Railway track equipment is essential for safety, otherwise, in case of malfunction, it can cause collisions. In this context, the infrastructure manager has to ensure that the track equipment is installed according to the design, safety and operational requirements. Millions of such railway devices (of different types) are installed worldwide; however, the maintenance costs are very high. That is why, in order to reduce the maintenance activity and costs, it is necessary to implement new solutions supplied by the railway industry.
In case of scheduled or unscheduled malfunctions, the railway track equipment represents more than assets which allow trains to use alternative routes or to use a specific route in an opposite direction, ensuring a safe transport. However, 20-40% of the budget allocated for track maintenance is spent on inspection, maintenance and renewal of the track equipment.
These relatively high expenses (the maintenance cost of railway track equipment is almost equal to the maintenance cost of 300-500 m of single-track) are mainly due to the nature of the devices, whose maintenance costs more than that of a straight or curve railway track. These devices are equipped with special components which are exposed to static and dynamic forces (causing a high level of wear and tear), mobile components which require frequent inspections (e.g. greasing, to avoid a decrease in reliability). I addition, railway track equipment represents a potential risk because of these mobile components which, in case of malfunction, can cause serious accidents.
Whether it is a simple switch or a complex system of devices, the track equipment must fulfil the same safety requirements: guarantee the highest level of continuity for train running, reduce wear and tear and improve traffic flow.
In order to reduce maintenance, decrease costs and protect the environment, the solution would be to use a treatment based on chrome and nickel (applied at the friction points – this solution can be obtained by using a metal powder which acts instantly and is designed to protect, having a high content of nickel and chrome) and also to install a plain surface, equipped with steel reels which reduce mechanical stress and facilitate mobility. Being equipped with reels of four, three or two wheel, the surfaces are flexible during installation (vertical or horizontal), the reels are protected and they don’t require maintenance. An elastic material can be applied between the reels and the sleeper to protect the switch from any vibrations. In this context, in combination with non-corrosive elements, the plain surface with reels and the switch can last long periods of time without greasing, the closed switch uses a sliding system and the reduction in vibrations allows long-term operation without malfunctions. All these characteristics help reduce maintenance costs and improve efficiency.