Posts Tagged ‘Union Pacific’

UP Big Boy to Operate to Omaha Next Month

May 23, 2023

The Union Pacific Big Boy steam locomotive will return to operation on June 7 during a trip to Omaha, Nebraska.

The famed 4-8-8-4 locomotive is making the trip, which has been billed as the Home Run Express Tour, in conjunction with the NCAA baseball College World Series, which will be held in Omaha for 11 days between June 15-25.

During the baseball tournament the 4014 will be on display near the ball park hosting the games. UP said the locomotive will make several whistle stops en route from Cheyenne, Wyoming, where the Big Boy is based, to Omaha.

The locomotive will return to Cheyenne on July 3. The planned en route stops include: June 7: Albin and LaGrange, Wyoming, overnight in Gering, Nebraska; June 8: Broadwater and Lemoyne, overnight in North Platte; June 10: Cozad, Kearney and Grand Island; and June 1: Columbus and Fremont.

During the return trip stops are planned as follows: June 29: Fremont, Columbus and Grand Island; June 30: Overton and Gothenburg, overnight in North Platte; July 2: Ogallala and Chappell, overnight in Sidney; July 3: Kimball, Nebraska, and Pine Bluffs, Wyoming.

Carries Continue to Dispute STB Small Rates Rule

February 7, 2023

Four Class 1 railroads are continuing their efforts to get the U.S. Surface Transportation Board to modify the terms of an arbitration program regulators established to settle small rate cases.

CSX, Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific and the U.S. companies owned by Canadian National asked the STB to allow a carrier to file its opt-in notice of the program at any time.

The arbitration program being established by the STB requires all Class 1 carriers to agree to participate or the program won’t be in effect.

Regulators have given the carriers until Feb. 23 to agree or disagree to join. The carriers have been calling for additional time before they must make their decision.

The same carriers had last December asked the STB to stay implementation of the arbitration program but regulators rejected that request without prejudice on Jan. 24.

The STB established two rules regarding small rate cases in a rule making proceeding that was finished late last year.

Aside from the arbitration program, the STB established a final offer rate review mechanism for settling small rate disputes.

At the time the STB called the new rules an effort to streamline the process for shippers and railroads to resolve small rate disputes.

If all seven Class 1 railroads agree to join the arbitration program they will be exempt from the final offer rate review process for five years.

The carriers petitioning the STB in the latest filing contend the STB’s decision to set an opt-in deadline is unlawful because it fails “to give notice of its intent to impose this draconian measure; departed from contrary agency precedent without explanation; failed to provide legally sufficient justification for its action; and contradicted its own reasoning in the Final Rule that carriers needed to know the contents of the arbitration program before making a five-year commitment to it.”

CSX, CN Seek to Block New STB Rate Rule

January 11, 2023

CSX, Canadian National and Union Pacific have gone to court to try to block implementation of a U.S. Surface Transportation Board rule seeking to streamline the settlement of small rate disputes with shippers.

CSX filed suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit challenging an arbitration process that the STB plans to launch as part of the new rules, which the agency said are designed to make it easier, faster and less expensive for shippers to initiate cases seeking up to $4 million in relief over two years.

The rules were adopted in December as part of a new process called Final Offer Rate Review. The rule drew applause from shippers but was attacked by the Association of American Railroads as unworkable.

UP filed a similar lawsuit in the appeals court for the Eighth Circuit seeking to block the STB rule. CN’s challenge of the rule was filed in the Seventh Circuit appeals court by its U.S. subsidiaries, Illinois Central and Grand Trunk Western.

A sticking point in the small rate case rules is the arbitration component. STB wants all Class 1 railroads to agree to binding arbitration while the railroads have called for voluntary arbitration.

The AAR has argued that the Final Offer Rate Review process exceeds the agency’s legal regulatory authority.

AAR s position is that the effect of the new rule is that regulators will choose and impose the rate proposed by the shipper or the rate offered by the railroad.

The trade association also has been critical of the requirement that all Class 1 railroads must agree to participate.

The STB for its part has sought to frame the new rule as striking a balance between competing interests.

Class 1 Railroads Eye Ground-Based Conductor Position Pilot Programs, Giving Workers Sick Days

December 15, 2022

Union Pacific is reportedly amenable to granting sick days to its operating workers. At the same time the Class 1 carrier is talking with its unions about launching a pilot program to move conductors to ground-based positions, something that Class 1 railroads sought but failed to achieve during the most recent negotiations to amend the labor contract with 12 railroad unions.

