All three options have advantages and disadvantages. First, we are going to talk about the advantages.
Hydraulic Rail Drills only have a hydraulic driven engine. It is too basic and not complicated. It is relatively light. It doesn’t break down easily. If it broke down, you need a hydraulic expert, It can be difficult and expensive. There is no gas or electric consumption as an engine. Hydraulic engine can be more powerful than others. If you have hydraulic equipped vehicle you use the drill without the power unit. Well known hydraulic rail drill manufacturer is Stanley in US.
Electric Drills only have an electric driven engine and several electronic circuit switches. It is also simple and easy to fix. Especially 110V electric engine does not break frequently. Changing parts or fixing it is easier than hydraulic and gasoline engines. Electric Engines’ power can be adjustable. Electric Engine Rail Drills are cheaper than Hydraulic and Gasoline engine rail drills. RailEZ Electric Rail Drills are more compatible and high quality in US Railway maintenance market.
Gasoline Engine Rail Drill is mostly used at the rail works. It is relatively more complicated than others. Nevertheless, it has four strokes one-cylinder simple engine. It is also light for only one man. Fixing the gasoline engine is very easy. There are a lot of mechanic shops that can fix it easily. It has no hydraulic hoses or electric cable, It is the only machine that can be powered by itself. Gasoline Engine Rail Drills’ price is cheaper than others. Because it doesn’t need to use a generator or a hydraulic power unit. In US well known Rail Drills with Gas engines are RailEZ, Power Bor, Track Star, Cembre, Robel and Geismar brands.
Disadvantages of these three types of rail drills:
Hydraulic Rail Drills need Hydraulic Power Units and hoses. It can be too heavy for two people. It is not too easy to move everywhere. Hydraulic power unit can be a diesel or gasoline engine. They have a min 9 HP engine. Sometimes it can be 27 or 35 HP, so it makes a lot of noise. Their consumption is more than the other drills. You have two engines in this machine , one hydraulic and one gasoline, so you need two different kinds of mechanics. The price of hydraulic rail drills is more expensive with a hydraulic power unit. Minimum price for hydraulic drill with power unit can be $6500-$7000
Electric Rail Drills need an electric source. It can be a generator or a plug at the area. In maintenance areas or depot it is easy to find an outlet but At the railroad it is difficult to find 110V regular electric, so you need a generator. It can be a small gasoline generator, but you also need cables. It is not heavier or bigger than the hydraulic power unit but you still need a generator. RailEZ Rhino E electric engine rail comes with a Honda EU 2200 Super Quiet generator and the price is $4000.
Gasoline Engine Rail Drills do not need any additional power unit. It is nearly 40 pounds. It is heavier than the others. Gasoline engine can break down easily compared to hydraulic or electric ones. The machine itself is a little bit noisier than the others, but others’ power units are noisier than gasoline engine rail drill. It’s price is under $3500.
If we think about usage area, it is better to use an electrical rail drill in indoor areas like factories, maintenance workshops and depots. In outdoor areas, it is difficult to find electric and difficult to move the power unit and the generator, so gasoline engine rail drill is the best solution for drilling on site tracks. In a quarry or in any other dangerous area, you can use hydraulic rail drills without the power unit. You can put the power unit in a safe area and use a long hydraulic hose for the drilling machine. It is the safest solution. In a crane rail, or in the port you can use electrical or gasoline engine rail drills. It is easy to find an outlet. If you want to use it on air rail or monorail, best option is gasoline engine rail drills.
Several Brands have Battery powered rail drills, but It is not efficient to use, most of them can only drill 24 holes by one charge and You must wait 45 minutes to get it fully charged again.
Some companies manufacture diesel rail drills, but it is not useful. Diesel engines are more complicated and heavier. also The price is too high.
In Conclusion, In Railroad maintenance market, professionals choose %70 Gasoline engine rail drills, % 15 Hydraulic engine rail drills and % 15 Electric rail drills.