Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Union Pacific replaces Deval diamond in 48 hours

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A Union Pacific train passes over the new Deval diamond on the Milwaukee subdivision in Chicago. A Union Pacific train passes over the new Deval diamond on the Milwaukee subdivision in Chicago. Union Pacific

Union Pacific credits teamwork and planning for the successful replacement of the 100,000-pound, five-track Deval diamond in a little over 48 hours.

Union Pacific says about 90 employees worked in 12-hour shifts through late-night hours and constant rain to replace the Deval diamond in Des Plaines, Ill., where three of UP's Harvard Subdivision tracks cross two Milwaukee Subdivision tracks. Crews used five track-hoes and four end-loaders to complete the $2-million task.

"This work cuts down on the delays that occurred every time we had to do maintenance on the diamond," said Brian Bailey, Union Pacific manager of track projects. "Eliminating that maintenance increases our velocity across the diamonds, which means everyone – commuters and freight trains – will get to where they're going faster."

The new diamond was designed with less track bolts – about 76 less. Bailey says that since track bolts are some of the weakest points of the diamond, eliminating some of them can also reduce track maintenance.

Because the diamond allows uninterrupted commuter service to thousands travelling to and from Chicago, Bailey says that the project had to be scheduled on a weekend to avoid weekday commuting.

While timing was a challenge, the team took tracks out on a Friday night at 7 p.m. and had all work complete by Sunday, Metra service never stopped; it was only delay by 30 minutes.

Other unique hurdles to jump included power lines and the weight of the diamond.

"Normally we would use a crane to lift something that heavy, but with the amount of power lines going over this location, we had to use track hoes that weren't as tall," Bailey said. "We used end-loaders to lift the weight to set the diamond in place."

Crew also installed new geo-webbing, $20,000 in drainage pipes and expansion joints in efforts to minimize future track maintenance.