Train Makeup

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Railroads define various restrictions on train makeup. These can be attributes of the entire train - length, weight, HP per Ton - or on the arrangement of locomotives and cars within a train.



Description Length (ft) Distance (ft) between DP consists
Non-DPU 10,000
One DPU consist, Intermodal 10,000
One DPU consist, other 8,500
Multiple DPU consists 13,000 6,500 between each consist


Trains are limited in power by Rated Powered Axles (RPA). BNSF system instructions (as of 2010) allow for two possible DPU configurations:

  • One DPU consist, at least halfway through the train (including placement at the rear-end)
  • Two DPU consists, with one mid-train consist (within 20 cars of the middle of the train), and one rear-end consist.

When using DPU, the total Rated Powered Axles of the leading consist cannot exceed the RPA of remote consists by more than 16.

Empty bulk trains are limited to a maximum of 9000 HP, and at least one locomotive must be active in each DP consist, meaning that empty bulk trains running with DP must have one locomotive active at the head end, and one active at the rear.

Description Head end RPA Mid train RPA Rear end RPA
Intermodal 48 24 16
Manifest 42 24 16
Empty Bulk 16 8 8
Loaded Bulk 32 40 24

Rated Powered Axle listing

Locomotive RPA
All SW/GP units not otherwise listed 4
GP60M / GP60B 5
All SD units not otherwise listed 6
SD60 / SD60M 7
SD70M 7
SD75M 7
C40-8 7
C44-9W 8
ES44DC 8
AC440CW 8
ES44AC 8
ES44C4 8?
SD70ACe 8

HP per Ton

Southern Transcon, East

On the Southern Transcon, trains east of Clovis, NM should be regulated to (i.e. must not exceed) the following maximum HP/Ton limits:

Train Symbol HP/T
Z, section numbers 7-9 3.0
Z, section numbers 1-6 2.5
Q, S, H, or M 2.0

On most sections of line, these limits are very generous, and trains can run at much lower HP/T ratings - although high priority Z trains do often run at or near these limits.

Additional units are routinely carried UIT on westbound trains in preparation for steeper grades west of Clovis, or having been set UIT after passing Clovis eastbound.

Southern Transcon, West

West of Clovis, trains must meet a minimum of 1.4 HP per Ton.

Cajon Pass

Trains proceeding over Cajon Pass must meet the following restrictions:

Train Description HP/T Cajon Westbound HP/T Cajon Eastbound Tons Cajon Westbound Tons Cajon Eastbound
DP Intermodal 1.8 2.3
DP Coal 1.8 2.3
DP Other 1.8 2.3
Intermodal 2.0 2.5 11,500 8,500
Coal 2.0 2.5 11,500 8,500
Other 2.0 2.5 8,500 6,500



The Western region is defined as all lines west of Winnipeg, and the Eastern region as all lines east of there.

Intermodal trains 111, 112, 114, and 115 are specially excepted from Eastern Region rules, following Western Region rules instead.

Manifest trains between Winnipeg and Toronto are occasionally permitted to exceed the 8,500ft length limitation, though siding length restrictions prevent all trains from exceeding this limit.

Description Length (ft), Western Region Length (ft), Eastern Region Length (ft), US South Region Maximum distance (ft) between DPU consists
Non-DPU Intermodal 10,500 10,000 10,500
Non-DPU manifest 10,500 8,500 (see exceptions above) 10,500
DPU Intermodal 16,000 10,000 (see exceptions above) 12,000 11,200
DPU Manifest 11,750 8,500 (see exceptions above) 10,500 10,500


Each locomotive consist may contain up to 18 powered axles.

HP per Ton

The Western region is defined as all lines west of Winnipeg, and the Eastern region as all lines east of there.

Description Minimum HP/T, Western Region Minimum HP/T, Eastern Region Minimum HP/T, US South Region
Intermodal 0.6 1.0 0.8
Manifest 0.45 0.75 0.75

Note that higher restrictions may apply on steeply graded routes.



The maximum distance between the head-end locomotives and the rear-most DP consist is 10,000 feet.


A train may have up to 3 DP consists throughout the train. Consists are limited by Equivalent Driving Axles (EA). A "Heavy Bulk" train is defined as one where all cars exceed 100 tons and are 65 ft or less in length.

