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Fiber Optics On Railroad Rights-Of-Way

D. I. O'Callaghan, VP Constr., SP Telecom, San Francisco CA

Fiber Optics Background Approximately 40 percent of the 100,000 miles of fiber optic lines in the United States are located along railroad rights-of-way. Railroad rights-of-way were chosen by railroad engineers for many of the same reasons that they are being selected for fiber optic routes. Those reasons include: ease of construction, directness, and their link to major market locations throughout the United States. Fiber optic construction does not materially impact the railroad right-of-way. Railroad rights-of-way have limited access and afford better security for fiber optic systems than do alternative right-of-way choices. Railroad operations are dependent on communication systems. Historically the railroads have always been involved with communications. The Pacific Railroad Act, signed by Abraham Lincoln in 1860, authorized the construction of a railway and telegraph system from the Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean. In 1983 US Sprint built its first fiber optic line on Southern Pacific right-of-way. During the balance of the 1980s, communication companies rapidly constructed fiber optic networks throughout the United States. Fiber optic lines are still being constructed but not at the rate that occurred during the 1980s. The fiber optic networks are being completed. Redundant routes are being built to increase the reliability of the networks. Loops are being built in metropolitan locations. Mexico is starting the construction of a two-year program to construct a nation-wide fiber optic network. Fiber optics provide greater capacity, security, and efficiency than microwave and satellite systems. The fiber optic cables are three-eighths inch in diameter. They typically contain 16 to 144 fibers. Each fiber is the approximate thickness of a human hair. The number of circuits depends on the number of fiber pairs and the type of laser equipment utilized. Some fiber optic lines carry 200,000 circuits. Because of the security of the fiber optic systems, sensitive military and government traffic is carried. Individual fiber optic lines carry as much as $100,000 per minute in revenue. Communication companies pay for railroad rights-of-way as they would for other private rights-of-way. Public rights-of-way including the highway systems are available at no cost to the communication companies. Because of the size of the capital investment, which is in excess of $100,000 per mile, long-term leases are negotiated with the railroad. A typical prepayment for a 20-year ten foot wide non-exclusive easement could be $4,000 to $8,000 per mile and may include limited use of the communications capacity by the railroad. Payments are either annual or prepaid at a fee equal to the discounted present value of the annual payments. Leases are generally 20 years in length or longer. Organization Reaction of the Railroad Industry to Fiber Optics I am interested in the railroad industry's various approaches to meeting the fiber optic needs of communications companies. The organizational approaches vary depending on the railroad, the amount of fiber optics involved, the railroad's business needs, and its personnel. There is a spectrum of organizational approaches that have been

the affected departments are communications. . however. directional bores. rock work. Management of capacity Right-of-way Selection The decision process for utilizing a railroad right-of-way includes the communication company studying alternative costs and benefits. Regardless of the organization. Construction Costs ITEM Approximate Placement Costs (Material not Included) structure $ 40 per foot $100 per foot $2 per foot $4 per foot $10 per foot $250 per day $3. Railroad routes are less prone to damage by backhoes. or flagmen will be $2 per foot.utilized. They vary from a typical real estate department emphasis to the creation of multi-disciplined departments or subsidiaries focusing solely on fiber optics issues. a parallel highway right-of-way will not have a right-of-way fee. The focus of the organization will change over time depending on the following activities: 1.000 per day $40 per foot $30 per foot $75 per foot Bridge and attachments Directional boring Plowing using a cat Plowing using a rail plow Trenching Railroad flagmen Work trains Road and embankment bores Additives for rock Burial in streets Placement costs for a fiber optic line constructed using a cat plow and not requiring trenching. signal. Recording of easements 6. work trains. Employee awareness programs 7. Fiber optic systems and railroad facilities are less likely to be relocated because of urban development. Negotiations for additional projects 2. Relocations 5. maintenance of way. and operations. Placement costs for a fiber optic lines in city streets will exceed $75 per foot. real estate. construction costs may be higher than constructing on a railroad. Another criteria is security of the route. engineering. contracts. Construction activity 3. Typical placement costs vary between these extremes depending on the terrain and the construction techniques. structure attachments. For example. Miles of operable systems 4. bridge and building.

