Rails know them as Pandrol clips — the bent three-quarter-inch steel clips that fasten rail to concrete ties along Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor and some other locations.
In North Kingstown, R.I., reports the Providence Journal, some of the clips — each weighing about two pounds — have been breaking off, as Amtrak’s Acela passes over the tracks at 100 mph, and flying through the air.
One clip recently flew through the kitchen window of a North Kingstown home, and another hit the side of a home, and bounced back to the street, reports the Providence Journal. Another flying clip broke a picket fence. And at a North Kingstown factory, employees say the clips “boom off the building” on occasion. No injuries have been reported.
Amtrak told the Providence Journal that such incidents are rare, but acknowledged they been occurring since 2008. The problem also has been reported at Chicago’s Union Station.
Amtrak also told the Providence Journal it is removing loose clips and installing heavier clips in some locations.
Pandrol Track Systems, the manufacturer of the clips, told the Providence Journal that millions of its clips are used by railroads worldwide. Pandrol says the problem is not one of design or installation.