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Rail yard wind fence is an industry first

Winter 2015

Bellevue_20141204

Some employees call Bellevue Yard the windiest place in the world. To combat prevailing westerly winds that sometimes disrupt humping activity, NS has hired an environment-control firm to install wind fences at the yard.

The durable fabric fences will rise 24 to 48 feet above the rail surface. The company assures NS that the fences will knock down wind speed by 50 percent, reducing a 30 mph wind to 15 mph at the hump.

It will be the first time a railroad has tried using fences to block wind in a hump yard, said John LeStrange, director terminal operations.

“We hump right into the prevailing wind at Bellevue, and there are days when the wind will blow cars backwards out of a class track,” LeStrange said. “You have to stop humping and send an engine to push them into the clear. These fences will dissipate the wind coming up toward the hump, and they should remove wind as a factor.”

The fence designer used computer simulation models of the yard to determine such things as the number of fences needed, where to place them, and fabric design. LeStrange said the fences should be installed around March. Fence poles will be secured in steel-reinforced concrete in 15-foot-deep holes about 4-feet in diameter.