Wireline Installation Engineering Specifications

Overview

The following standard specifications are considered to be minimum design standards for wireline facilities crossing railroad tracks and right-of-way. Variances may be required by the utility applicant or the Railroad if needed because of the unique characteristics of a particular job or job site. Any such variances will be agreed to by the Railroad and utility using sound engineering design so as to allow construction of the crossing which will be safe, not adversely affect Railroad operations and reasonable in cost to construct. Notwithstanding the foregoing, in no event will the standard specifications be less restrictive than the minimum specifications of the current published National Electrical Safety Code (NESC) and the local governing authority.

General

The applicant should consider the following during the design process:

  • There are two types of clearances, overhead and underground. The purpose of the clearances is to allow a safe operating system without interfering with other systems.
  • Above-ground facilities should be located as far as possible from automobile or pedestrian crossings or constructed in such manner to allow automobile or pedestrian traffic adequate sight lines to see approaching trains.
  • If space permits, the above-ground facilities should be located in such a way as to allow for additional future tracks.
  • Although railroads do strive to keep derailments to a minimum, they do happen. Locations where derailments are most likely to happen are at turnouts, the outside of tight curves, ends of bridges, at road crossings and the pullout end of classification yards. Locating facilities at or near these locations should be avoided if possible.
  • All crossings should cross as near perpendicular to the track as possible but not less than at a 60 degree angle.
  • All wireline facility installations shall comply with the current published issue of the American National Standards Institute’s (ANSI’s) National Electrical Safety Code (NESC) and local governing authority.

Standard Specifications

Applicant’s Utility Line Crossing Checklist: Lines Carrying 750 Volts Or Less;
Power, Television, Telephone, and Fiber Optic Lines and Cables

  1. Underground
    1. A minimum depth of 4.5 feet below the base of rail (BBR) will be maintained except that a minimum of 5 feet BBR will be maintained for fiber optic cable wirelines.
    2. A minimum of 3.0 feet below natural grade (BNG) will be maintained except that a minimum of 5 feet below natural grade (BNG) will be maintained for fiber optic cable wirelines.
    3. Casing must extend a minimum of 30 feet out from the centerline of the nearest track, when measured at right angles. The casing material shall be steel or rigid metal conduit (no PVC) for typical burial depths. PVC will be considered acceptable if the burial depth is at least 15 feet.
    4. Horizontal directional drilling is not an approved method of installation unless the burial depth is at least 15 feet, the conduit/casing size is six inches or less, and the Interim Guidelines for Horizontal Directional Drilling Under Union Pacific Railroad Right of Way are followed. The interim guidelines were distributed by the Office of AVP Engineering Design on May 27, 2005.
    5. Crossings shall not be installed under or within 50 feet from the end of any railroad bridge, centerline of any culvert or switch area.
    6. A Railroad signal representative must be present during installation if railroad signals are in the vicinity of wireline crossing unless signal representative authorizes otherwise.
  2. Overhead
    1. The latest published edition of the National Electrical Safety Code shall apply with the height of rail car assumed to be 23 feet. If the local governing body does not recognize the latest published edition of the NESC, the Engineering Department of the Railroad will have to review each item on a case by case basis.
    2. Minimum 4 feet clearance required above signal and communication lines.
    3. Poles must be located 50 feet out from the centerline of railroad main, branch and running tracks, CTC sidings, and heavy tonnage spurs. Pole location adjacent to industry tracks must provide at least a 15 foot clearance from centerline of track when measured at right angles. If located adjacent to curved track, then said clearance must be increased at the rate of 1.5 inches per degree of curved track.
    4. Regardless of the voltage, unguyed poles shall be located a minimum distance from the centerline of any track equal to the height of the pole above the groundline plus 10 feet. If guying is required, the guys shall be placed in such a manner as to keep the pole from leaning/falling in the direction of the tracks.
    5. Poles (including steel poles) must be located a minimum distance from the railroad signal and communication line equal to the height of the pole above the groundline or else be guyed at right angles to the lines.
    6. All crossings must be located a minimum of 500 feet from the end of any railroad bridge, and 300 feet from the centerline of any culvert or switch area.
  3. Review
    • Applicant should thoroughly review the application and contact the railroad company at 1-800-336-9193 to determine if a fiber optic cable is buried on the subject right of way.

Applicant’s Utility Line Crossing Checklist: Lines and Cables Carrying More Than 750 Volts

  1. Overhead
    1. The latest published edition of the National Electrical Safety Code shall apply with the height of rail car assumed to be 23 feet. If the local governing body does not recognize the latest published edition of the NESC, the Engineering Department of the Railroad will have to review each item on a case by case basis.
    2. Poles or other structures supporting power must be 50 feet out from the centerline of main running tracks, CTC sidings and heavy tonnage spurs. Pole location adjacent to industry tracks must provide at least a 30 foot clearance from centerline of track when measured at right angles. If located adjacent to curved track, then said clearance must be increased at the rate of 1.5 inches per degree of curved track.
    3. Regardless of the voltage, unguyed poles shall be located a minimum distance from the centerline of any track equal to the height of the pole above the groundline plus 10 feet. If guying is required, the guys shall be placed in such a manner as to keep the pole from leaning/falling in the direction of the tracks.
    4. High voltage poles and structures (34.5kV and higher) must be located off railroad right of way.
    5. Crossings will not be installed under or within 500 feet from the end of any railroad bridge, or 300 feet from the centerline of any culvert or switch area.
  2. Underground
    1. A minimum depth of 4.5 feet below the base of rail (BBR) to the top of the facility will be maintained.
    2. A minimum of 4.0 feet below natural grade (BNG) to the top of the facility will be maintained.
    3. The wireline must be encased completely across the railroad right of way with a rigid metallic conduit or non-metallic conduit (PVC) encased in a minimum of 3 inches of concrete.
    4. A 6-inch wide warning tape will be installed 1-foot BNG directly over the underground power line where located on railroad right of way outside the track ballast sections. No warning tape is required above directional boring routes.
    5. Crossings shall not be installed under or within 50 feet from the end of any railroad bridge, centerline of any culvert or switch area.
    6. A Railroad signal representative must be present during installation if railroad signals are in the vicinity of wireline crossing unless signal representative authorizes otherwise.
  3. Review
    • Applicant should thoroughly review the application and contact the railroad company at 1-800-336-9193 to determine if a fiber optic cable is buried on the subject right of way.

Diagrams of Common and Engineering Standards