UP contends that moving conductors to trucks would give them more predictable work schedules and make the job more efficient.

Conductors would be assigned to a fixed base and thus would be able to return home every night.

Trains magazine reported the developments in a pair of stories posted on its website.

The ground-based positions – which UP is calling “expediters” – were discussed by a UP vice president during a hearing held this week by the Federal Railroad Administration on a proposed two crew member rule.

UP’s argument to the FRA is that positive train control has significantly reduced the conductor’s tasks and a ground-based worker would be better able to handle troubleshooting and fixing mechanical problems encountered while a train is out on the road.

Busy mainlines would have multiple “expediters” on duty at all times.

The Trains story also reported that Norfolk Southern is talking with its unions about a similar pilot program.

During the hearing, Tom Schnautz, NS vice president of advanced train control, said the carrier wants to use ground-based conductors in local service.

Schnautz said a conductor would arrive at a customer facility to line switches and perform other tasks before a train arrives.

The Trains story about the FRA hearing can be read at

As for paid sick leave, UP CEO Lance Fritz said during a U.S. Surface Transportation Board hearing on UP service issues that he would favor sick leave for union workers and providing certainty regarding scheduled days off.

“We definitely want to address sick leave and certainty in time off in terms of scheduling … There’s a host of ways we can get there,” Fritz said. “There’s economics that are available to make that happen. And we are committed to making that happen this coming year.”

UP is conducting a pilot program in Kansas that makes work schedules for locomotive engineers more predictable.

Richard Edelman, a lawyer representing several rail unions including the SMART-Transportation Division, said during the hearing that union workers are angry about the way they have been treated in recent years.

“I don’t think you can even calculate the fury over the lack of personal time, the lack of sick time, the furloughs of their coworkers,” he said.

Edelman said some railroad workers are likely to leave their jobs once they receive back pay and a one-time bonus dictated by a new national contract.

The Trains story can be read at

Investors Pushing for Paid Sick Leave at NS, UP

December 6, 2022

Activist investors plan to seek shareholder resolutions urging railroads to grant paid sick leave to all railroad workers.

Trains magazine reported on its website that the non-binding resolutions have been filed at Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific.

At NS the resolution was filed by Impact Shares. “We believe paid sick leave to be essential to protecting and maintaining one of a company’s – and the economy’s – most important assets: workers,” Impact Chief Engagement Officer Marvin Owens said in a statement. “Paid sick leave should not be seen by companies as an expense, but as a prudent investment – an insurance policy that will promote a strong workforce and, by extension, a healthy economy.”

The resolution could be voted on by NS shareholders next spring.

The Trains report said quoted Bascome Majors, an analyst at Susquehanna Financial Group, as saying providing workers with paid sick time could cut railroad earnings by up to 2 percent.

Paid sick days became a sticking point in recent negotiations to amend the contract governing wages, benefits, and work rules with 12 railroad labor unions.

The contract dispute was eventually “settled” when Congress adopted a resolution imposing a contact on the unions that increased wages but did not give them any paid sick days.

That contract was based largely on recommendations of a presidential emergency board that said unions and individual railroads should negotiate the sick leave issue.

The Association of American Railroads has sought to frame the issue by saying that in past negotiations unions decided to forgo paid sick days in favor of higher wages.

The AAR also has noted how much vacation time railroad workers receive and how railroaders can take personal leave days for any reason.

Unions have countered that these require advance approval from railroad management and are inadequate to cover sudden and short-term health matters.

The Trains article can be read at

Trial UP Program Shows How Railroads Might Make Crew Schedules More Predictable

November 9, 2022

A pilot program that Union Pacific is operating in Kansas may become a first step toward bringing more predictable schedules to train operating crews across the nation.

Trains magazine reported on its website that a UP vice president speaking at a transportation conference outlined the basics of the plan that would see locomotive engineers told which 11 days they would work and which four days they would be off.

Eric Gehringer, executive vice president of operations, said the “11 and four” plan would govern work assignments in 15-day periods.

He said the Class 1 carrier is working with its unions to oversee the 60-day trial plan.

