Amtrak's TRACK GEOMETRY CAR
When I speak of travelling i usually make mention of "the Truck" or "the Car". Well, this is "the CAR" It is designated as AMTK10002 or "the ten thousand two" and is carried on either revenue passenger trains or in some instances special trains. We use the car to test track geometry including alignment on each rail, gauge (dist. between rails), profile, curvature, elevation (tilt) of the track, and g force measurements for lateral and vertical ride quality measurements.
The information gathering stage is based on a bunch of computers that use QNX which is a real time based operating system. It is the only widely distributed real time O.S. in the world. The TGMS console or main console is an example of this very powerful unix based system. No graphic interface is used and it has the look and feel of the old dos machines in its raw console form. Notice the video camera picture of the test beam under the car .
All of the computers are industrial 19" rackmounts and housed in one of four racks, as shown here in rack #1 and #2. Video taping of the railroad can also be performed from here. The computers that aren't monitored constantly are accessed through one keyboard and screen and a fancy switching arrangement in the rack. A test station with various meters and an ocilloscope is built in as well.
The TGMS terminal must be monitored constantly while testing as with the edit terminal pictured here. A medical type stripchart records events as information is gathered and the screen can be used to edit that information. This is a critical job for accurate information and takes a trained eye and knowledge of track structure as well as experience with the system.
Visiting railroad dignitaries and track supervisors can monitor the progress of the test from the back observation area. Two monitors are mounted there so the supervisor can see defects found and also view a ride quality index graph "as it happens". A stripchart is also provided for duplicate tracings of the edit terminal for further analysis by the home railroad. It's a lovely view from back there as well.
The car can also test overhead wire geometry for height and offset from center. Notice the Pantograph on the roof of the car in the first picture. This testing is very important for our new high speed trainsets that will use this wire for their power. A stripchart is also available here for catenary system (overhead wire) measurement. Also available is a test that actually tests the wheels themselves and the forces on them. This takes special wheelsets and is not standard faire on the car but is done from time to time.
More to Come....... I'm working on it:)