Author: Pradeep Khaitan

Theft-Resistant fastening system enhances security on the railways

Theft of rail fastening systems is an issue that creates significant safety and security challenges to rail operators in some parts of the world. Presented with this problem, some railways have even resorted to adding a bead of weld to the shoulders into which the clips are driven to discourage their removal. Although partially successful in reducing theft, this was time-consuming to implement and created difficulties when maintaining the tracks as the clips could not easily be removed without grinding the weld off.

To solve this problem, Pandrol has developed engineered theft-resistant fastening systems that make it very difficult to remove clips without specialist tools. These have proved to be popular in areas where theft of track infrastructure is a problem and Pandrol has recently won a major contract for delivery of eAT 20123 theft-resistant rail fastening system – for a new installation of 83,000 sleepers in Bangladesh.

Engineering the solution

The system was first developed back in 2007, when Pandrol’s expert engineering team became involved in the design of the line between Dhaka and Chittagong in Bangladesh. Following a complete track survey, fastenings were proposed to strengthen the overall track structure and extend the life cycle of the track. One aspect of the project was that Pandrol was asked to solve the problem of theft rail clips from the track infrastructure. The Anti-Theft system incorporates e2000 series clips and is therefore known as the ‘eAT2000’ fastening. Once the clip has been installed, a notch on the clip’s centre leg interlocks with a matching protrusion that is cast inside the housing on the shoulder. This mechanism is very difficult to see in the installed assembly, so that it is difficult for thieves to figure out how to remove the clip. They won’t come out, but it’s not obvious why not!

Extraction of the clips is extremely difficult unless performed by use of a special extraction tool – which makes it very difficult for an unauthorised person to remove the product from the track. Over the past 10 years the system has been widely used in Bangladesh, the Philippines and Cambodia. It has proven to be effective in preventing theft.

The eAT2000 delivers a heavy-duty fastening system that offers low maintenance, durability and long life. The system uses high-wear resistant materials in the insulating components that ensure the longevity of the rail fastening system in the track. It also offers a high level of creep resistance, it involves no threaded components that can strip or corrode, and it avoids the use of plastic dowels in the sleeper. Although primarily designed for use on concrete sleepers, the use of cast hook-in shoulders means that the system can be adapted for use on other types of track, such as with steel sleepers. The eAT shoulder design can also be applied to the baseplates used on timber sleepers and in turnouts. The high toe load generated by the e2000 series clips mean that it can be used on all track types, right up to heavy haul.

The eAT system requires a purpose-designed shoulder. In order to prevent theft of e-clips from existing track, that has not been built with sleepers with the special eAT shoulders, Pandrol developed the TR2000 system. The TR2000 system is a retrofit solution designed to provide effective anti-theft rail fastening for sleepers fitted with conventional e-clip shoulders and already installed in the track. The TR System’s anti-theft feature is engineered from an interaction between the end of the e-clip toe and an additional or replacement insulator or cast spacer. The system can be installed on sleepers originally designed for PR clips, e-clips and even for generic copies of original Pandrol designs. If the risk of theft is confined to specific areas of a rail network, it may be cost effective to install the TR2000 system only in the locations where clip theft is most likely to occur.