Union Pacific updates Q4 2017 PTC progress

Written by Kyra Senese, managing editor
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A depiction of UP’s systemwide PTC implementation progress
Union Pacific

As concerns about the implementation of positive train control (PTC) continue to make headlines, Union Pacific (UP) says it expects to meet all required deadlines for installing PTC on its network.


UP said it plans to continue testing and modifying technologies along its system through 2020. The railroad said its PTC footprint is the largest among North American railroads, with more than 17,000 UP route miles.

UP maintains consistent communications with Federal Railroad Administration officials regarding its PTC implementation efforts, the railroad said.

One especially difficult aspect of PTC implementation is ensuring system interoperability among all of the nation’s rail lines and locomotives, the railroad notes.

UP’s fourth quarter implementation work included efforts to prepare 33 additional track segments for PTC operations, bringing the total number of track segments to 168 and putting the railroad at 92 percent completion. The 33 track segments are equipped with wayside devices such as signals, switches and radios and have defined GPS coordinates, which establish thousands of locations for systemwide PTC coordination.

The railroad’s fourth quarter efforts also entailed educating more than 2,700 additional employees on PTC operations, bringing the total number of employees trained to about 19,400 or 75 percent of its employees, the railroad said.

UP also increased the number of route miles in PTC operation by nearly 2,500, bringing the total number of route miles in PTC operations to 10,053 or 59 percent.

Additional progress includes:

  • 88 percent of required locomotives now equipped with PTC technology
  • 100 percent of required radio towers now equipped with PTC technology


UP said its PTC system includes multiple technologies coordinating to consistently manage train movements.

Through Dec. 31, 2017, UP installed 99.7 percent, or more than 17,000 miles, of required route miles with PTC signal hardware. The railroad said it partially installed PTC hardware on 98 percent of its 5,515 locomotives earmarked for the technology.

UP said it also equipped and commissioned 4,220 locomotives with PTC hardware and software and installed 100 percent of the wayside antennas needed to support PTC along its right of way by Dec. 31.

The railroad also plans to spend about $160 million toward the current total estimated $2.9 billion cost of its PTC implementation in 2018.

UP intends to focus mainly in southeast Texas and New Mexico PTC implementation efforts during the first quarter of 2018, the railroad said.

Categories: C&S, Class 1, Safety/Training
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