Union Pacific Steam Fleet and PTC

What is UP going to do about the upcoming Positive Train Control requirement for their steam fleet? Will they install the technology on the equipment or use a trailing/backup diesel? I'd hate to see a diesel behind the Big Boy just for PTC (or for anything else). I'm aware that some groups are planning on installing it into their locomotives, like the FWRHS with NKP 765, some are planning on using a trailing diesel, like NMSL&RHS with ATSF 2926, and some are completely silent on it, like the UP Program.


"With a diesel, it's another train; with a steam locomotive, it's a happening!" - Walt Disney

Original Post

PTC has to be in the lead engine. A diesel behind the steamer won’t cut it. There is no provision in the rules that would allow this. It totally defeats the purpose if the PTC gear is not in the operating locomotive.

The entire main line steam industry is working on this problem. However, the technology is far from being finalized, so the steam guys have taken a wait and see approach to this. Meetings have been held and there is collaboration going on among the main line steam operators, 765, 611, 261, 4449, etc.

Since Union Pacific has a lot of resources the other guys don’t have, they may go their own way and not work with the rest of the industry on this. That would not surprise me at all.

Rich Melvin


As Rich stated above, the various groups have been working closely with the FRA, and some "concessions" to the elaborate PTC requirements have already been agreed to by FRA.

That said, the UP steam locomotives were/are already fully equipped with the UP cab signal equipment, as well as the former C&NW ATC system. 

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