The issues that need to be considered in reviewing plans or in setting design guidelines are: The railroad's future capital plans. There are different concerns for a branch line with a 200 foot right-of-way of high property value than for a high density railroad line with plus 40 million gross tons annually. If the railroad is operating at or near capacity. In either case the alignment should be kept within a specified operating corridor. an option such as using a rail plow may be prohibited. In addition to the hi-rail review an office review is required by the railroad's real estate department. During the trip design criteria for the specific route is set. Ideally. The railroad's design criteria will differ for different routes. acceptable alternatives to bridge attachments. signal engineer and communications superintendent. repeater sites. The overriding criteria in the first case would be placement of the fiber optic lines to permit future property development. Review should be onsite with a real estate and engineering department representative. bridge renewals. bridge attachments. Pre-established design guidelines for alignment. Some companies use three kilometer reels for cable. track relocations. the fiber optic line will be placed so that construction techniques and subsequent operations minimize interference with railroad operations. and embankment bores simplify and speed up the review process. Design Review Construction plans showing the railroad right-of-way and the placement of the system are then prepared and reviewed by the railroad departments including bridge department. An efficient review is made utilizing a hi-rail vehicle and concurrently checking the construction drawings. and possible real estate sales. a trip is made over the route with the railroad's engineering department representative and the communications company design engineer. and still other companies choose rigid conduit systems. A set of valuation . Standard contract language provides for automatic approval in 30 days if objections aren't stated. others use six kilometer and even 12 kilometer reels. Railroads have established their own design criteria for fiber optic placement or developed lists of items of concern that are furnished to the communication design engineer. signal department. Other companies prefer direct buried cable instead of flexible conduit systems.A number of railroads have master agreements with major communication companies. These agreements reduce the time required to negotiate agreement on specific railroad rights-of-way because the business decisions have already been addressed. the communication engineers can make provisions to minimize future relative costs by taking the proposed projects into account. In the second case. Design Criteria Communication companies have design manuals and standards for construction of fiber optic systems. bridge engineer. A separate review process is used for repeater sites. This review is simplified by establishing guidelines. communication department. Even though future projects may not be completely defined. division engineers and the respective roadmasters. Some companies favor manholes versus hand-hole boxes. There are similarities between the systems built by the various companies and minor differences. Reviews must be quick and effective. Personnel involved in the hi-rail review should include the division engineer and the respective bridge supervisors and roadmasters and the communications engineer. future grade separations.

Don't attach to hand rails to avoid damage from loose loading or dragging equipment. 4. Move alignment closer to the track to provide for development. However. don't damage the market value of the property. Keep alignment within a specified operating corridor a. A group can review 200 miles of sites in one day. Design alignment to allow possible future longitudinal uses of the right-of-way. Pick attachment locations that are not prone to derailment damage. slides. 9. real estate and the operating department representative (engineering department) before driving to the next site.drawings for the route should be brought on the review trip. Select alignment to minimize loss of market value of right-of-way for other uses. The alignment should be consistent. After this review the communications company can do the necessary civil design work for the specific repeater sites. if there are parallel roads or streets. Identify choke points and install additional conduits. Don't attach to railroad structures unless it is necessary to do so. Determine locations of flooding. 10. 3. 5. Consider access and surveillance needs. In congested areas. If there are existing longitudinal easements. 4. Within 45 feet of main track in rural areas b. Structure Attachment Guidelines 1. 11. Within 20 feet of main track in urban areas 2. Site drawings are then prepared for permit documents. If there are maintenance roads on the right-of-way select alignment adjacent to maintenance road. scouring. Spacing of repeaters is critical but generally they can be moved one-half mile. select an alignment adjacent to the easement to avoid encumbering both sides of right-of-way. 3. 8. 2. and unstable embankments. bid documents and final railroad approval. Don't attach to timber structures because of fire risk and the likelihood of repairs or replacements to the structure in the immediate future. The systems being built now typically have repeater sites spaced at 25 miles. The communications company will want a location with good access and power. . 6. Avoid alignments that force communication company employees to foul the track during maintenance activities. Alignment Guidelines 1. utilities have to be located prior to selecting a tentative alignment. Concurrence on a specific site needs to be reached by the communications company. 7.

