Union Pacific to idle another yard hump, this time in Texas

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Union Pacific will close the hump at Davidson Yard in Fort Worth, shown in November 2008, according to a company memo.
Steve Schmollinger

OMAHA, Neb. – Union Pacific plans to idle the hump at Davidson Yard in Fort Worth, Texas, this month, the fifth such move since the railroad adopted a Precision Scheduled Railroading operating model.

Davidson will be converted to a flat-switching facility on Jan. 22, according to an internal UP memo sent to employees in the Fort Worth area. About half of the yard’s current volume will be parceled out among nine smaller terminals in the Texoma Service Unit in Texas and Oklahoma.

An unspecified number of jobs would be cut at Davidson but would be added at the smaller yards as part of the plan to wind down hump operations in Fort Worth.

UP would not confirm the authenticity of the memo. A spokeswoman declined to comment, citing the quiet period before the railroad’s earnings are released on Jan. 23. But she said the railroad continues to seek ways to streamline its network and improve safety and efficiency, including at Davidson Yard.

Davidson currently originates about road 15 trains per day and is the destination for about 17 merchandise trains per day, not including locals.

The yard was built by the former Texas & Pacific more than a century ago. Missouri Pacific renamed the facility Centennial Yard in 1971 in a nod to the T&P’s 100th anniversary. UP renamed it Davidson Yard in 2007 upon the retirement of then-CEO Dick Davidson.

UP has idled the humps at Neff Yard in Kansas City, Mo.; Proviso Yard in Chicago; Hinkle, Ore; and Pine Bluff, Ark., since launching its Unified Plan 2020 in October 2018.

Under its shift to a Precision Scheduled Railroading operating model, UP is reducing its reliance on major terminals by pre-blocking traffic at origin, having road trains perform more work en route, and doing more block-swapping.

The goal, UP officials have said, is to move traffic faster, more efficiently, and more consistently.

The railroad’s key performance metrics — including average train speed, terminal dwell, and the average number of miles cars travel per day — have generally improved under the new operating plan. Car and intermodal trip-plan compliance, which measure on-time performance, also have risen significantly.

The railroad last year also paused construction of a new $550 million hump yard, Brazos Yard, that was under construction near Hearne, Texas. Funding for Brazos was diverted to new and extended sidings west of El Paso, Texas, to enable the Sunset Route to handle longer trains between California and Santa Teresa, N.M., just over the border from El Paso.

This year UP will build eight new sidings and extend 34 others across its system, with most of the projects scheduled for east of El Paso on its Golden State, Texas & Pacific, and Sunset routes.

The projects will enable UP to efficiently operate trains up to 15,000 feet in length on the Golden State to Topeka, Kan.; the T&P to Fort Worth and on to Shreveport, La.; and the Sunset Route to San Antonio and Houston.

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