Track Laying Machines for Railway Construction and Maintenance
Top Track Laying Machines for Railway Construction and Maintenance

The construction and maintenance of railway tracks require specialized machinery to lay and service the rails efficiently. Track laying machines are essential for installing new railroad tracks and repairing and replacing existing ones. These powerful machines boost productivity and enable crews to meet tight construction timelines when building new railways or carrying out maintenance work.

Track laying machines are available in different configurations for various applications. New track construction requires heavier, more robust machines. Maintenance work on existing tracks may utilize lighter machines better suited for replacing single rails or small sections. The type used depends on the project's scale and the railway infrastructure's requirements. Each track laying machine serves a unique purpose in constructing and servicing railroad tracks.

With the growing demand for railway transportation worldwide, innovations in track-laying machinery are focused on increasing mobility, efficiency, and automation. The newest models are faster, more versatile, and safer to operate. They enable crews to lay track over long distances more quickly. Some advanced machines can now replace most manual tasks with automated processes.

The future for track laying machinery appears bright, with its capabilities expanding with global railway infrastructure needs. This article will explore today's top track laying machines and their applications in railway construction and maintenance.


What is the track laying?

What is the track laying

Track laying is the fundamental process of constructing the railroad by installing sleepers, rails, and ballast to build the permanent way. It is essential to new railway construction and maintenance, rehabilitation, and expansion of existing rail lines.

The first step is preparing the track bed on which the railway track will be laid. This involves grading, levelling, and compacting the subsurface over which the track will run. Once the track bed is ready, sleepers are brought in and spaced evenly apart. Sleepers, also known as railroad ties, are the transverse beams that provide the immediate foundation for the rails. They maintain the proper gauge (spacing) between the rails and hold them at the correct elevation above the track bed.

Using specialized rail handling equipment, the rails are lifted and placed on the sleepers in the required alignment. The two rails of the track are spiked or clipped to the sleepers to hold them in place. Anchoring the rails solidly to the sleepers is crucial for keeping the track in the proper position as trains pass over it.

Ballast is the layer of crushed rock or gravel packed around and underneath the sleepers for drainage and weight bearing. Ballast machines are used to distribute and compact the ballast for maximum stability. The final steps are aligning the track laterally and vertically and performing a thorough tamping to stabilize the newly laid track further. Ongoing maintenance requires replacing worn sleepers and rails and re-levelling and re-tamping areas that have settled over time.

Both manual laborers perform track laying and associated work and increasingly automated machines designed specifically for railway construction and maintenance tasks. The combination of skill and advanced technology produces high quality, long-lasting rail lines.

Track laying process

The process of track laying, also known as track renewal, involves sequentially replacing old and worn railway tracks with brand-new ones. It is carried out by specialized machines combined into a track renewal train. As this train moves down the line, it completely renews the track behind it in an efficient, continuous operation.

The first stage is removing the old wooden or concrete sleepers directly underneath the rails. Clip-releasing devices mounted on the train detach the rails from the old sleepers. The rails are lifted and shifted sideways while the old sleepers are pulled out from the ballast bed and transported via conveyor to storage cars at the rear. With the sleepers gone, the ballast is cleared and levelled in preparation for new sleeper insertion. Some machines even digitally scan the geometry of the old track first so the new one can be laid to match the exact specifications.

Fresh concrete sleepers are delivered alongside the train. Gantry cranes running along the length of the train pick up the new sleepers and systematically place them onto the prepared ballast bed at the proper spacing. Once all the sleepers are laid, the new rails that have been heated to a predefined temperature are shifted from the sides of the train into the final position. They are then swiftly clipped or spiked to the sleepers for anchoring. The old rails may be temporarily laid in the center or at the shoulder before being removed by other equipment.

With the new permanent way, attention turns to the ballast. The conveyor transports excess ballast cast aside to a screening unit, which separates clean rock for reuse from fouled ballast to be discarded. To stabilize the track, a ballast tamping machine packs the fresh aggregate underneath and around the new sleepers and rails. Finally, a ballast regulator shapes and grades the profile, leaving behind a smooth, even track bed.

