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Erik's Rail News

Union Pacific still in a jam

There have been articles in this spot about congestion on the UPRR since early October. Here comes another, and there may be more.

Average train speed on UPs network was 12,3 mph in the first week of this year, compared to 17,9 mph a year ago, and only marginally faster than the 11 mph reported early in November. The number of cars on the network was 340 142 in this year's first week, 30 000 more than can efficiently purveyed.

UP blames unexpected crew shortages over the holidays for the slowdown. As crews have received extra pay for overtime during the whole fall, they are not keen for more work. UP has hired 450 people recently, and 500 more should join the company this year.

The gravity and longevity of the situation has defied two important measures against it. In September, the equipment and crews of Union Pacific were operationally pooled with those of Southern Pacific, which UP bought in 1996. And in November, the Surface Transportation Board let other railroads run trains over UP tracks, so they could help pull cars off UP's network.

Another crash was added to the long list of 1997 accidents at the "last minute": On December 30th, 24 cars of a 116-car Union Pacific train heading to San Antonio from Houston derailed. No-one was injured and there were no leaks or fires.

We want to hear your two cents worth abou this. How can such a proud railroad mess things up so badly? And why is it taking so long to clean up the mess? Tell us what you think on the Rail News Forum.

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