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The term hi-rail is used to describe vehicles and machinery that have been modified to operate both on conventional roads and on railways. The name hi-rail comes from the shortening of highway and railway, and a vehicle that fits the term will generally have standard rubber wheels with retractable flanged steel wheels attached. But why have machinery that can do both? Why not just have rail specific and road specific machinery?
A hi-rail machine or vehicle can, to some extent, be any machine or vehicle fitted with retractable flanged steel wheels. However, the need for this outside of rail and train maintenance is almost non-existent. That being said, hi-rail machinery and vehicles are a range of equipment that are needed to maintain railways and trains.
Hi-rail machinery, vehicles and equipment have a varied history. They first came about in the mid 20th century when town planners and engineers attempted to create buses and trams that could operate both on tracks and on the road. While hi-rail buses and trams were a good theory they did not work in practice. The same can be said for attempts to make road transferable trains.
It wasn’t until maintenance machinery and vehicles were modified to become hi-rail that the usefulness of road and rail operation was fully realised. Now there are companies across the globe specialising in the building, modifying and operating of hi-rail machinery and vehicles. The hi-rail machinery service the demands of local, state and national rail networks, ensuring both the trains and the tracks they use are in optimal condition.
There are two main ways a vehicle or machine becomes hi-rail compliant, they are either purpose-built or retrofitted with aftermarket attachments. There are benefits and drawbacks to both methods but what option you choose often depends on where you are in the world and what options are available to you.
In Europe, it is very common to find purpose-built hi-rail machinery and vehicles, there are a number of manufactures that cater to the demand as railways are such a vital part of how the continent connects people, resources and freight. The hi-rail machines and vehicles manufactured in Europe meet the regulations and standards set by the European Union, anyone looking to export this equipment needs to be across the differences in the European standards and their local standards.
In Australia, we deal almost solely in retrofitted hi-rail machinery and vehicles that meet Australian standards. This is mainly due to hi-rail work being a highly specialised sector. As only a handful of companies work on the railways in each state there is not as high of a demand for purpose-built hi-rail equipment. In saying that there are a number of manufacturers that cater to the need for hi-rail retrofitting, ensuring that their machinery and vehicles will fit the additional retractable steel wheels.
Need to Hire a Hi-Rail Telehandler?
At Hi-Range Crane Forks we work closely with railway operators to keep their rail lines in optimal condition. Our experience with hi-rail machinery is second to none and we pride ourselves on our ability to operate on the rails both efficiently and safely. Our wide range of hi-rail telehandlers and attachments are capable of completing a range of tasks, get in touch with the team today to learn more about how we can help you.
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