ERDC Experts Lead Railroad Repair Training at Fort Johnson

Making railroads safer was the focus of a recent training led by experts from the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) Geotechnical and Structures Laboratory (GSL).

GSL’s Railroad Track Research and Evaluation Program recently conducted a railroad training at Fort Johnson in Vernon Parish, Louisiana, to support the 46th Engineer Battalion. The training included classroom presentations and field exercises to enhance participants’ railroad repair skills. Attendees included leaders from the 46th Battalion and 20th Engineer Brigade.

The training included field exercises that focused on simulated bomb damage and track alignment repairs.

Jeremy Beasley, team lead for the Railroad Track Evaluation Program, called the project one of the most gratifying in his ERDC tenure.

“I have been fortunate to work on numerous projects during my 10-plus years at ERDC, but this project was by far the most rewarding,” said Beasley. “From the initial planning with brigade leaders and lieutenants, to identifying a training location and procuring railroad repair tools, and the hands-on classroom and field training helped me gain valuable insight into Army railroad capabilities and gaps.”


Though Beasley and his team guided the training, they did have an opportunity to learn from the Soldiers in the classroom and in the field, as well as see them progress from having no existing knowledge to having an understanding of railroad repair.

“I heard feedback from Soldiers on what may or may not be feasible in a contingency environment,” Beasley explained. “It was gratifying to see the progress from Soldiers over the three-week training event, especially when they started the training without any railroad component and repair knowledge.”

The program establishes an infrastructure for producing home-grown railroad experts in the U.S. Army, creating an avenue for domestic repairs and less reliability on international aid.

“There is no organic capability for railroad repair in the U.S. Army, and U.S. forces rely on host nations or NATO partners to make needed repairs in contested environments,” said Beasley.

“This exercise laid the foundation for establishing a training program for building a U.S. Army capability for railroad repair and the development of deployable railroad repair kits in the future. With over 50 years of combined DoD railroad experience and subject-matter experts in railroad repair, this training allowed ERDC to transfer valuable railroad repair knowledge to the 20th Engineer Battalion.”

Leaders were impressed by the students’ enthusiasm. Sandra Ruiz, platoon leader for the 1st platoon in the 687 Engineer Constructions Company, felt that the training made an impact on her Soldiers that would inspire them to continue their education in bettering the railroad system.

“I enjoyed watching my Soldiers become excited and passionate about the rails system,” said Ruiz. “It was impactful to watch so many young Soldiers’ desire to continue training and further their knowledge about something that could benefit the military.”