Posts Tagged ‘Union Pacific’

Supreme Court Won’t Take On-Time Case

February 28, 2018

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected a request by Amtrak to review a lower court decision that found the Surface Transportation Board cannot assume regulatory authority that is granted to Congress.

The high court’s decision means that a last effort by the federal government to revive the delegated authority will be decided by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

In a July 2017 decision, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals decided that the STB lacked the authority to establish regulatory standards for “on-time performance” in exercising its power to require freight railroads to give “preference” to Amtrak trains. See, Union Pacific Railroad Co. v. Surface Transportation Board, 863 F.3d 816 (8th Cir. 2017).

The Union Pacific case was one of two in which courts considered challenges to a portion of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008.

That law delegated to the Federal Railroad Administration and Amtrak the joint power to establish metrics and standards to define “on-time performance,” and gave the STB power to penalize railroads that fail to meet the standards.

The other case was Association of American Railroads vs. U.S. Department of Transportation.

In the latter case, the railroad trade organization challenged the joint FRA/Amtrak authority as an unconstitutional delegation of governmental power to Amtrak because it is a for profit entity.

The appellate court in that case sided with the AAR, ruling that the law constituted a violation of the Fifth Amendment’s due process clause to give Amtrak, “an economically self-interested actor,” the power to regulate its competitors.

Following that decision, the STB sought to establish the on-time standards itself, which led to the Union Pacific case.

The district court in Washington has set oral arguments for March 5 in what remains of the AAR case.

During that hearing, the federal government and Amtrak will be seeking to have the court reinstate the joint rule-making authority of the FRA and Amtrak by narrowing the court’s previous decision and striking down only a portion of the offending PRIIA provision.

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Class 1 Capital Budgets Are Mixed Bag

February 15, 2018

North America’s Class 1 Railroads have varying plans for capital spending in 2018.

At one extreme, Canadian National plans spend a record $C3.2 billion for capital spending, which includes laying new track and buying new locomotives.

That is an increase of C$500 million over what CN spent last year.

On the other extreme are CSX and Kansas City Southern, both of which have cut their capital spending budget.

Compared with its peers, CSX is taking a meat axe to its capital budget, slashing it by $400 million to $1.6 billion for the year.

KCS is reducing its capital budget by $30 million and will spend between $530 million and $550 million.

Union Pacific and Norfolk Southern are planning to increase their capital spending while BNSF and Canadian Pacific have announced flat capital budget.

NS will spend an additional $100 million on a $1.8 billion capital budget while UP is increasing capital spending by $200 million to $3.3 billion.

The BNSF 2018 capital budget is $3.3 billion while CP will spend between C$1.45 billion and C$1.5 billion.

CN plans to spend C$1.6 billion on track and other infrastructure, including replacing 2.1 million ties and more than 600 miles of rail.

It also plans to plunk down C$400 million on equipment acquisitions, including 60 high-horsepower locomotives as part of a three-year, 200-unit order from GE.

At NS, track maintenance projects are budgeted at $930 million this year while it will spend $345 million for locomotives and $50 million for cars.

“Locomotive capital will be focused on the rebuild and conversion of locomotives from DC to AC power,” said NS Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Cynthia Earhart.

With CSX mothballing numerous locomotives and freight cars, it sees no need to acquire new equipment.

KCS said its capital budget is down largely because it won’t be buying any locomotives.

Ex-CSX VP Lands Job at Union Pacific

January 29, 2018

A former CSX high-ranking executive who was forced out of her job as vice president and chief operations officer had handed a VP job with Union Pacific.

Sanborn

Cindy Sanborn, the first woman to hold a senior operating executive role at a Class I railroad,  was among three CSX executives who left the carrier last November during a management shakeup instituted by then-CEO E. Hunter Harrison.

Sanborn will become regional vice president transportation-western region at UP on Feb. 16.

She will replace the retiring Richard Castagna and lead rail operations in Washington, Idaho, Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico from a base in Roseville, California.

Sanborn had held various management positions during her 30 years at CSX.

CN Led Traffic Growth in 2017

January 9, 2018

Canadian National led all North American Class 1 railroads in 2017 in traffic growth.

The Montreal-based carrier posted a 10.4 percent increase in carload and intermodal traffic, which was more than double the industry average.

The figures are based on data compiled by the Association of American Railroads, which said that on an industry-wide basis North American rail traffic rose by 4.8 percent in 2017.

Last year, CN saw an increase of 16 percent in its intermodal business and 9 percent in merchandise traffic.

In second place was BNSF, which saw its traffic rise 5.4 percent, much of it fueled by a growth of 6 percent in intermodal and coal business.

Kansas City Southern finished third in the traffic growth derby with 5.2 percent growth in traffic, most of it in merchandise business, which was up 9 percent.

Norfolk Southern had growth of 4.9 percent, much of it coming from intermodal traffic. Canadian Pacific had traffic growth of 4.4 percent, much of it potash and frac sand traffic.

At Union Pacific, traffic was up 2 percent, based largely on coal and frac sand.

CSX was the only class 1 to see traffic decline, by 0.2 percent. Carload traffic at CSX fell by 1.4 percent while intermodal dropped by 2.2 percent.

Additional UP Salad Shooter Trains Coming

October 28, 2017

Union Pacific Cold Connect is adding additional eastbound trains from terminals in California and Washington to Northeast destinations starting Oct. 31.

