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Home / News & Reviews / News Wire / Union Pacific moves ‘monster’ loaded coal train with two distributed power sets to Wisconsin power plant NEWSWIRE

Union Pacific moves ‘monster’ loaded coal train with two distributed power sets to Wisconsin power plant NEWSWIRE

By Chris Guss | April 29, 2019

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OAK CREEK, Wis. — With Precision Scheduled Railroading in effect at Union Pacific, longer trains have become more frequent across its system. This loaded coal train is one such example. Loaded as two trains at North Antelope mine in Wyoming, Union Pacific consolidated both trains at South Morrill, Neb., for the trip to Oak Creek, just south of Milwaukee. The train, with symbol CNAOK 21, is passing Zion, Ill., on UP’s Kenosha Subdivision. It has six locomotives, SD70ACe No. 8991, SD70M No. 4903 on the front, SD70ACe No. 8734 and AC4400CWs Nos. 5799 and 5719 mid-train and AC4400CW No. 5902 on the rear. The train has 270 loads totaling 38,475 tons and stretching 15,025 feet.

25 thoughts on “Union Pacific moves ‘monster’ loaded coal train with two distributed power sets to Wisconsin power plant NEWSWIRE

  1. Anyone notice how many flat spots where in the consist, not very big ones but I heard at least 7 cars that some flat spots on a wheel or wheels. Also, at least they were able to maintain track speed for the area.

  2. Looks like they had two trains setup with 2 x 1 DPU, and they just connected the two units at the front of the second train on to the DPU of the first train, leaving three as mid-train and resulting in a 2 x 3 x 1 DPU configuration for the power.

  3. Another one on the way. And they ran a 313 car, 41000 ton manifest out of Butler last week. 170-180 or more car trains are getting more common here. They must be crew changing the coal out by O’Hare because if they do it at the north end of Yard 9 they will still have 8 crossings tied up in Elmhurst and Villa Park. Cant wait until one of these goes into emergency or has problems and is strung out across Deval right about fleet time.

  4. Steven Bauer – 313 cars out of Butler is about two week’s worth. Well, I exaggerate. Traffic on both the Adams line and the Sheboygan branch seem steady, but 313 cars?

    From 1997 to 2002 I lived on a Wauwatosa hillside with a perfect view of the south approach to Butler. Didn’t see no 313 car trains.

  5. It’s funny how you guys think this is new. CN has been running trains this long for years.

    And to the guy who noticed 7 cars with flat spots, 7 cars WITHOUT flat spots is more frequent.

  6. Charles, I would lay down a 20.00 bill that you didnt see much, if any, frac sand from 1997 to 2002 either living on that hillside. How do you think that stuff is leaving, by boat?

  7. What about meets with higher priority trains in single track territory and no siding is long enough for trains like this?

  8. We in Kenosha are rather fortunate that the line is grade seperated for about 4.5 miles through town, especially since these trains tend to slow down to around 10 mph passing the Metra station and while switching to the single (mostly jointed rail) track on the north edge of town. Since the trains share the tracks with Metra south of Kenosha, the well-maintained line allows them to run up to 50mph. Most trains don’t run much faster than 30mph on the single track between Kenosha and the south side of Milwaukee, so those poor folks in Racine (which has no grade separation) get to wait and wait and wait.

  9. How does the power plant handle the arrival of two trains at the same time? Do the cars sit twice as long waiting to be unloaded?

  10. I don’t see the savings. Instead of the first train moving down the line, now it is sitting and waiting for the second train to be loaded before they both leave. If the first train left when it was loaded it could be unloaded before train no. 2 arrives. Now you have both trains waiting to be unloaded at the same time at the generating station. And what about this PSR talk about car utilization. Kind of goes out the window I would think.

  11. Steve, You’re correct about the frac sand. That’s why there is freight on the Adams line much moreso than before.

  12. I’m not familar with the rail yard at the Oak Creek plant. Can they bring in 3 miles of train? Or does half sit out on a siding or in the yard at Butler?

    Thr Sheboygan Edgewater plant can handle about 140 cars, so half the train would have to be parked somewhere waiting for the first half to be unloaded. Then swap the cars.

  13. Charles, I’m familar with where Butler Yard is & the Oak Creek plant & the distance between them. My main question is, can the Oak Creek power plant yard hold an entire 3 mile train? If not, where would they park the cars that don’t fit?

  14. John – Butler Yard, the ex-CNW terminal for Milwaukee County, is about 20 miles PAST Oak Creek power plant. Can’t say now but when I lived in Wauwatosa 1997 to 2002 there would be light engine moves. Twenty miles for a fill-up then twenty miles back to take the empties back to Chicago.

    From Oak Creek the former CNW line goes through St. Francis junction then west across south side Milwaukee then north through West Allis and Wauwatosa. The south side of the yard is in ‘Tosa, the north side of the yard is in Milwaukee. Hampton Avenue (roughly but not exactly the city line between ‘Tosa and Milwaukee) bridges the yard at midpoint and has sidewalks on both sides to see the action to the south or the north.

    None of the yard is in Butler which is a small village to the west in Waukesha County. There’s a CNW caboose on display at the Butler Public Library.

  15. Well it looks like they found out yesterday in Iowa how long it would take to walk one. Oak Creek was redone a couple of years back, and there is now one (maybe two) loop track there. The train stays intact. Whether it can hold a 3 mile job or they would split one off I don’t know since it’s not my territory.

  16. Dennis; there would almost certainly be crew savings here. If you’ve combined two trains into a single train, you have cut by half the number of crews required to move the train from the combination point to destination.

    As to the car utilization; the reporting marks on these cars were private and the Class 1’s really don’t give a flip about private car utilization beyond not wanting them all sitting around on Class 1 tracks.

    One thing I am curious about and hopefully someone with experience in railroad MOW will respond but; would there be increased maintenance costs associated with regularly running unit trains of this length? You have 15,000 feet of loaded cars – all the same length and essentially the same gross weight. Would the repetitive rhythmic rise and fall of the rail structure under such a train accelerate deterioration of either the rail or underlying structure in any manner?

  17. The people who make the decision to run trains this big have no idea how long it would take remedy a problem. They should have to walk some ballast carrying a wrench and air hose plus radio. Did it many times over 35 yrs on the BN, Not too bad between Savanna and Lacrosse, double track so you had flat walking for the most part.

  18. John – Walking the ballast as you say – One appreciates what railroads are made of when one bike-rides a trail that was once a railroad. The side slopes are steep, steeper than highway side slopes which are designed for a smooth runout of an errant automobile. The brush is thick and dangerous, the tripping hazards are constant. Add in several feet of snow. Even without snow, walking a hundred feet is challenging. A thousand feet would exhaust just about anybody.Three miles? No thanks.

  19. UP’s coal train reminded me of Norfolk & Western’s 500 car coal train from Iaeger, WV to Portsmouth, OH on November, 15, 1967. It was powered by six EMD SD45 locomotives with three on the front and three remote ones 300 cars back. This was the final test in a series that also saw a 450 car train.

    This link contains many details:

    And this NS Facebook page account also has a picture:

  20. What happens if a nearly three mile long loaded train derails somewhere near the head end?

  21. This is way to long of a train, when it hits a RED signal how many crossing will it block and for how long , you want to tick a lot of people off and a lot of people stopping their daily commute to work and errands they have to do with or with out kids in the car , let alone FIRST RESPONDERS getting to an emergency , they cant get too . plus I know of no train yard that can fit this length of a train , and think of the number of times and man power it takes to dismantle and put together this long long long train . Go back to the regular size train it would be easier to handle and faster in and out of yards and crossings

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