• Operation of yard next to automobile plant

  • General discussion about railroad operations, related facilities, maps, and other resources.
General discussion about railroad operations, related facilities, maps, and other resources.

Moderator: Robert Paniagua

  by bobmayo56

I’m curious about the logistics of how railways operate at automobile factories, in particular how things operated at the old NUMMI factory in Fremont, California . This was an old GM & Toyota plant, and is now the Tesla factory. The Union Pacific Warm Springs yard is right next to the plant. (See google map at https://goo.gl/maps/qhsHqJgU3SK2" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; )

It appears that the plant was set up so that UP could push or pull four 89-foot autoracks at a time. The plant supposedly could produce just under 500,000 vehicles per year, or 1 every 47.5 seconds if operated 50 weeks per year, 22 hours per day, 6 days per week. If all these were sent by rail, that would require that 4 empty autoracks be pushed and 4 full ones be pulled every 31 minutes. The plant itself appears to have had 13 docks where the autoracks could be loaded.

There’s a yard next to the plant with 15 tracks, each with room for 10 to 27 autoracks. I assume this is where the output of the factory would be stored, but I’m not sure. Can anyone confirm this? There are also four longer tracks right next to the mainline that could hold about 41 autoracks each. There are two other tracks that seem to be set up to help in moving cars around, rather than for storing cars.

Would the loaded autoracks be pulled into the yard and stored on the shorter tracks? Would UP do the pulling or would NUMMI be allowed to (so they could keep to schedule)?

I imagine that trains arriving on the mainline with 41 empty autoracks could deliver to one of the longer tracks near the mainline, and then leave with 41 full autoracks pulled from one of the other longer tracks. This would have to be done approximately every 5 hours. Is that how it would work?

If this was the case, would smaller railcar movers be used to move cars between the storage yard and the mainline pickup & drop-off tracks?

Or would operations proceed in some other manner? Could they drop-off and pickup up 82 autoracks at a time, using all 4 of the longer tracks (2 for drop-off of 82 empties, and 2 for pickup of 82 full ones? This would require blocking the mainline briefly while they connected or disconnected.

Is there likely a capacity limit on the UP mainline near Warm Springs? For instance, could they run hourly trains if they wanted to, to transport 5 times the number of cars? Do railroads have complete control over their operations or are they subject to local city laws regarding hours of operation and number of trains?

Where would trains go when they leave Warm Springs? Oakland seems to be a main route, but there is also a route up Niles Canyon towards Livermore. Is the Niles Canyon route used for freight much? There’s also a southbound route through San Jose and along the coast down to Los Angeles. Would that be used too?

Thanks for your input. I’m new at this so anything I can learn is appreciated.

  by Backshophoss
UP would have at least 1 to 3 shifts of switch crews working the Autorack loading yard as needed,pulling loaded racks and
placing empty racks to load,also placing and pulling boxcars full of parts needed to build the vehicles.
Tesla's Battery factory near Los Vegas Nv will be shipping the batteries via rail to Warm Springs.
As Auto Plants in general have little warehouse space for parts storage,most parts arrive by truck and are unloaded
as the production line uses the parts,refered to as "Just in Time"(aka "JIT"),if parts are late,the production line
SHUTS DOWN!(very expensive $$$$)
The same with rail deliveries of Sheet Metal parts,hoods,doors,frames,and Batteries(in Tesla's case)
if the boxcar is late,the production line SHUTS DOWN!!
  by bobmayo56
Thanks for the information. I assume US railroads are not set up to meet precise delivery dates and times?

  by Backshophoss
The Automotive market ranks #2 behind intermodal service on the class 1 RR's in customer service.
They are major customers. :-)