Through our UP CARES public safety initiative, more than 8,500 outreach and training events reached more than 704,000 people in 2012. UP CARES activities include:

  • Grade crossing enforcement and education with local, county and state law enforcement agencies.
  • Safety trains that provide a firsthand look at what locomotive engineers see when they operate trains through a town.
  • Communication blitzes that include community education events and media outreach.

Union Pacific helped found and now collaborates with Operation Lifesaver, an independent nonprofit safety education and outreach organization with the mission of ending collisions, deaths and injuries at rail crossings.

Innovative Safety Technology

Our reportable derailment rate decreased by 2 percent in 2012 and by 15 percent from 2002 to 2012. We are aware, however, that there’s more room for improvement. Innovative technology can enhance safety and we remain focused on improving processes and investing in new technologies to keep our employees and our communities safe.

These technologies include:

  • Distributed Power Units. Distributed Power Units (DPU) are locomotives that operate in the middle and/or end of trains rather than only at the front of trains. This placement makes trains less prone to derailments and facilitates more even braking which, in turn, reduces wheel and track wear. This technology also improves fuel efficiency, resulting in fewer emissions.
  • Ultrasonic Wheel-Defect Detection. The process to identify defective wheels can be a needle-in-a-haystack situation. The only one of its kind in the industry, our robotic system scans each wheel in our coal-car fleet every 60 to 90 days in an effort to eliminate derailments caused by broken wheels.
  • Wayside Detectors. Each day, our systems analyze 20 million data points collected at more than 4,700 special detectors deployed across our network, helping to more accurately identify and repair potential failures in rail equipment components.
  • Hot Bearing (“Hotbox”) Detectors. These special detectors use an infrared sensor to measure the temperature of bearings as a train rolls by, allowing us to identify faulty bearings that could result in a derailment.
  • Acoustic Bearing Detectors. Sound plays a role in determining bearings’ safety. Audio bearing detectors feature a shutter that opens just prior to the passing of a train. The open shutter allows an array of microphones to identify bearing defects.
  • Wheel Profile Detectors. The wheel profile detector uses a laser similar to a supermarket checkout scanner to capture a cross-sectional snapshot of the outline of a wheel as it rolls by. Based on this data, wheel defects are identified, reported and addressed.

Unsafe Motorist Behavior Reporting

Our job as railroaders is to be vigilant of dangerous crossings in order to protect the communities we serve. We created the first-of-its-kind Unsafe Motorist Reporting process for train crews to report close calls with motorists and pedestrians, pinpointing high-risk locations. We make this data accessible to both Union Pacific and outside agencies that use the data to determine which grade crossings receive active warning devices or other road improvement projects.