Union Pacific's Revolutionary Track Rebuild Process Drives Efficiency

Aerial shot of Englewood Yard in Houston | MR

In Texas, a new off-track skate rebuild process keeps railroad operations moving.

As efficiency is king at Union Pacific’s Englewood Yard – one of the nation’s busiest rail yards, capable of processing nearly 3,000 cars a day – Engineering craft professionals recently revamped its process for conducting routine track maintenance.

Englewood Operating rebuilds skate sets using backhoe. | MR

Operating team members rebuild the skate sets, which hold rail cars in place by gripping the wheels, and then set the completed skates into place using a track hoe and chains.

The new approach rebuilds skates, designed to hold rail cars in place while trains are assembled, in an off-track location in the Houston yard. Once completed, track hoes place them in their final spot in the bowl, an area where outbound rail cars are assembled according to destination.

“This new, efficient method revolutionized the way we’ll rebuild skates in the future,” said Glen Ivy, director-Signal Maintenance.

The team historically rebuilt skates in the yard’s bowl, which required taking three active tracks out of service.

Once a slow and labor-intensive process, sometimes taking multiple days to rebuild a single skate, Ivy said Englewood’s Engineering team members replaced six skates – two per day – during the recent three-day rebuild project.

The revamped maintenance process makes it easier to safely deliver the service Union Pacific sold its customers. The change is one of many across the railroad’s network that enhances customer service, drives safety for its teams and keeps freight moving to support the global economy.

Henry Corbert, general superintendent, appreciated the cross-functional communication, cooperation and creativity that propelled the project.

“This will be our new standard at Englewood,” Corbert said.

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