Some track renewal trains have integrated ballast handling capabilities so that the old ballast is directly excavated and the new aggregate is distributed in a single pass. This eliminates the need for subsequent tamping and regulating by separate ballast machinery. The fully renewed track is inspected before being handed back over for normal operations.

By consolidating the demanding track renewal process onto a single unified machine, the work is accomplished more efficiently than by a crew with individual machines. Automation and integration minimize manual labor while producing a high-quality, long-lasting track with minimal disruption to rail traffic.

Why is track renewal or track laying necessary?

Over time, the components that make up railway tracks deteriorate from the constant impact and vibration of passing trains. The steel rails develop cracks, wear down, and can break. The sleepers underneath also crack and split. Ballast becomes fouled and unable to drain water properly. If not addressed, this degradation of the track components can lead to rail failures, slower train speeds, and unsafe conditions. Therefore, regular renewal and replacement of worn track parts is essential.

They are performing proper track maintenance which used to be an extremely labor-intensive job. However, using today's powerful track renewal trains, old rails and sleepers can be swiftly replaced continuously. These automated machines boost productivity and safety. They remove the old materials, precisely lay new track, and re-profile the ballast in a single pass. Carrying out routine track renewal ensures that train traffic can continue operating at optimal speeds, loads, and safety on well-maintained rails. The efficiency of modern machinery makes comprehensive track renewal feasible and economical.

What are the Track Laying Machines?

What are the Track Laying Machines

Track laying machines are essential equipment used in constructing and maintaining railroad tracks. They mechanize and streamline one of the most demanding aspects of building rail infrastructure – installing the sleepers and rails that make up the permanent way. These machines boost productivity, efficiency and safety when laying down new railroad tracks or repairing and replacing worn-out tracks. They enable contractors to meet tight construction schedules and minimize disruptions when upgrading busy corridors.

Track laying machinery performs several core functions. They are equipped with front attachments to rip up and remove old ballast, sleepers and rails from the track bed. Robust conveyor systems transport the old materials away for disposal or recycling. Robust attachments then grade and level the track bed subsurface to prepare an optimal foundation for the new track components.

Machines specialized for sleeper laying pick up new concrete or wood ties/sleepers from stockpiled reserves and place them in sequenced positions on the prepared ballast bed. Sophisticated models maintain the precise longitudinal and lateral spacing between sleepers automatically. This precision ensures the track gauge will conform to specifications.

Other machines lift long lengths of steel rail off the back of material transport trucks using overhead lifting beams. These rails may weigh hundreds of pounds per yard. The track layers neatly deposit them onto the sleepers in the required alignment. Some models have multiple operator cabs for visibility. Rail gripping and positioning arms make fine adjustments to properly seat the rails before clamping them down securely.

Finally, integrated tamping, stabilization and ballast regulating units complete the track structure by packing aggregate under and around the newly laid track. This provides firm support and drainage for the permanent way before hand-off for regular service. With track-laying machinery, contractors can upgrade existing lines or build new high-speed railways more efficiently than relying solely on manual labor. The automation and integration of these machines are continuously improving to optimize the track construction process further.

Top Track Laying Machines: ADOR's products

Top Track Laying Machines ADOR's products

ADOR offers advanced track-laying machinery from La Falco to optimize the installation or replacement of railway tracks and switches. Two of their premier models are the PLF 20 Sleeper Gantry and the F40TR/T30 Track Laying Gantries.

The PLF 20 Sleeper Gantry travels along special wagons equipped with side rails. It utilizes an overhead arm structure to transfer new concrete sleepers from transport wagons to the exact positions required on the track bed. After removing the old wooden or concrete sleepers, PLF 20 swiftly places the new ones at the proper gauge spacing in sequence. This gantry can cover 8 wagons in under a minute thanks to its high-performance 147 kW diesel engine.

Weighing 16,500 kg, the PLF 20 has a sleeper lifting capacity of 8,000 kg. Its trolleys have independent hydraulic control circuits and powered motorized wheel units. Two operators ride onboard the machine for optimal visibility and control of the automated sleeper laying process. This boosts worksite safety and productivity when renewing ballast, sleepers and rails.

ADOR provides the F40TR and T30 Track Laying Gantries for installing entire rail sections. These machines handle longitudinal and lateral rail placement for tangent tracks and switches. They are equipped with La Falco's patented fully automated radio-controlled operation.

