Posts Tagged ‘Union Pacific’

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.

Rhetoric Continues to Rise in Contract Dispute

September 14, 2022

A ninth railroad labor union has reached a tentative agreement with the National Carriers Conference Committee, which represents railroad management in contract talks.

In the meantime, various shipper trade associations continued to apply pressure on Congress  to settle the dispute to avoid a strike or lockout that could occur as early as Friday.

President Joseph Biden also called top railroad management executives and union leaders to lobby them to settle the contract dispute, which a union president said on Monday is stalled over railroad attendance policies.

The latest union to reach a tentative agreement is the National Conference of Firemen & Oilers.

A news release from the union said the tentative pact implements the recommendations of a presidential emergency board of a 24 percent compounded wage increase over the five-year length of the contract, which covers the period of 2020 through 2024.

Workers would receive retroactive pay to cover 2020 and 2021 and parts of 2022. They also would receive five annual $1,000 lump sum payments.

That leaves three unions, which represent locomotive engineers, conductors and signal workers still at the bargaining table. The 12 railroad labor unions represent 125,000 workers.

The latest agreement came as various parties in the dispute continue to heat up the war of words.

Dennis Pierce, president of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, said on Monday that worker attendance policies are the primary unresolved issue in the contract talks.

Pierce said during an appearance on cable news network CNBC that BNSF and Union Pacific in particular are being adamant about refusing to modify their attendance policies.

“We’re just looking for time away from work to address our medical issues,” Pierce said.  “Union Pacific and BNSF attendance policies are assessing [penalty] points to our members when they just want to take time off for their regular medical appointments.”

In response, BNSF told CNBC that Pierce’s claims were false while UP said it was continuing to push for a “prompt resolution” to avoid a shutdown of the national freight rail system. 

In a related development, leaders of the SMART Transportation Division union told Congressional leaders on Tuesday that lawmakers should let rail labor contract negotiations play out.

In a letter to Congress SMART-TD legislative director Greg Hynes said union members would reject a tentative contract based on the recommendations of the PEB by a 3-to-1 margin.

Hynes also said in his letter that the top issue in the contract talks is not wages but working conditions.

He said the carriers “are still refusing to provide our members with minimal provisions to improve their overall quality of life, and to recognize their contributions to the industry and to the American economy.”

The PEB appointed by President Biden earlier this year was largely silent on work rules, saying  only that they should be negotiated at the local level between the railroads and the unions.

Unions have described the attendance policies that railroads have imposed as “draconian.”

“Through egregious and excessive absenteeism policies, the railroads have taken away our members’ ability to be a worthy parent and dependable spouse; and they have eliminated any realistic means for an employee to receive medical services or care for a sick child without being assessed discipline or termination,” Hynes wrote.

The PEB did recommend that workers receive one additional paid day off.

The Association of American Railroads said in a statement that workers have numerous ways to take time off, including paid vacation, sick leave and supplemental sick leave policies through the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act.

The AAR statement said crews also can mark off for any reason “if they maintain a reasonable level of overall availability under carrier attendance policies.”

BNSF said its workers generally get three to five weeks of paid vacation and 10 to 14 paid holidays or personal leave days, and received a 25 percent increase in personal leave days.

UP officials said it “understands our employees want a different way and process … to request and receive time off for things like medical appointments. We are in active discussions with the unions to try to address these concerns.”

In the meantime, several trade organizations have called on Congress to intervene to head off a strike and/or lockout.

They include the National Industrial Transportation League, one of the largest and oldest group of rail shippers, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“NITL members and shippers of all sizes in all regions continue experiencing dismal freight rail service due primarily to the implementation of precision scheduled railroading. Any disruption in freight rail service will negatively impact our nation’s international competitiveness while making inflation even worse which is affecting all Americans,” Nancy O’Liddy, executive director of the NIT League, wrote in a Sept. 12 letter to congressional leaders.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said a strike would be an “economic disaster.”

