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<< Rail News Home: Mechanical

5/3/2005    Mechanical

Rail News: Mechanical

UP to expand program that rewards engineers for reducing fuel usage

Rising fuel costs were the major culprit in Union Pacific Railroad’s higher first-quarter operating expenses, which rose 10 percent to $2.8 billion compared with first-quarter 2004. The Class I consumes about 3.25 million gallons of diesel fuel daily.

To rein in fuel costs, UP is expanding “Fuel Masters,” a diesel conservation program under which the railroad rewards engineers’ fuel-saving efforts with $50 cards that can be used to purchase gasoline for their personal vehicle.

UP managers compare an engineer’s monthly fuel consumption performance against fellow engineers in the same territory and use a
one- to two-month snapshot of each engineer's fuel consumption performance to calculate individual average consumption rates. Managers then group engineers by pool or specific run to eliminate variances, such as flat vs. hilly terrain. Each month, engineers in the top 10 percent to 15 percent of each pool receive a gasoline card.

More than 1,000 engineers on 12 routes in Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri will participate in the Fuel Masters program.

In April 2004, UP introduced a “Fuel for Fuel” program in Nebraska, which has helped decrease fuel consumption 10 percent on runs between North Platte and South Morrill. Other locations piloting the program have cut fuel usage between 5 percent and 8 percent.

In addition to the programs, UP managers provide engineers a fuel conservation help sheet offering tips to improve fuel usage. In some locations, engineers work on simulators to receive instruction on fuel saving techniques or obtain counseling on diesel saving methods from engineer peer trainers who’re the top performers in their pool.

“[We’re trying] to find new ways to stretch a gallon of diesel or employ the latest technology to cut locomotive emissions,” said Wayne Kennedy, director of UP’s Six Sigma program, in a prepared statement.

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