Friday, June 02, 2017

Union Pacific continues PTC progress

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Union Pacific (UP) continues its efforts to implement positive train control (PTC). The Class 1 released a progress report citing its accomplishments in the first quarter of 2017.


UP says its accomplishments so far include:

  • Preparing 18 additional track segments for PTC operations, bringing the total number of track segments to 77 (26 percent complete). These 18 track segments are equipped with wayside devices (signals, switches and radios) and have defined GPS coordinates, which identify thousands of precise locations for systemwide PTC coordination. The first quarter's new PTC-ready segments stretch from western Idaho east through Pocatello; across northeastern Nevada along two sets of main lines leading to Ogden and Salt Lake City, Utah; and southwest of Salt Lake City. These newly ready lines build on progress completed in 2016 covering a wide swath of UP's Western Region, from Southern California to Portland; from Portland to Pocatello, Idaho; and from Roseville, Calif., through Reno to Elko, Nevada.
  • Educating more than 5,000 additional employees on PTC operations, bringing the total number of employees trained to about 12,500 (31 percent). Diverse training materials are tailored to a variety of employee roles, including engineer, conductor, dispatcher, maintenance of way/engineering, mechanical, signal, telecom and information technologies.
  • Increasing by 1,500 the number of route miles in PTC operation, bringing the total number of route miles in Revenue Service Demonstration (RSD) to 3,950 (19 percent).

Additional progress includes:

  • 70 percent of required locomotives are equipped with PTC technology.
  • 86 percent of required radio towers are equipped with PTC technology.
  • UP's PTC Safety Plan was approved by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) in April.
  • UP acquired the necessary spectrum to support PTC operations.


The Class 1 says its PTC system consists of multiple technologies functioning together to constantly monitor and manage train movements. Union Pacific is using integrating signal and telecom elements, GPS, wayside, base station and locomotive radios and antennas and satellites to predict whether the train crew should be alerted to take action or if the technology should take control to slow or stop the train.

Through March 31, UP installed 95 percent (16,361 miles) of total route miles with PTC signal hardware and partially installed PTC hardware on 93 percent of its 5,656 locomotives earmarked for the technology. It has also equipped 2,735 locomotives with PTC hardware and software for Revenue Service Demonstration (a test of the PTC system in a defined rail corridor) and installed 97 percent of the wayside antennas needed to support PTC along the company's right of way.

Union Pacific plans to spend about $300 million on PTC in 2017 toward the current total estimated $2.9 billion cost.