Railway Track Maintenance and Cleaning

Ensuring Optimal Performance

Railway tracks are crucial infrastructure elements that need regular maintenance to ensure safety, efficiency, and longevity. Over time, various factors such as weather conditions, usage, and external contaminants like leaves can affect the quality of the tracks, necessitating proactive maintenance measures.


This page provides a comprehensive guide on railway track maintenance and cleaning practices essential for safe and efficient rail transport. Here, you will learn about the importance of track maintenance, various maintenance methods, the tools used, and the role of ConSus® water jet cleaning technology.
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  1. Preventive Maintenance: Regular inspections and maintenance activities to prevent potential issues.
  2. Corrective Maintenance: Addressing specific issues identified during inspections or continuous monitoring.
  3. Predictive Maintenance: Using data analysis and condition monitoring to predict maintenance needs and optimize schedules.
  4. Emergency Maintenance: Immediate repairs in response to unforeseen failures or safety concerns.
Effective track maintenance is crucial for:
  • Safety: Preventing accidents and ensuring reliable operations.
  • Operational Efficiency: Minimizing disruptions and optimizing train schedules.
  • Cost Management: Reducing long-term repair costs through proactive problem-solving.
Various specialized tools and equipment are used for track maintenance, including:
  • Rail Grinding Machines: Smoothing out unevenness and extending the life of rails.
  • Tamping Machines: Ensuring proper alignment and stability of tracks.
  • Welding Equipment: Repairing and connecting rail sections.
  • Track Inspection Devices: Including ultrasound testers and thermal imaging cameras for defect detection.

Water Jet Technology: The Revolution in Rail Cleaning for Safer Railway Traffic

The ConSus® water jet technology is set to revolutionize rail cleaning and enhance rail safety by providing the most effective method for removing contaminants and increasing adhesion between the wheel and the rail.
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ConSus® Water Jet Cleaning Technology

The water jet cleaning technology from ConSus plays a crucial role in effectively removing deposits and contaminants from railway tracks. By using high-pressure water jets with abrasive particles, it optimizes the friction on the rail heads, which is essential for the safety and performance of rail transport.

Before / After

After cleaning with Water Jet Technology

Comparison of Laser and Water Jet Technologies in Rail Cleaning

  1. Highest Effectiveness: Water jet technology offers the best performance in increasing the friction coefficient and reducing contamination. It can effectively remove all types of contaminants.
  2. Versatility: Unlike laser technology, which is less effective on oily contaminants, water jet technology can handle a wide range of contaminants, including heavy oils and organic materials, effectively.
  3. Safety: The risks associated with high-pressure water are lower compared to the potential hazards of laser beams. There is no risk of eye damage or skin burns, making handling safer.
  4. Proven Technology: Water jet technology is well-established and widely used. The necessary equipment and procedures for maintenance and operation are mature and reliable.
  5. Simple Safety Measures: While laser usage requires stringent safety precautions, the safety measures for water jet technology are easier to implement and do not require highly specialized protective measures. Measures like protective clothing and barriers are generally sufficient.
  6. Extensive Experience: Since water jet technology has been in use for a long time, there is extensive experience and knowledge about its optimal application and maintenance, further increasing efficiency and reliability.
Overall, water jet technology offers significant advantages over laser technology in terms of effectiveness, safety, and proven applications, despite the logistical challenges posed by high water consumption.
The graphic illustrates the differences between laser and water jet technology for rail cleaning. The strengths of the water jet are clearly visible.
  • Operation: Water Jet Technology scored higher due to its simplicity and well-established operation procedures.
  • Effectiveness: Water Jet Technology is significantly more effective in increasing friction coefficient and reducing contamination.
  • Maintenance: Both technologies require regular maintenance, but Water Jet Technology has a slight edge due to its maturity and established procedures.
  • Safety: Water Jet Technology is safer, with simpler safety measures compared to the stringent requirements for Laser Technology.
  • Logistics: Both technologies have logistical challenges
Water jet technology in use on a railroad line in the United Kingdom.

Comparison of Laser and Water Jet Technologies in Rail Cleaning

Laser Technology:

  • Operation: Pulsed Laser Ablation uses infrared lasers to vaporize contaminants and turn them into dust. A plasma plume is generated, which ablates the contamination.
  • Effectiveness: Laser technology offers moderate effectiveness. It shows good results on natural contaminants but is less efficient on oily contaminants.
  • Maintenance: Requires regular inspections and calibrations. Maintenance can be performed both on-site and in depots, but specialized equipment and expertise are needed.
  • Safety: Class 4 lasers require extensive safety measures to prevent eye damage and skin burns.
  • Logistics: The modular design allows flexible installations, but the technology is still in the optimization phase to achieve higher efficiency and lower energy consumption.

Water Jet Technology:

  • Operation: High-pressure water jet (300-750 bar) that removes contaminants from the rail head at speeds of up to 120 km/h. The water jet cleans the rail head and ensures a direct contact surface between the wheel and the rail.
  • Effectiveness: Water jet technology is the most effective in increasing the friction coefficient and reducing contamination. It works effectively on all types of contaminants, including oil, leaves, and general rail contaminants.
  • Maintenance: Regular inspections and maintenance are necessary, but they are well-established and can be efficiently performed.
  • Safety: Water consumption is low compared to traditional water jet cleaning methods, approximately one-tenth of the usual amount. The ConSus® technology is mature and can be operated with existing machines and infrastructure.

Case Study: Effectiveness of ConSus® Technology

Learn more about our successful application of ConSus water jet cleaning technology in a detailed case study. This study includes the simulation of leaf deposits on rails, friction measurement with the Rivelin Rail tribometer, and quantitative results after applying our cleaning system. Visit our Case Studies page to learn more.

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Do you have any questions?

For more information on our railway track maintenance services or ConSus® water jet cleaning technology, please contact us.


Surface Cleaning of Railway Tracks

Innovative water jet surface treatment effectively removes leaves and other contaminants from railway tracks. This increases friction and thus contributes to the safety of railway operations. Learn more about our test results