CSE498, Collaborative Design, Spring 2022
Computer Science and Engineering
Michigan State University

Union Pacific, founded in 1862, is now the leading railroad transportation company in North America. With over 32,200 miles of track, 8,300 locomotives, and 43,000 employees, Union Pacific plays a major role in the transit of goods throughout the nation.

Derailments cost transportation companies millions every year due to missed deliveries, additional employee time, and equipment repairs. Union Pacific uses simulations to analyze such incidents and diagnose causes. These simulations record data, such as speed and buff/draft forces, and this information is output as a raw data file.

Our Railroad Data Visualization tool provides a web-based user interface that converts a simulation’s raw data file into clean, readable, and intuitive visualizations. These interactive graphs aid in the analysis of derailment simulations.

After a simulation is completed, the raw data file is uploaded to our system via a menu on our web page. A user can also select to view a historical data visualization set instead.

Our platform produces animated graphs that visualize train elevation, as well as buff/draft forces between cars over time. Users can control the animation through buttons on the page’s toolbar.

Using our system, Union Pacific employees can more quickly and accurately determine the cause of derailments and accidents, in addition to predicting future incidents, saving Union Pacific valuable time and money.

Our Railroad Data Visualization software system has a front-end web user interface that uses the Angular framework, along with the Plotly visualization library. Our web application is also written in TypeScript and HTML. Our back end is written in Java, built around a Spring framework, and stores data in an Oracle MySQL database. The front end and back end communicate with each other via a REST API.