Union Pacific Railroad’s Bailey Yard in North Platte, Nebraska, is the largest railroad classification yard in the world. It was named in honor of former Union Pacific President Edd H. Bailey.
This massive yard covers 2,850 acres, reaching a total length of eight miles, well beyond the borders of North Platte, a community of 25,000 citizens. Put end-to-end, Bailey Yard’s 315 miles of track would reach from North Platte in western Nebraska east past Omaha on the Iowa border along the Missouri River.
Every 24 hours, Bailey Yard handles 10,000 railroad cars. Of those, 3,000 are sorted daily in the yard’s eastward and Golden Spike Tower overlooking Bailey Yard’s westward yards, nicknamed “hump” yards. Using a mound cresting 34 feet for eastbound trains and 20.1 feet for those heading west, these two hump yards allow four cars a minute to roll gently into any of 114 “bowl” tracks where they become part of trains headed for dozens of destinations. Together, these two yards have 18 receiving and 16 departure tracks.
Train operations and repair shops at Bailey Yard are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The fueling and service center processes more than 9,000 locomotives each month, using technology like overhead cranes and elevated work bays to maintain fluid operations.
On-site Car Repair
The on-site car repair facility annually replaces 10,000 pairs of wheels, many identified through an in-motion defect detector using ultrasound technology to inspect the wheel. This detector was developed by Union Pacific and is the only one in the world. Some wheel repairs even take place without the rail car ever leaving the track, minimizing down time.
You can get a birds-eye view of all of the action at Union Pacific’s Bailey Yard from either the seventh or eighth floor viewing platforms at the Golden Spike Tower and Visitor Center.