Albert J. Reinschmidt (1947 – 2018)

Leader in Railway Research and Technology Development

Dr. Albert J. Reinschmidt

B.S., Civil Engineering, University of Illinois, 1969
M.S., Civil Engineering, University of Illinois, 1972
Ph.D., Civil Engineering, University of Illinois, 1977


1977 – 1981 Assistant Professor, Pennsylvania State University
1981 – 1997 Association of American Railroads (AAR)
1998 – 2011 Transportation Technology Center, Inc. (TTCI)
2012 – 2018 Dr. Track Railway Consultants


Dr. Albert J. Reinschmidt, usually known as Al Reinschmidt and often as “Dr. Track”, was born on August 7, 1947 and died on January 5, 2018 after a long and fruitful career in the rail industry.  He studied at the University of Illinois both as an undergraduate and graduate student completing his B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees under the supervision of Professor William W. Hay, renowned in the railroad engineering community, and was Professor Hay’s last doctoral student.

Professor William W. Hay (L) viewing his retirement gift being held by Al Reinschmidt (R)

Dr. Reinschmidt taught railway engineering at both the University of Illinois and Pennsylvania State University before beginning his career at the Association of American Railroads (AAR) and Transportation Technology Center, Inc. (TTCI), retiring as Vice President of TTCI in December 2011, after 40 years in railway research and technology development.

He was an active member of the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association and served on two committees. He served as both a committee and section chairman for the Transportation Research Board, and was an invited speaker at railway conferences, workshops, and seminars worldwide.

A civil engineer by education and training, his research during the early part of his career was primarily in track deterioration (crossties, turnouts, bridges etc.) and maintenance planning. He was particularly involved in design criteria for track construction and remediation, including track component selection for optimum lifecycle costs and the effect of axle load on those choices.

Dr. Reinschmidt quickly became involved in vehicle/track interaction research, particularly to study the short- and long-term effects of track irregularities on vehicle performance and vice versa. Examples include his involvement in the operation of instrumented freight cars to measure the effect of track disturbances, the development of a Track Loading Vehicle to measure track system response to varying loads and the evaluation of wheel impact detectors. At the AAR in Washington, D.C. he was responsible for the establishment and maintenance of the technical standards for the North American railway industry.

He was also involved with railways oversees during his time at TTCI, particularly as part of the team working in the United Kingdom to develop a better understanding of the phenomena of rolling contact fatigue that led to practical inspection techniques and operational controls.

Continuing the family’s transportation tradition, his son Bert works as a train dispatcher for CSX, while daughter Jessica is a commercial airline pilot.  Dr. Reinschmidt was a volunteer at the Illinois Railway Museum and put special emphasis on helping introduce young children to the railroads through the Thomas the Tank program.

Friends and rail industry colleagues of Dr. Reinschmidt have founded a scholarship fund to commemorate his many contributions advancing the state of the art in railway engineering, and his support, encouragement, and mentorship for colleagues and students in their pursuit of knowledge in the field. For more information, click here.