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Kirk Yard Expansion

Project Highlights 
  • Constructed 110,000 track feet
  • Constructed 12,000 track feet of rail upgrade
  • Installed 110 turnouts
  • Installed 106 AR2 inert retarders
  • Installed two E-160 retarders
  • Built and installed two #8-#10 lap switches
  • Performed 6,000 field welds (thermite and flash-butt)
Gary, Indiana
Canadian National Railway
Business Unit 
RailWorks Track Services
Project Description 

RailWorks performed track restoration and new track construction as part of CN’s $141 million expansion of its yard in Gary, Indiana.

Project Scope 

RailWorks constructed new track infrastructure to improve productivity and nearly double capacity of CN's Kirk Yard. Crews constructed 110,000 track feet of rail, upgraded 12,000 track feet of rail, and installed 110 turnouts, 106 AR2 inert retarders and two E-160 retarders.  It also built and installed two #8-#10 lap switches, and performed 6,000 Thermite and flash-butt field welds.

Adding classification, receiving and departure tracks fostered Kirk Yard’s ability to accommodate longer trains and also improved CN’s interchange with other railroads.  The project expanded capacity at Kirk Yard from 1,500 to 2,500 cars a day. 

Work was performed from April 2011 through December 2011 and March 2012 through December 2012.

Unique Features 

All work was completed in a fully integrated hump yard that processes 1,500 cars per day, throughout the day, year-round.  All outage work had to be highly coordinated with CN’s transportation, signals and maintenance-of-way groups.  On two occasions, RailWorks crews removed and replaced a mile of track and eight turnouts in a nine-day outage, to create a “bowl effect” to slow rail cars before they encounter the retarders for a new hump-yard group.  During another outage, to raise the yard for a new hump-yard group, RailWorks removed 8,500 feet of track and five turnouts. They raised the grade by 3 feet and installed 7,000 feet of track and four turnouts.

Among the plants served by Kirk Yard is Gary Works, the largest of U.S. Steel’s manufacturing plants.  CN infrastructure improvements are making Kirk Yard its largest U.S. switching yard.