Union Pacific’s Switch Modernization Project; Color-Based Switch Targets

Written by Jennifer McLawhorn, Managing Editor
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Union Pacific is undergoing a switch modernization project.
Courtesy of Union Pacific

OMAHA, Neb. – Union Pacific is undergoing a switch modernization project.

Union Pacific is undergoing a switch modernization project. These indicators tell “whether trains will be guided, or switched, from one track to another.” Now, they are being modernized via color in order to reduce derailments caused by human error. Senior Director for Safety, Kevin Anderson stated: “Through our travels around the network, we noticed many yards used different switch targets. . . While employees should always look at switch points to verify the route is properly lined, standardizing the visual cue will help employees – whether seasoned or new – see the same target in all locations.”

Anderson went on to say that theses visual aids “will help reduce potential injuries and rail equipment incidents like derailments. . . It will be a continuous effort over the next couple years to standardize these switch targets.” The roll out began at yards “with critical leads.” And in Salem, Illinois, there are 34 switch targets that have received positive feedback. According to UP’s Inside Track, these green-red targets “are mounted on switch stands within the yard’s 14 tracks, the longest of which is about 10,000 feet.”

A manager for train operations, Joshua Cooper, commented that the train crews like these modernized switch targets because “they’re bigger and more visible. . . They serve as a great visual cue, helping crews easily identify if they’re lined up for their current route or if their switch is lined against them.”

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