The larger F40TR model has a 40 metric ton lifting capacity. Its 88 kW diesel engine gives it the power to rapidly pick up and maneuver full 39-foot rails into precise positions before lowering and attaching them to the sleepers. The operator commands the F40TR remotely for maximum safety and flexibility when operating near active tracks.

Similarly, the more compact T30 Gantry has a 30 metric ton capacity and 47.8 kW power unit. It utilizes the same radio-controlled automation for quick, versatile track and switch installation. Both gantries are configurable for any rail gauge and transportable by truck or rail.

ADOR's track renewal machines from La Falco allow contractors to construct railroad infrastructure faster and more efficiently. Technologies like automated sleeper placement, radio-controlled rail laying, and enhanced mobility help complete projects on time and on budget with less labor. Contact ADOR to learn how their premier track-laying equipment can benefit your next railway project.

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Choosing the Right Machine for the Project

When undertaking railway construction or maintenance, selecting the appropriate track laying machinery is crucial for efficiency, productivity and quality outcomes. The type of equipment needed depends on critical factors like the scale of the project, site conditions, and production targets. Careful evaluation of machine capabilities versus project requirements allows contractors to match the right technology to the job.

For large-scale new railway construction over long distances, high-output automated track layers like ADOR's PLF20 and F40TR models maximize production. Their continuous sleeper laying, and long rail handling abilities enable rapid installation of kilometers of new permanent way. Projects on tight timelines benefit from the speed and productivity of these state-of-the-art machines.

More compact track layers may suffice on smaller jobs like siding extensions or minor realignments. ADOR's T30 provides the precision and automation advantages in a package designed for lower capacity requirements. Maneuverable units travelling along the track and handling shorter rail and sleeper bundles can be optimal for small-scope works. When undertaking major rehabilitation of congested urban networks, equipment that operates from existing tracks without extensive site setup is advantageous. Radio-controlled gantries allow rapid track access from adjacent lines to minimize disruptions in critical infrastructure. Machines that integrate automation for safety around live rail operations prove valuable in these scenarios.

For routine maintenance tasks like spot sleeper replacement or short segment rail swaps, purpose-built work trains with modular equipment avoid the need for large machines. ADOR can provide customizable solutions tailored for efficient small component track renewal. Proper machine selection considers technical parameters like weight limits, turning radii, clearances, lift capacities and traction capabilities. It also weighs factors like workforce needs, production targets, site constraints, transport logistics and life cycle costs. ADOR's expertise assists owners in optimizing these variables to match the ideal machinery package to their track works for maximum output.

Owners can make informed track layer procurement decisions by understanding project scope requirements in detail and evaluating the latest machinery technologies available. ADOR collaborates with clients to provide the most appropriate equipment solutions to enhance productivity, quality and value across the full spectrum of new construction and maintenance railway projects.


Over the past decades, the development of heavy machinery purpose-built for railway track construction and maintenance has revolutionized the process. Powerful track-laying machines now make it possible to renew kilometres of permanent way or build entirely new lines with incredible speed, efficiency and quality compared to manual methods. As global demand for rail transportation increases, so does the need for continuous technological advancement in railway infrastructure machinery.

ADOR offers the latest innovations to improve track layers' productivity and capabilities. Machines like the PLF20 Sleeper Gantry and F40TR Track Layer exemplify the automated, optimized and versatile equipment defining today's state-of-the-art. Their precision sleeper placing, swift rail installation and remote controllability enable reliable, high-quality outcomes on projects of any scale.

Careful selection and matching of machinery to the specific requirements of each rail construction or renewal project ensures owners obtain the maximum productivity and value. ADOR's expertise helps guide clients through this process from start to finish. Their tailor-made solutions draw from an extensive range of specialized railway machines to efficiently meet every project's unique demands.

With rail infrastructure continually growing and evolving worldwide, track laying technology will undoubtedly continue advancing in lockstep. Machinery with more automation, intelligence, and capabilities, like those from ADOR, will become even faster, safer and more efficient. The future appears bright for leveraging these machines' strengths to build the robust rail networks needed for tomorrow's transportation landscape.