Conrail's automation mission close to completion at New Jersey yard

Conrail’s Pavonia Yard in Camden, N.J., is the only flat switching yard in North America that employs true one-person remote-control operations, without any assistance from utility field personnel, the railroad claims. Plus, the 1.5-mile-long facility now is the only yard that employs wireless GPS devices to monitor all static and mobile assets in real time, Conrail leaders say.

The yard has undergone a metamorphosis over the past five years that included a thorough physical redesign of the traditional electro-pneumatic gravity hump and re-engineering of the yard’s processes. With the project close to completion, Pavonia operates with significantly higher productivity, lower safety risks and fewer assets, and meets service requirements with less variability, according to Conrail.

Ultimately the railroad’s leaders realized Conrail wouldn’t generate more volume growth at the yard with single-car switching. That led to launching the $5.3 million makeover project in 2012.

To learn more about Pavonia Yard and Conrail’s efforts to automate it, read my article in the April issue. And feel free to use the comment section below to share any thoughts or examples on railroads’ attempts to employ more automation.

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