“It’s something we have to do through the collective bargaining agreement. We can’t just instantly put that across the system,” Gehringer said.

Unpredictable work schedules are a primary grievance that unionized rail workers have had in recent years. The issue has hung over negotiations for a new contract for Class 1 railroad workers.

The railroad work environment also has been implicated in crew shortages that have hindered UP, BNSF, CSX and Norfolk Southern.

Executives at those carriers have blamed crew shortages for several issues they’ve experienced in the past couple years that have drawn the ire of rail shippers.

Speaking at the Baird 2022 Global Industrial Conference, Gehringer said UP might seek to extend the practice being tested in the trial program to the rest of its system although there may be some variations in how it is conducted. The trial program began Nov. 1.

4 Class 1s Must Continue Reporting Service Data to STB

October 30, 2022

Four Class I railroads will continue to submit data about performance and employment to the U.S. Surface Transportation Board for another six months.

The regulatory authority last May ordered BNSF, CSX, Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific to submit service reports in the wake of freight service deficiencies that were the subject of STB hearings.

The railroads have since been giving updates pertaining to their performance and labor force targets, and any service recovery plan modifications.

The reports the railroads must submit are in addition to similar data they had already been providing to regulators.

The additional reporting called for the four carriers to further explain efforts to correct service deficiencies.

In its most recent order, the STB said the early reports “revealed extensive service delays and reliability problems.”

That included one carrier that failed more than half the time on average to deliver railcars in manifest service within 24 hours of the original estimated time of arrival.

Another carrier reported failing more than one-third of the time on average to deliver grain and ethanol unit trains within 24 hours of the original ETA.

In an order released Oct. 28, the STB said, “The most recent data show that the four carriers are currently meeting some of their six-month targets for service improvement, and many key performance indicators are trending in a positive direction.

“However, the data continue to validate the anecdotal information that continues to be reported to the Board regarding significant service issues. Key performance indicators, such as velocity, terminal dwell, first-mile/last-mile (FMLM) service (i.e., industry spot and pull), operating inventory, and trip plan compliance show that railroad operations remain challenged generally, and particularly when compared to pre-pandemic 2019 levels.”

The Oct. 28 STB order, though, said the four carriers will not be required to continue to participate in individual biweekly conference calls with the Board’s Office of Public Assistance, Governmental Affairs and Compliance.”

UP Sets Ferry Move of Steam Locomotives to Illinois

October 27, 2022

Locomotives and other equipment being donated by Union Pacific to an Illinois-based railroad museum is slated to move on Nov. 11-19.

The “Heritage Donation Special” will move two steam locomotives, a Centennial diesel locomotive, and other equipment between Cheyenne, Wyoming, and Silvis, Illinois, to the Heritage of Midwest America facility.

Among the locomotives in the move are Challenger No. 3985, Class TTT 2-10-2 No. 5511, Centennial DDA40X No. 6936, and an E9B passenger shell.

The ferry move will make maintenance and display stops en route including on Nov. 12 in North Platte, Nebraska.

No public access is planned for the overnight stops in the Nebraska cities of Sidney and Grand Island, and the Iowa cities of Council Bluffs, Boone and South Amana.

The ferry move will be pulled by diesel locomotives.

UP Tweaks New Locomotive Livery

September 20, 2022

Union Pacific has tweaked the design of its new locomotive scheme by changing the design of the American flag that appears on the flanks of the nose.

The flag will now feature the waving design similar to the one that has adorned the long hood for the past 20 years.

UP also has reduced the size of the herald that appears on the locomotive nose.

In an earlier announcement UP had said it was moving the flag because the flag decals applied to the long hood did not stand up well to wear and tear.

UP Steams up ‘Big Boy’ to Move Locomotive

September 16, 2022

Union Pacific steamed up its 4-6-6-4 “Big Boy” this week but it didn’t pull a train out on the mainline.

Railfan & Railroad magazine reported that the 4014 was used to move 2-10-2 No. 5511 out of a roundhouse in preparation for its move to Silvis, Illinois.

UP has donated the 5511 to Railroading Heritage of Midwest America, which is based in a former Rock Island repair shop in Silvis.

Also slated to move to Silvis is 4-6-6-4 “Challenger” No. 3985. The Midwest America group plans to restore both locomotives.

Last Wednesday, the “Big Boy” moved the 5511 back and forth through the yard to test various systems.