Description Head end EA Mid train EA Rear end EA
Standard 24 24 12
Heavy Bulk 30 24 12

On conventional (non-DP) trains and Heavy Bulk trains, up to 30 axles may used on the head end on the following routes:

  • Vancouver, BC to Montreal, QC
  • Calgary, AB to Edmonton, AB
  • Dunmore, AB - Lethbridge, AB - Sparwood, BC - Fort Steele, BC - Kingsgate, ID
  • Fort Steele, BC - Golden, BC
  • Moose Jaw, SK - Portal, ND

On all other routes cleared for 6-axle power, only 24 axles may be used. On routes cleared for only 4-axle power, only 16 axles may be used.

When carrying locomotives dead in tow, the total number of locomotives in a consist must not exceed 8.

Equivalent Driving Axle listing

Locomotive Equivalent Axles, without PTC/QEG Equivalent Axles, with PTC/QEG Haulage Rating, without PTC/QEG Haulage Rating, with PTC/QEG
GP7u 4 4 1000 1000
GP9u 4 4 1000 1000
GP38 4 5 1000 1300
GP40 4 4 1000 1000
SD40 6 7 1500 1790
SD60 8 8 2000 2000
AC4400CW 9 12 2220 2950
SD70MAC 9 12 2220 2950
SD70ACe 9 12 2220 2950
SD90MAC 9 12 2220 2950

GP7u and GP9u units may only operate in multiple with each other, and not any other class of locomotive.

Weight / HP per Ton

CP calculates weight / HP per Ton limits based on Haulage Rating (varies by locomotive) and Haulage Factor (varies by subdivision).

The limit is calculated by:

  1. Sum the Haulage Rating of all locomotives. If the train does not have DP, this value is capped at 7500 in 30 driving axle territory, and 7160 in 24 driving axle territory, even if the available locomotives exceed it.
  2. Find the ruling Haulage Factor of the subdivision/route
  3. Multiply 1 by 2 to get the maximum weight in tons

Haulage Ratings

Locomotive Haulage Rating, without PTC/QEG Haulage Rating, with PTC/QEG
GP7u 1000 1000
GP9u 1000 1000
GP38 4 5 1000 1300
GP40 1000 1000
SD40 1500 1790
SD60 2000 2000
AC4400CW 2220 2950
SD70MAC 2220 2950
SD70ACe 2220 2950
SD90MAC 2220 2950

Haulage Capacities

The following values are the limiting factors across the whole subdivision. HP/T values are computed for 6-axle AC locomotives.

These values are dated to the early/mid 2000s, and are possibly to be overestimates of modern HP/T values for DP trains.

