Amtrak spending millions stop cracks

February 28, 2008 5:36:00 AM PST
Concrete railroad ties are supposed to last about 50 years. But Amtrak needs to replace some it bought starting in the 19990's because they're already starting to crack.

The problem is in the heavily traveled Northeast corridor and failure to replace the track ties could mean delays and loss of business.

It's not clear exactly how much the project will cost, but Amtrak tells Congress it expects to spend more than $23 million on the ties this year alone.

Amtrak spokesman Cliff Black says if the ties fracture badly, they can't support the rails. He says there is no danger now, because the problem has been caught early.

Amtrak says its contract with the supplier requires the company to provide new ties for free. But Amtrak has to pick up the labor cost.