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Flipping the Bowl in Alyth Yard

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Most calls that come in on your drive home from work on the Friday before Labour Day long weekend are likely invites to BBQs and end-of-summer get togethers. but on Friday, August 31, 2018 the call received by many Calgary-based employees was not a request to grab a bag of ice on their way home.

Parminder Dodd, Extra Gang Foreman, standing in the snowy Alyth Classification yard.
Parminder Dodd, Extra Gang Foreman

Instead, It was a request to re-design the entire Classification yard in Alyth, by the end of the calendar year.

“The timeline in which we were able to build this yard is unheard of,” said Mark Redd, Senior Vice-President, Operations West Region when asked what makes the Alyth re-design project unique. “It went through many iterations, which focused on how to put this existing layout together in a way that reduces dwell times, improves the classification process, and overall, better serves our customers.”

It was an all-hands-on-deck effort, with crews working around-the-clock to prepare the worksite for this first-of-its-kind transformation for CP.

“The project was basically treated like an outage response with the way that all of the teams immediately came together to work towards a common goal,” said Neil Higgins, General Manager, Engineering Projects. “We were able to design, source material and construct the classification yard in an extremely compressed schedule. We now have a gravity yard that relies on grade changes to accelerate and slow down cars, as well as the effect of friction through curves to reduce car speed.”

Cory Shortridge, Signals and Communications Helper, standing in the snowy Alyth Classification yard.
Cory Shortridge, Signals and Communications Helper

Cory Shortridge, Signals and Communications Helper, was responsible for getting materials ready for the project. “Up until the beginning of November, I was getting materials ready and getting it to the crews. It wasn’t until part way through December that I was able to run the crane truck and be onsite facilitating the cable entry for the project.”

A combination of CP employees and contractors worked in shifts to keep the project moving. On any given day there were 70 maintenance employees, 20 signals and communications helpers and 50 contractors onsite.

“A group of contractors assisted with the troughing, a technique we have never used before, and making sure the ground was level,” said Shortridge. “After that, we came in and laid our power communication cables and dug sites for more than 70 wheel sensors. It was more cable than I have ever installed in my life.”

Parminder Dodd, Extra Gang Foreman, eluded to all three of CP’s values when he described the team that was responsible for working on the project, and how their efforts resulted in a yard that the entire company can be proud of. “My team consisted of new and experienced employees, and they all brought something different to the table,” he explained. “Strong communication and holding people accountable was key to finishing this work safely. I think we built something that everyone at CP can be proud of.”

“Strong communication and holding people accountable was key to finishing this work safely. I think we built something that everyone at CP can be proud of.” – Parminder Dodd, Extra Gang Foreman

With the ability to clear the yard in an impressive 12 hours, Alyth Yard now allows for more dynamic switching with its 22 classification tracks. Employees, customers and shareholders should all feel confident in CP’s ability to optimize assets and continue to improve the fluidity of our network.

A series of four images of the Alyth Classification yard as the re-design was carried out.

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