What is a Hi-Rail Truck?



A hi-rail truck is a dual-mode vehicle which can operate both on rail tracks and a conventional road. They are often converted road vehicles, switching their normal wheels with rubber tires, but fitted with additional flanged steel wheels for running on rails. Hi-rail trucks and cranes are designed to work on railways and are fitted with additional features to work seamlessly in this unique environment. Hi-rail trucks and cranes are compact enough to not pose a danger to overhead powerlines and feature wheels that are safe for rail tracks.

Uses for Hi-Rail Trucks

Hi-rail trucks are typically used for railroad right-of-way maintenance during engineering possessions of the line. They can be driven on roads to get to the site and then transform into a rail vehicle for the final journey to the worksite. This prevents the tiring manoeuvres that would be associated with a road vehicle accessing a worksite that is not near a road. Since they are normally transformed or converted road vehicles, they are typically only driven on rail tracks under an engineering possession. They are generally built to be insulated; thus, they do not activate track circuits.

How does a Hi-Rail Truck work?

Strong Guide Wheels

The hi-rail truck has strong guide wheels which are just like train wheels, as they are designed to fit the same rails, but on hi-rail vehicles, they measure just 335mm in diameter. The total weight of the wheels and jacking equipment might range from around 300kg to 1500kg.

Insulated Guide Wheels

To avoid the hi-rail truck from generating crossing-gate operation or setting off other sensors, there is the option of  insulated four guide wheels to obstruct conductivity.

Medium-Duty hi-rail conversion

As required, medium and heavy-duty trucks are also fitted for hi-rail service.

Install Steering Lock

Once a hi-rail truck is on the way, the train rails take over directional control, so no routing inputs are necessary. To avoid accidental steering of any sort, a steering-wheel lock is installed.

Safety Issues

Hi-rail trucks have been involved in several serious incidents and causalities. Factors which lead to the derailment of these trucks include failed locking equipment, wheel failure, damaged rail wheel support systems, inappropriate tires, and uneven or overloading issues.

When working in a road-going model, operators have to keep in mind that the dynamics of the vehicle will be changed due to the increased weight at the front and rear. Some manufacturers have built high-quality systems that allow the rail wheels to be stored almost entirely inside the original bodywork and moving the centre of mass closer to the road axles. This improves the on-road driving performance of the vehicle.

Hi-Range Crane Forks ensures that all equipment is thoroughly checked prior to delivery to ensure these incidents don't occur.

Contact Hi-Range Crane Forks

If you’re are working on projects like junction upgrades, track expansion, slope stabilisation, signal works or other rail works, Hi-Range Crane Forks have a range of high-quality hi-rail equipment to suit your project needs. Reach out today to organise a free quote on our hi-rail trucks.

Specialised Hi-Rail Equipment Available For Your Next Project


Contact Hi-Range Crane Forks today to receive your free quote. We’ll work with you every step of the way to create a customised plan that suits the size, scope and duration of your site. We are specialists in hi-rail equipment for the building, construction and rail industries in Sydney and throughout New South Wales.

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