Racetrack pit-crews are helping the people working on the railroad make the trains run faster.
James Barnes with the Union Pacific Railroad says the racing support teams are a good example of fast, efficient work. “Much like the NASCAR pit crews who quickly and efficiently refuel, change tires and inspect their cars to remain competitive during a race, Union Pacific pit crews perform similar duties on trains up to 130 cars long,” Barnes says. He adds the project was created with input from Union Pacific employees.
The Union Pacific’s Bailey Yard is the railroad’s main repair center and the nation’s largest maintenance facility, and recently hosted professionals from NASCAR to see what the railroad can learn from the pit crews working on split-second deadlines. They cleaned out and inspected the cab of the locomotive, looked at some maintenance items and refueling. “Just about everything that happens on a NASCAR stock car will be performed on the locomotive, as well as the rail cars,” Barnes says. “The crew that trained our run-through employees are actual workers who’ve been trained to serve as pit crews for some of the NASCAR teams.”
Anybody who’s watched a race in the Busch or Verizon Cup leagues recently has seen the teams of workers in bright safety jumpsuits who swarm with amazing speed around a racecar to complete a tire change, refueling and other tasks in under half a minute. Barnes says the safety and efficiency planned into their routines will help improve the work of railyard repair crews. Union Pacific launched the “pit crew concept” a few months ago and hope to not only reduce the “dwell time” that trains spend in the rail yard, but also to be able to bring in, service, and send out 70 to 90 trains a day.