ON AUGUST 24 Union Pacific announced that it had completed the triple-tracking of its original main line across Nebraska between Gibbon and North Platte. Upgrading the 174 route-km to accommodate up to 140 trains per day running at 113 km/h has cost $327m.

UP’s Central Corridor is a key link between the West Coast and rail hubs in Chicago, Kansas City, the Gulf Coast and the eastern USA. Since the early 1990s it has also been handling high volumes of coal traffic from the Powder River basin in Wyoming. ’This is truly a crown jewel in our franchise,’ said UP Chairman & Chief Executive Officer Dick Davidson.

UP described the four-year phased construction programme as ’one of the biggest railway construction jobs in modern US history.’ All three tracks have been spread far enough apart to allow normal train operations even when one is out of service for maintenance.

The work included installation of 280000 concrete sleepers, 350 km of head-hardened rail and 350000 tonnes of ballast. Remotely-controlled crossovers with high speed turnouts link the tracks at regular intervals for flexible operation, and speed-sensitive gates have been installed at all level crossings.