On Monday, President Biden and members of his cabinet held emergency meetings in Washington and have been talking with the parties in the labor dispute.

The Federal Railroad Administration said it “is initiating oversight and enforcement efforts to ensure safety during any potential interruption of rail operations.”

UP Releases Photos of New Locomotive Livery

July 27, 2022

Union Pacific has released two photographs of the new locomotive livery that is now making it way into the system.

The new look tweaks the existing livery by moving the U.S. flag to the locomotive nose, dropping the wings from the nose, enlarging the UP shield on the nose, and reviving the practice of placing in red letters the UP name on the locomotive’s long hood.

UP operates about 7,400 locomotives and has said it will take some time before they are repainted into the new look.

In a related development, news reports indicate the Class 1 carrier is launching a $1 billion program with Pittsburgh-based Wabtec to rebuild 600 older UP locomotives.

Wabtec told the Associated Press that this is the single biggest investment in locomotive modernization it has undertaken.

The locomotive manufacturer is working with Norfolk Southern in a similar program to rebuild 330 Dash 9-44CW units into AC44C6M diesels by 2025.

UP Tweaks Locomotive Livery

July 25, 2022

Union Pacific is tweaking its locomotive livery.

Locomotives will continue to be painted Armour yellow and gray with red trim, but the American flag decal is being downsized and moved from the flanks to the side of the locomotive nose ahead of the cab.

It is the first change UP has made to its livery in more than 20 years.

The long hood also will feature red “Union Pacific” lettering.

As reported by Trains magazine on its website, UP officials said they moved the flag because it did not wear well on the long hood. UP began placing American flags on the long hoods of its locomotives in 2001.

Also changing will be the front of the locomotive nose. Currently, UP locomotives wear wings with the company shield.

But the wings bend around to the side of the nose, which would infringe on the new location for the flag. So UP has decided to increase the size of the shield on the nose, but drop the wings.

It will take time to introduce the new design to UP’s fleet of more than 7,000 locomotives.

Locomotives will be repainted as they enter a shop for an overhaul or to repair wreck damage.

UP is inviting trackside photographers to tag their photographs of the new look locomotives on social media with @Union Pacific so the company can see where the engines are being spotted

STB Wants More Detail in Service Recovery Plans

June 15, 2022

Federal regulators have ordered four Class 1 railroads to submit more detailed plans to resolve freight service issues that have plagued the industry in the past year.

The order applies to Norfolk Southern, CSX, BNSF and Union Pacific.

In particular, the U.S. Transportation Board has ordered the carriers to correct what regulators see as deficiencies in the service recovery plans all four carriers submitted last month.

The board is also ordering the railroads to provide more information on their actions to improve service and communications with customers, as well as more detailed information on what they’re doing to hire more workers in order to provide more reliable rail service.

For example, STB members were dissatisfied with the plans submitted by NS and UP because they failed to include six-month targets for achieving performance goals.

“Unfortunately, these four carriers submitted plans that were perfunctory and lacked the level of detail that was mandated by the board’s order,” STB officials said in a statement. “The plans generally omitted important information needed to assure the board and rail industry stakeholders that the largest railroads are addressing their deficiencies and have a clear and measurable trajectory for doing so.”

The STB’s statement said the recovery plans need additional information which the STB order has laid out.

The service recovery plans were ordered on May 6 and came shortly after a two days of hearing in late April on shipper complaints of poor rail service.

The STB’s original order said the service recovery plans were to describe remedial initiatives and promote a clearer vantage point into operating conditions on the rail network.

NS Announces Launch of New Intermodal Service

June 9, 2022

Norfolk Southern said it has teamed up with Union Pacific, the Port of Virginia and shipping company Hapag-Lloyd to offer a new transcontinental intermodal service.

The service actually began in April but was formally announced on Wednesday.

Containers are unloaded at the Norfolk International Terminal and moved by NS to Chicago.

From there UP forwards them to ports in California in Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland; and to Seattle.

