. The surprise landslide, caused by explosions used to clear a hilltop commercial development, created a major headache for Norfolk Southern, which had to re-route some 70 trains a day. To restore service, the railway needed productive equipment that could get to the site, clean the tracks and re-open the route - all very quickly.
Benefitting from the combined mobility advantages of an all-terrain wheeled undercarriage and a rail gear, Gradall XL 3300 railroad maintenance machine was able to be on site quickly. Owned by Norfolk Southern, the Gradall machine can travel around 22 mph on rails, and it did not need the highway to be re-opened to access the tracks. In fact, the Gradall machine was able to re-open the tracks for train travel long before automotive traffic was restored on the adjacent highway. Using an excavating bucket and a ditching bucket, and the well-known Gradall tilting, telescoping boom movement, operator George Hoffer Jr. was able to clear dirt and rocks from between the rails as well as alongside the tracks. "This machine does everything," said Hoffer, a Gradall machine operator for the railroad for the past three years. In fact, Norfolk Southern also uses the Gradall machines to build and repair right-of-ways, clear vegetation and replace rails.
For more information about Gradall excavators call (800) 445-4752.