OK, that’s an impressive machine!

According to Popular Mechanics, this rail-laying machine “created by Austrian manufacturer Plasser & Theurer which performs all the functions of an assembly line needed to lay down miles of railroad track, with only a few workers running the process.”

I wonder how many workers were replaced by that behemoth?



  1. Although the machines are separate, IE, one machine pulls the old spikes and removes the plates, other takes up the old rail, another takes up the old ties, and 3 more do the reverse order…American rail laying has been doing what this machine does for years and years. And probably uses about the same amount of workers. AND…by being modular the breakdown of one machine doesn't cause the whole thing to stop. They just replace the machine with a spare.

  2. While I'm sure there are fewer workers than there used to be, if you look closely there are still a surprising number of workers in the video: each section of machine has an operator, plus there are watchers/ guards off the tracks, and of course there have to be mechanics and maintenance personnel ready – a machine that complex needs LOTS of specialized maintenance!

  3. This is probably another field where the old ways are being lost. I haven't seen any gandy dancers for years. Lord help us if technology crashes and we need the old skills.

  4. A while back, I came across this actually, quite bad, science fiction story about life in 2032, published in 1889. It does have some interesting flips such as the New Poverty, where the now lower social class, the wealthy, live on train (homes) that lay track across the countryside. The "poor" are now the higher class in a strained homage to Marxism.

    That operation does not seem to conducive to a peaceable life.


  5. How many engineers and highly skilled welders and fabricators were needed to create the rail replacement machine? I suspect it took years of trial and error to perfect the process.

    As Peter has pointed out many times, grunt labour is endangered, skilled labour is not.


  6. As anon correctly points out, this is a rail replacement machine. It doesn't look to be capable of laying the initial track, nor of replacing significantly damaged track. Proactive maintenance only.

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