Inside Union Pacific’s new aerodynamics laboratory, Wayne Kennedy slides on big green sound-proof ear muffs and cranks the motor powering a mach 0.2 wind tunnel. The 50-foot-long wood, steel and acrylic glass machine roars to life. Smoke swirls around a G-scale model train.
It's only fitting that as the 150th anniversary of the driving of the golden spike approaches – a monumental effort that joined a nation – that American railroads are implementing Positive Train Control (PTC), a technology framework that brings the rail industry into a new era.
What do rock ‘n’ roll and bridge inspectors have in common? Just as the strings’ vibrations tell a guitarist his instrument is properly tuned and ready to jam, the same kind of vibration or movement can give an engineer insight into a bridge’s durability. It’s called “smart monitoring” and it has the potential to revolutionize how the nation’s more than 614,000 bridges are inspected.
While NASA is finding ways to use 3-D printing to provide necessities for colonizing Mars, Union Pacific is applying the same technology to make locomotive operations safer and more efficient.
Driving along California's scenic I-5 corridor, there's a good chance you'll see a whole new breed of locomotive pulling heavy freight along Union Pacific's main rail line.
Tucked away in an inconspicuous corner of Union Pacific’s Omaha headquarters is a set of plain, white metal doors with a small gray sign that reads “LAB.” Behind the doors lies a peek into the railroad’s future.