Subdivision Start End Haulage Factor HP/T
Cascade Vancouver, BC North Bend, BC 1.92 0.8
Thompson North Bend, BC Kamloops, BC 2.15 0.7
Shuswap Kamloops, BC Revelstoke, BC 1.58 1.0
Mountain Revelstoke, BC Field, BC 0.83 1.8
Windermere Golden, BC Fort Steele, BC 2.72 0.6
Cranbrook Cranbrook, BC (Fort Steele, BC) Crowsnest, BC 1.6 1.0
Fording River Sparwood, BC Fording, BC (Downgrade for loaded trains)
Moyie Cranbrook, BC Kingsgate, ID 1.75 0.9
Nelson Curzon, BC (Jct Moyie Sub) Nelson, BC 1.6 1.0
Boundary Nelson, BC Castlegar, BC 1.9 0.8
Rossland Castlegar, BC Trail, BC 0.5 3.0
Laggan Field, BC Calgary, AB 0.83 (EB), 2.03 (WB) 1.8 (EB), 0.8 (WB)
Brooks Calgary, AB Medicine Hat, AB 1.68 0.9
Maple Creek Medicine Hat, AB Swift Current, SK 1.88 (EB), 3.2 (WB), 0.8 (EB), 0.5 (WB)
Aldersyde Lethbridge, AB Calgary, AB 2.4 0.7
Taber Lethbridge, AB Dunmore, AB (Jct Maple Creek Sub) 2.0 0.8
Montana Lethbridge, AB Sweet Grass, MT 1.6 0.9
Crowsnest Crowsnest, BC Lethbridge, AB 1.77 1.0
Red Deer Calgary, AB Red Deer, AB 1.85 0.8
Leduc Red Deer, AB Edmonton, AB 2.2 0.7
Wetaskiwin Hardisty, AB Wetaskiwin, AB (Jct Leduc Sub) 1.9 0.8
Scotford Edmonton, AB Scotford, AB 3.2 0.5
Brandon Broadview, SK Brandon, MB 3.2 0.5
Carberry Brandom, MB Winnipeg, MB 6.0 (EB), 2.8 (WB) 0.3 (EB), 0.6 (WB)
Bredenbury Bredenbury, SK Minnedosa, MB 1.52 (EB), 1.1 (WB) 1.0 (EB), 1.4 (WB)
Minnedosa Minnedosa, MB Portage La Prairie, MB 1.7 0.9
Kenora Winnipeg, MB Kenora, ON 3.3 0.5
Ignace Kenora, ON Ignace, ON 3.3 0.5
Emerson Winnipeg, MB Noyes, MN 5.0 0.3
La Riviere Winnipeg, MB La Riviere, MB 1.72 0.9
Kaministiquia Ignace, ON Thunder Bay, ON 3.3 (EB), 1.9 (WB) 0.5 (EB), 0.8 (WB)
Nipigon Thunder Bay, ON Schreiber, ON 1.7 0.9
Heron Bay Schreiber, ON White River, ON 1.7 0.9
White River White River, ON Chapleau, ON 1.7 0.9
Nemegos Chapleau, ON Cartier, ON 1.7 0.9
Cartier Cartier, ON Coniston (Sudbury), ON 1.66 0.9
Parry Sound Romford (Sudbury), ON Mactier, ON 3.15 0.5
Mactier Toronto, ON Mactier, ON 2.30 0.7
Windsor Detroit, MI London, ON 1.76 0.9
Galt London, ON Toronto, ON 3.20 (EB), 1.70 (WB) 0.5 (EB), 0.9 (WB)
Belleville Toronto, ON Smiths Falls, ON 2.10 (EB), 2.90 (WB) 0.7 (EB), 0.5 (WB)
Hamilton Guelph Jct, ON (Jct Galt Sub) Niagara Falls, ON 1.83 (EB), 0.90 (WB) 0.8 (EB), 1.7 (WB)
Winchester Smiths Falls, ON Dorion, QC 3.20 0.5
Vaudreuil Dorion, QC Montreal, QC 3.14 0.5


Train Length and Weight

Network-wide restrictions for train length and weight are as follows:


Attribute Intermodal Manifest Bulk Automotive
Length (ft) 12,000 10,000 10,000 10,000
Weight (tons) 14,000 14,000 18,000 10,000


Attribute Intermodal Manifest Bulk Automotive
Length (ft) 14,000 12,000 12,000 14,000
Weight (tons) 16,000 20,000 24,000 14,000

DP units must be no further than 7,000 feet from the head end of the train.

These limits may be further reduced on a local basis by siding infrastructure or other local restrictions, and may be exceeded by specially designated trains or with special approval.



DPU consists must not be separated by more than 8,500 ft.

In manifest trains, 50-75% of the train's tonnage must be ahead of mid-train DP consists. This limitation does not apply to trains received in interchange.

When ambient temperatures drop below 34F, a maximum train length if 10,000ft is recommended; further length reductions are recommended, down to 4,000ft below -16F. When a train has DP consists, this recommended length restriction applies to the maximum distance between any car and the nearest DP consist.


Trains are limited in power by equivalent conventional powered axles (EPA) as listed below (as of 2019). DC high-adhesion axles count as 1 1/3 conventional powered axles each, and AC powered axles count as 1 1/2 conventional powered axles each

Description Head end EPA Mid train EPA Rear end EPA
Standard 27 18 18
Loaded Coal 32 18 18, 24 where authorised
Loaded Bulk up to 100 cars 32 18 18, 24 where authorised
Loaded Bulk over 100 cars 27 18 18, 24 where authorised

Lead and DP consists must not differ by more than one locomotive - i.e. 3 locomotives leading and 1 DP locomotive is not permitted.

