No matter what side of the Hudson River you live on, you are bound to encounter Rail Road Tracks. The East side has Metro North and Amtrak shuttling people back and forth to New York City. The west side has CSX freight trains traveling from New Jersey to Selkirk, New York.

Over the last few years rail safety has become a hot topic. Trains travel through our communities, they cross our country and city roads, and some even pass through people's yards. This close proximity has caused more people to become aware of train safety.

How Do Rail Road Companies Maintain Tracks?

Companies that run trains maintain their tracks in many ways, but I have to say I was not aware of a process that was used just this past week on the Western side of the Hudson River on the CSX tracks. I have seen tracks being worked on but I have never seen what happened in Catskill this week.

Railfan Rowan via YouTube
Railfan Rowan via YouTube

A homeowner reported on social media that she witnessed a train passing her house with sparks underneath it.

She shared a video and asked if she should report it for fear it was some malfunction. She received numerous replies and some knew what was going on and shared their knowledge with the rest of us. The train was rail-grinding

SEE Also: Congressman Pat Ryan of New York Calls for More Rail Safety

Railfan Rowan via YouTube
Railfan Rowan via YouTube

What is a Rail Grinder?

Rail grinding is a form of track maintenance that says is happening more often lately in inorder to keep our rail lines working at their best.

Rail grinding is just what it sounds like of course, I can only imagine what it sounds like when it is happening. A train specially equipped rides down that track grinding any grit, dirt, or abnormality of the rails.

Railfan Rowan via YouTube
Railfan Rowan via YouTube

The process I assume is loud but it also causes massive sparks which if you didn't know what the train was doing you would think it was having a problem. These same trains are also equipped with water to help wet the track and the areas around the tracks in case of fire.

In the video below you can see the whole process from grinding to watering down any hot spots.

So no need to worry if you see a small train heading down the tracks making sparks it is just making sure the rails are in their best shape.

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