Union Pacific’s Tucson, Phoenix Engineering Teams Take Safety Personally

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Union Pacific team members in Phoenix, from left, Paul DiLoreto, senior manager-Train Operations; Shelly Huckfeldt, manager-Industrial Development; Del Ball, track supervisor; Seth Frazee, manager-Track Maintenance; Omar Monge, director-Track Maintenance; CEO Jim Vena; and Mike SantaMaria, general manager-Transportation, Los Angeles Service Unit.

Whether battling the Sonoran Desert’s extreme temperatures or the Phoenix area’s heavy traffic, Union Pacific Railroad Engineering team members in Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona, are committed to safety – and each other – no matter the conditions.

The Tucson team is celebrating five years reportable injury free this month as the Phoenix team is working safely to hit their five-year milestone in January.

“As we work to become the best in safety, these teams have the mindset it takes to ensure everyone goes home safe,” said CEO Jim Vena, who recently visited with employees during a trip to the Los Angeles Service Unit, which covers Southern California, Arizona and parts of New Mexico.

While fixing broken rail or performing other routine maintenance from Tucson to the Mexico border and multiple locations around Phoenix, the crews identify at-risk situations – such as potential slip, trip and fall locations – using the DOIT (Define, Observe, Intervene and Test) process. Their resilience was put to the test over the summer, as Mother Nature brought more than 45 consecutive days of 110-degree or higher temperatures.

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Engineering Track Supervisor Del Ball, left, and Marco Villarreal, superintendent-Train Operations.

“Our safety success is 100% employee-driven,” said Omar Monge, director-Track Maintenance. “Each team member is empowered to share at-risk behaviors and find solutions to mitigate them. They are experienced, close-knit individuals who communicate well with each other and take safety very personally.”

Mike SantaMaria, general manager-Transportation, and his team are also appreciative of these Engineering teams.

“Day in and day out, these craft professionals maintain the railroad at all hours of the day and night to keep our trains moving safely and efficiently,” he said. 

Did you know? Union Pacific’s east-west line travels the width of Arizona from Yuma to San Simon, part of the railroad’s Sunset Route, a 760-mile corridor between LA and El Paso, Texas. UP Engineering forces throughout Arizona inspect and maintain more than 690 miles of track in the state, along with infrastructure such as bridges and facilities. UP continues to invest in the area’s rail safety, utilizing best practices in employee safety training and leveraging the latest technology, such as GPS, specialized sensors and Positive Train Control (PTC), an advanced system designed to automatically stop a train before certain incidents occur. From 2018-2022, Union Pacific spent $344 million on Arizona tracks, structures and facilities – this commitment to providing a safe and efficient network allows UP to be a valuable resource in attracting new business and industry.

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