Equivalent Powered Axle listing

Locomotive EPA
All SW/GP units not otherwise listed 4
GP33ECO 5.33
GP59 / GP59E 5.33
GP60 5.33
SD60/SD60I/SD60M/SD60E 8
All SD units not otherwise listed 6
SD60E 8
SD70 / SD70M / SD70M-2 8
SD75M 8
C40-8 8
C40-9W 8
AC44C6M 9
ES44DC 8
ES44AC 9
ET44AC 9
SD70ACe 9
SD70ACe-T4 9
SD70ACu 9




Restrictions for train makeup east of Picacho AZ, Cheyenne WY, and Denver CO are as follows:

Description Length (ft) Distance (ft) between DP consists
Non-DPU 10,000
One DPU consist, Intermodal 15,000 10,000
One DPU consist, other 15,000 10,000
Multiple DPU consists 18,000 (15,000 if no rear DPU) 6,000
Autorack 10,000

Trains exceeding 60 loaded autoracks must place all autoracks at the rear of the train. Trains exceeding 80 loaded autoracks cannot contain more than 5 non-autorack cars.


Restrictions for train makeup west of Picacho AZ, Cheyenne WY, and Denver CO are as follows:

Description Length (ft) Distance (ft) between DP consists
Non-DPU 10,000
One DPU consist, Intermodal 15,000 10,000
One DPU consist, other 15,000 8,500
Multiple DPU consists 18,000 (15,000 if no rear DPU) 6,000 between each consist
Autorack 10,000

Trains containing 60 or more autoracks are limited to 80 cars.



West of North Platte, Denver, and El Paso, the following trailing tonnage/car placement restrictions apply:

Empty intermodal cars cannot have more than 4,500 tons of weight behind them in the train.

Loaded spine cars cannot have more than 5,500 tons of weight behind them in the train.


Trains are limited in power by equivalent powered axles (EPA). Where multiple mid-train DPU consists exist, each is limited separately. A table of EPA ratings is given underneath the EPA limits table, along with an approximate conversion for six-axle AC locomotives (AC4400CW, ES44AC, ES44AH, SD70MAC, SD70ACe, SD70AH, etc.) in the table itself.

Description Head end EPA Mid train EPA Rear end EPA Head end AC locomotives Mid train AC locomotives Rear end AC locomotives
Intermodal 62 48 24 5 4 2
Manifest 52 (36 if grade exceeds 1.9%) 48 24 4 (3) 4 2
Empty Bulk 52 (36 if grade exceeds 1.9%) 36 24 4 (3) 3 2
Loaded Bulk 52 (36 if grade exceeds 1.9%) 55 28 4 (3) 4 2

Local Restrictions

All trains processing over Cajon Pass are limited to 36 EPA.

Equivalent Powered Axle listing

Note that non-UP-owned ES44AC and ES44AH units may not be capable of CTE mode.

Locomotive EPA EPA, 5/6 traction motors EPA, 4/6 traction motors EPA, 3/6 traction motors EPA, remote consist in CTE mode EPA, remote CTE, 5/6 traction motors EPA, remote CTE, 4/6 traction motors EPA, remote CTE, 3/6 traction motors
C40-8, C40-8W 7.8
C41-8, C41-8W 10.1
C44-9, C44-9W 11.5
ES40DC 10.1
ES44DC 11.5
SW1500 3.7
MP15 4.0
GP9 4.0
GP15-1 3.9
GP22 5.1
GP38-2 4.5
GP39-2 4.5
GP40-2 5.0
GP50 6.5
GP60 8.0
SD38-2 5.4
SD40-2, SD40N, SD30Eco 7.1
SD45 7.0
SD50 9.2
SD59MX 7.1
SD60, SD60M 9.9
SD70, SD70M 10.4
SD75 10.3
C44AC, C44/60AC, C44ACCCA, C6044AC 12.1 11.0 8.0 6.0
C44ACCTE, C45ACCTE, C45AH, C44ACM, ES44AC, ES44AH 12.1 11.0 11.0 8.0 6.0
CW60AC 12.1 12.0 11.0 8.0
SD70MAC 10.4 6.0
SD70ACe, SD70AH 12.0 7.0 11.0
SD70AH-T4 12.0 12.0 12.0 9.0 11.0
SD9043AC 11.6 7.0

HP per Ton

UP expresses train limits as TPA, or Tons per Powered Axle. These can be approximately translated to HP/Ton limits - the numbers below assume AC units at 4400 HP and 12.1 EPA.

Location Minimum TPA Minimum HP/T
Cascade Subdivision (Eugene OR - Klamath Falls OR) 170 2.1 (summer), 2.4 (winter)
Donner Pass, west slope 165 2.2
Tehachapi Pass, west slope 188 1.9

Trains over Cajon Pass must meet BNSF HP/T minimums.