Each of the Class I Railroads has hundreds of repair and maintenance shops spread across North America. These facilities can range from large shops for handling major locomotive repairs and rebuilds, down to medium- and small-sized sites for routine work.
Many shops are legacy assets of the various lines that combined to form today’s railroads. As such, maintenance and repair shops have sometimes been an afterthought for Class I Railroads. They may only spend between 3 to 5 percent of their capital budgets on service facilities. Indeed, some shops still use century-old cranes or other equipment. Spending on maintenance and repair shops might only take place when that equipment finally breaks.
However, waiting for equipment to break no longer works for Class I Railroads because they are under more pressure than ever to ensure their networks are operating efficiently. Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR) is prompting Class Is to use fewer locomotives, speed up transit times and reduce car dwell. New fuel-efficient engines require new types of repairs. Yard consolidations mean repair work done at one facility will have to be moved to another. Network changes and new customers mean Class I Railroads will have to be ready to quickly handle different kinds of freight. The upshot of these changes is that outdated service facilities can lead to locomotives sitting idle and railways losing business.