Union Pacific Railroad adopts automated weather advisory system

by Canadian Shipper

Union Pacific Railroad has implemented an automated weather advisory system created by DTN Weather Services. DTN Weather Alert is an advance warning system which distributes real-time weather data across the railroad’s operation.

“With nearly 2500 trains running daily across approximately 39,000 miles of track in 23 states, the ability to briefly delay trains threatened by inclement weather is a huge benefit to Union Pacific. A weather-related accident involving a moving train can be ten times more costly than one involving a stationary train. The quick, automated alert dissemination process has already saved us millions of dollars,” says Kevin Crowe, manager of Systems Development and Support at Union Pacific.

DTN Weather Services developed the GIS-based system, which provides automated DTN weather data and enables Union Pacific to monitor specific areas of track for precise inclement weather conditions such as high winds greater that 50 miles per hour, temperature extremes, torrential rains, flash floods and tornadoes. When such conditions occur, an automated warning is immediately sent to a Union Pacific dispatcher for a specific area of track. The dispatcher must respond to the alert in a short period of time and ultimately stop of delay the train before a weather-induced accident can occur.

Scripts and geographic descriptions for all of Union Pacific’s tracks went into a GIS database along with precide, predetermined weather conditions that cause train derailment.

Magenic, which developed the technology for Union Pacific’s tracks, packaged text information describing specific events along with an image of the affected area into an XML document. In turn, the system automatically pinpoints the affected region, queries the track shapes data for an intersection, and, using Microsoft SQL Server and Message Quque technology, transports the messages to the appropriate dispatchers in affected areas.

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