Friday, December 12, 2008

UP's Z-Train

In Union Pacific parlance, a "Z-train" historically means a priority train consisting of time-sensitive commodities, usually TOFC (trailer on flatcar) or single/double-stack (intermodal) well cars. Here, well cars carry single-stack containers (click on photo to enlarge).

This Z-train is rather unusual insofar as it is fronted by UP 4579, an EMD SD-70M with 4,000 hp and followed by two other EMD SD-70s. A pure EMD consist is extremely rare indeed.

Caught at milepost 148 on the number one (westbound) track, you can see it's about to hit the detector ahead. Note the flaps spanning the width of the track. This detector can sense dragging equipment, hot boxes and locked wheels and axles.

Freight speed is generally limited on the number one (downhill) track to 25 mph; it is easy to hear traction motors howling in dynamic braking. Engineers run about 10 pounds of air in the brake pipes downhill.

A brief note about single- and double-stack containers over Donner Pass: UP can only run single-stack containers on the Number One and Number Two tracks, as its older Transcontinental Railroad tunnels are insufficiently tall. UP would have dug down into these tunnels in order to accommodate double-stack, but met resistance by enviros who objected to the alleged "ruination" of these historical tunnels.

Therefore, east/west northern California UP double-stack traffic must run over the Feather River (formerly Western Pacific) route instead of Donner -- but this adds another 70 miles to the journey. Therefore UP would rather run double-stack over Donner and save mileage but cannot yet do so.

That is why you will only see single-stack intermodal Z-train traffic over Donner Pass on the Roseville Subdivision.



Bushwack said...

Well you got the hang of your side bar links.. Look out world BZ is fast approaching MASTER in the game of html.

Beware my friend they change the rules often and never tell you before hand. LOL

Milepost 154 said...

Oh yeah, right. But anyway, THANKS so much for your help with this Bushwack! Makes the blog look SO much better, sir!


Z said...
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