Require warranty items in contracts for clean up of right-of-way. 7. 8. Have a mechanism for preventing damage to railroad facilities. • Drainage is blocked. Develop a mechanism to report damages and to capture repair costs. Require or assist contractor in obtaining an effective communications system. • Cable is placed when culverts are silted and sufficient depth isn't obtained. 2. Develop guidelines for approving changes in construction drawings. Typical problems: • Contractor changes his mind after flagman is called. 6. Organize construction activities so that flagmen requirements can be minimized. All hardware is galvanized or stainless steel. • Pole line. Develop a basic railroad safety training program for contractors.5. 9. signals. . Construction Issues 1. 9. Plan on additional work for the following year to correct locations where plow line or trenches have settled. 10. Develop standard attachments so that approval can be on an exception basis. 5. • Flagman isn't available or isn't called. 3. and other railroad facilities are being damaged and not reported • Brush is not being removed. 7. 4. Assign a duly authorized railroad engineer to the project. This will reduce flagman costs. Design attachments that don't conflict with future bridge maintenance. 8. 6. Avoid attachments to upstream side of bridges. • Contractor is working in too many locations. Design attachments to avoid drift cleaning operations.

Place fiber optics information in track charts and valuation drawings. construction projects. 4. signal. Mr. track and roadway engineer. "Concrete Tie Rail Seat Abrasion-Conditions and Solutions on CN Rail. with headquarters in Edmonton. (Applause) President Cossel: Before we take a short break I would like to remind each of you here and especially the REMSA members that immediately after the recess we are going to have a presentation on the problems that we are now encountering with concrete ties. Please welcome Bob Gregory. on behalf of the Roadmasters I would like to present you with this certificate. Use your railroad's call-before-you-dig number or the state's One Call Number. Call Before You Dig 1. Bob will be happy to respond to questions following his formal presentation. Start an employee awareness program regarding the existence of fiber optics in the railroad right-of-way. Nordlund: The next special feature for today will be presented by Bob Gregory of CN Rail on the subject. Require the communications companies to maintain their markers. earthquakes. Recess President Cossel: At this time I would like to introduce Keith Nordlund who will present our next speaker. 6. fire guarding. I think it's beneficial for everyone. Bob commenced his career in the engineering department of CN in 1961. Bob's current duties include the investigation of concrete tie abrasion and repair methods and so is well qualified to speak on this subject. manager production Western Canada. hazardous spills. (Applause) ." Bob Gregory is currently manager production for Western Canada. Alberta. We'll reconvene here in ten minutes. Butler: Thank you. contractors working on the property. system engineer production. Since then he has held a number of positions including roadmaster.These problems can be managed by assigning qualified railroad representatives. earthwork. Dan. especially REMSA members. In the second half of the 1960s he took a leave of absence and enrolled at the University of Saskatchewan and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering and is now a member of the Professional Engineers Association of Saskatchewan. and bridge supervisors have returned to work for short periods to manage and inspect fiber optic construction projects when engineering department forces are not available. Establish a program of notifying communication companies of derailments. 3. regional engineer maintenance of way and now. and railroad employee digging on the right-of-way. 2. brush removal. Retired maintenance of way. to be in attendance immediately after the recess. 5. Modify right-of-entry agreements and licenses to include notification of call-before-you-dig centers. washouts. Whereupon there was a video presentation Mr. You answered everything we had in our minds and to show our appreciation. fires.