Union Pacific Railroad has begun using new tie removal technology to accelerate used-tie cleanup.
The Class I is testing the use of two excavators that ride along the top of a series of connected 70-foot-long rail cars. Excavator operators load tie bundles left in stacks along the right of way and transport them to one of three facilities where ties are recycled or shredded for cogeneration fuel, UP officials said in a post on the railroad's website.
Traditionally, contractors used trucks and front-end loaders to pick up about 2,500 ties per day. The new system doubles the number of ties that can be disposed of per day, UP officials said.
UP's engineering team is monitoring and assessing ways to improve and modify the equipment in advance of the railroad's plan to purchase additional tie pickup equipment over the next 15 months.
“Like anything new, you find things that are missing or need to be modified,” said Gordon Thompson, UP's assistant vice president of track renewal and replacement. “By the time future crews use the equipment, their results will improve our previous numbers.”
UP annually replaces 3 million to 4 million ties along its more than 32,000 route miles.