Union Pacific's Bailey Yard, North Platte, Nebraska
Union Pacific's North Platte terminal may be giant, but when there's a new train arriving every 14 minutes, nothing dare linger too long.
May 18, 2010
|Dan Czech clearly remembers the first time he laid eyes on Union Pacific's Bailey Yard. "I flew out here at night. I looked out the window and said, 'That must be the city of North Platte.' They said, 'No, that's the rail yard.'" The young terminal manager, who once taught Navy SEALs how to parachute, was speechless. "We do in this yard what other railroads do in three to four terminals."|
Running this giant complex requires a city of 2,600 engineers, mechanics, welders, inspectors, and more. Its status as the "world's largest" railroad classification yard is well-known, but with a train bearing down on the terminal every 14 minutes, nothing dare sit on those 300-plus tracks for too long. If this yard starts to clog, problems will ripple out across the entire north half of the Union Pacific Railroad.
If Omaha, Neb., is the brains of Union Pacific, then Bailey Yard — 8 miles long and 2 miles wide — is the railroad's heart, pumping out 120 to 140 trains a day. It sits in the middle of a big "X," where traffic from Chicago and Kansas City comes together (feeding into the yard on a 108-mile, triple-track line across Nebraska), then fans out to Wyoming's coal fields or population centers on the Pacific Coast.
One out of 10 road freights run each day by the Union Pacific passes through Bailey Yard, either to be broken up and reclassified, or serviced, inspected, and sent on its way under schedules as tight as 90 minutes. Half the westbound coal trains get a fresh set of power before heading to the mines, and any ailing cars or locomotives are swapped out and nursed back to health. "Nobody says, 'What do we do next?'" says one track department employee.
Railroads included in this map:
To continue reading this story and view this Map of the Month you need to be a Trains magazine subscriber.
Subscribers have full access to our Map of the Month archive and many other great online benefits.
Already a subscriber? Simply log in or create an account below.
You are currently not logged in. This article is only available to Trains magazine subscribers.
Already a subscriber to Trains magazine?
If you are already a subscriber to Trains magazine you must log into your account to view this article. If you do not have an account you will
need to register for one. Registration is FREE and only takes a couple minutes.
Non-subscribers, Subscribe TODAY and save!
Get instant access
to subscriber content on TrainsMag.com!
- Access Trains News Wire articles
- Access our photo of the day archive
- Participate in our online community
- Comment on articles
- Receive our e-mail newsletter
- Access our live railroading Web cam
- Manage your account online