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Project Manager
Contact Darin Jacobs, PE
Water Resources Group Leader

Plans to Accommodate Unit Train Shipping Service to Improve Transport

The project site for a Global Agricultural Products Corporation was served by the Union Pacific Railroad (UP) through manifest train service but didn’t possess the rail assets needed to accommodate unit trains. To keep trains running proficiently, many industrial corporations consider unit train shipping service because it’s the most efficient form of land transportation. Unit trains can be between 65 cars in length and 200 cars (or more), varying on the location and railroad. All cars in the freight train carry the same type of commodity, from origin to destination. Also important to note, the locomotives pulling the train will typically stay connected throughout the entire journey promoting time saving.

The UP required space for 110 cars with 48 hour turnaround time on equipment and a drive in, drive out design. Unfortunately, the existing yard and loading equipment was unable to accommodate these requirements. Snyder & Associates served as the lead designer and initially provided assistance to verify the overall feasibility of accommodating unit train service. After determining that required improvements were possible and UP could provide service, the design of upgrades was initiated.

The owner operates an established, busy yard facility that was required to remain in service 24 hours a day, 365 days a year during construction. Working with the owner, designs were developed to enable continued operation and accommodation the addition of unit trains. To handle unit trains, extensive changes in standard facility operating procedures were required. We assisted the owner to develop operating sequences that drove design parameters. The design included extensive grading and construction of approximately 14,000 feet of additional track, turnouts, grade crossings, and connections to the existing yard track. Numerous utilities were present in the construction area. Coordination of utility relocation and accommodation was conducted throughout the project design.

Space was limited, so creative site design was critical. A new track was designed running parallel to the existing UP corridor with geometry designed to accommodate large road locomotives and switching equipment. The owner hasn’t released the project for construction yet.