It is being marketed as OceaNS Bridge Express. The containers arrive weekly in Norfolk on ships operated by Hapag-Lloyd as part of its weekly Mediterranean Gulf Coast Express.

The port call rotation is Livorno – Genoa – Barcelona – Valencia – Veracruz – Altamira – Houston – Port of Virginia – Livorno.

Eight Panamax vessels are being used in the service and will call at the ports in Europe, Mexico and the United States.

Officials with the Port of Virginia said their agency is investing $1.3 billion through 2025 to create more rail capacity; modernize and renovate two berths and convert them to an RMG (rail-mounted gantry) operation; [and] dredge our channels to 55 feet deep and widen them for two-way traffic of ultra-large container vessels.

UP Delays ‘Big Boy’ Tour

April 25, 2022

Union Pacific is citing traffic congestion for postponing a month-long tour through six western states of its 4-8-8-4 “Big Boy” steam locomotive.

The tour had been scheduled to depart Cheyenne, Wyoming, on June 26 and operate through California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming.

In a statement attributed to Scott Moore, senior vice president-corporate relations and chief administrative officer, UP acknowledged that rail enthusiasts and the communities along the tour route make plans to travel to watch or to host locomotive 4014.

However, Moore said the railroad has “a duty to continue our efforts to reduce supply chain congestion and provide customers the service they deserve; given the impact of a steam tour on our operations that focus must be our priority.”

Once operations have returned to a more normal status, UP said it will provide information about when the “Big Boy” tour will operate. Those plans will be announced at http://up.com/SteamClub

The “Big Boy” last toured the UP system in 2019. It did not run in 2020 or 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

No. 4014 is one of 25 “Big Boy” locomotives built for UP by American Locomotive Company, the first of which was delivered in 1941.

STB Summons Class 1 CEOs to Talk Service Issues

April 8, 2022

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board will conduct public hearings on April 26-27 to discuss what it termed “urgent” service issues facing the nation’s freight rail network.

Regulators ordered high-ranking executives from BNSF, CSX, Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific to appear at the hearings.

Executives of Canadian Pacific, Canadian National and Kansas City Southern were also invited to address regulators.

Also expected to appear are representatives of other railroads, shippers, railroad labor unions, and other interested parties.

In a statement the STB said it has received numerous complaints in recent weeks from shippers and others about “inconsistent and unreliable” freight service.

The STB statement quoted STB Chair Martin Oberman as blaming the service issues on the precision scheduled railroading operating model, an obsessive desire to lower operating ratios and drastic workforce reductions.

“During my time on the Board, I have raised concerns about the primacy Class I railroads have placed on lowering their operating ratios and satisfying their shareholders even at the cost of their customers,” Oberman said. “Part of that strategy has involved cutting their workforce to the bare bones in order to reduce costs.”

Oberman’s statement noted that Class I railroads have collectively reduced their workforce by 29 percent or 45,000 employees.

The statement also said that such key performance metrics as terminal dwell time and average train speed have declined in the past few months.

For their part, the Class 1 railroads have attributed the service issues to crew shortages, which they say are rooted in difficulties they are having in retaining employees in a tight job market.

The railroads have said those issues are also affecting numerous other industries.

In his statement, Oberman said regulators will explore not just how the situation got to where it is but also what can be done to resolve it.

This will include exploring how regulators can use their authority to implement measures to address emergencies, increase transparency, and promote reliable service.

The hearings will be open to the public in person and through the STB’s website.

Those wishing to speak should notify the STB by April 14. Written testimony is optional but should be submitted by April 22.

Heavyweight Cars on Way to Everett Railroad

April 7, 2022

Two heavyweight passenger cars bound for the Everett Railroad in Duncanville, Pennsylvania, were set to be interchanged to Union Pacific on Wednesday to begin their journey from California, Trains magazine reported on its website.

The former Fillmore & Western cars include the Powhatan Café parlor built for the Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad; and the Rancho Sespe, a former Colorado & Southern Railway car.

A photo with the story showed the cars loaded on flat cars.