The new trains will depart on Tuesday through Saturday at 9 p.m. PDT and offer seventh and eighth day availability at Northeast terminals.

UP said that loads must be received into Cold Connect terminals at Delano, California, and Wallula, Washington, by 10 p.m. PDT the evening prior to train departure. Any loads arriving after that time may be rescheduled to the next available train.

Load tenders must be received 24 hours in advance of pick-up appointment.

A minimum of 24 hours lead time is required for full-truckload orders shipping out of Rotterdam, New York, for final delivery. This includes changes to any existing sales order.

All less-than-truckload orders will require 48 hours notice to ensure truck availability.

Schedules on westbound Cold Connect trains departing Rotterdam, New York, are not affected by the expanded service.

Cold Connect trains are conveyed to Chicago by UP and handed off to CSX, typically running through to New York with UP motive power.

More Potatoes Coming to ‘Salad Shooter’

September 14, 2017

The westbound Cold Connect train passes through Conneaut on CSX rails.

One of CSX’s most distinct trains may be adding some more business.

Dubbed by some railroad crew members and railfans as the “salad shooter,” the dedicated train of perishables from the West Coast has been seeing its business grow.

Union Pacific and the East Idaho Railroad (owned by Watco Companies) are upgrading facilities used to move Idaho potatoes to eastern markets.

The East Idaho has seen an 18 percent growth in potato shipments this year and is leasing 20 refrigerated cars that will be outfitted with special racks and rollers to help move the produce.

Officially known as Cold Connect – a name change from the Food Train – the service begins on UP in Wallaula, Washington, with refrigerated cars of produce.

The train picks up the potatoes from the East Idaho in Pocatello, Idaho. UP interchanges the train to CSX at Chicago where the cars are transported to Syracuse, New York, and Rotterdam, New York.

The planned improvements in Idaho are designed to make Cold Connect more competitive with trucking and enable the service to increase in operations to four or five trains per week.

Some cars are being interchanged to Norfolk Southern in Chicago and routed to other destinations.

STB Finds 4 Class 1 RRs Revenue Adequate

September 7, 2017

Four Class I railroads were revenue adequate last year, the U.S. Surface Transportation Board has determined.

That means that Norfolk Southern, BNSF, Union Pacific and the Soo Line (the U.S. subsidiary of Canadian Pacific achieved a rate of return on investment equal to or greater than the Board’s calculation of the average cost of capital to the freight rail industry.

The STB determined that the 2016 railroad industry cost of capital was 8.88 percent. The revenue adequacy figure was calculated for each of the Class I freight railroads in operation as of Dec. 31, 2016, by comparing this figure to 2016 ROI data obtained from the carriers’ Annual Report R-1 Schedule 250 filings.

The Class I ROI figures were: BNSF, 10.11 percent; CSX, 8.62 percent;  Grand Trunk (including U.S. affiliates of Canadian National Railway), 8.60 percent;  Kansas City Southern, 6.23 percent; Norfolk Southern, 9.20 percent; Soo Line, 9.58 percent and Union Pacific, 13.39 percent.

Roll em Salad Shooter, Roll em

August 13, 2017

Running as L090, the salad shooter approaches Bort Road in North East, Pennsylvania.

The white refrigerated reefers on the end are a hallmark of the salad shooter.

Q090 passes has just passed the Lake Shore Railway Museum in North East, Pennsylvania.

Qo90 is one of those trains that I can go for months without seeing and then I go through a spell where I see it regularly.

I seem to be in the latter mode this summer with the train that some CSX crews have nicknamed the salad shooter, a handle that has stuck in the railfan community.

It is a train of perishable produce that originates in California and the Pacific Northwest on Union Pacific with the two sections joining somewhere on the UP network.

Operating on an expedited schedule, the train is handed off to CSX in Chicago which takes it to a warehouse near Albany, New York.

I have rarely seen the return trip, which operates as Q091. I don’t believe this is a daily train. Almost always when I’ve seen it it has been a Sunday.

I’ve never seen the salad shooter have anything other than UP motive power.

In past years, the train had a fairly uniform consist of white refrigerated boxcars.

Those along with the UP motive power was a tell-tale sign that the train you were seeing was the Q090.

But in recent sightings, the consist has included what appear to be regular boxcars, many of them lettered for Golden West Service.

The cars appear to be marshaled in a series of cuts, which might reflect a series of loading docks and/or shippers.

I’ve never seen the Tropicana Juice train, but in my mind the salad shooter plays a similar role across the northern tier of CSX between Chicago and the Middle Atlantic. Both are a specialized service moving products that need to get there in a hurry in order to stay fresh.

Pair of Uncles Petes Minutes Apart in Marion

July 13, 2017

NS train 175 pounds the diamonds with the CSX Mt. Victory Subdivision as it passes AC Tower in Marion, Ohio, on the NS Sandusky District.

NS Train 195 approaches AC Tower in Marion.

Union Pacific motive power is hardly a rarity on the Norfolk Southern lines radiating from Bellevue.

What might be a little out of the ordinary is seeing two trains led by UP locomotives in a span of less than five minutes.

That was the treat for trackside observers in Marion last Sunday afternoon when train No. 175, a Bellevue to Macon, Georgia, (Brosnan Yard) manifest freight cruised through town and past AC Tower with a pair of faded UP units on the point.

The 175 met at South Marion the 195, a Linwood, North Carolina, to Bellevue manifest freight that was led by a newer UP unit.

Minutes after the 175 cleared AC Tower, the 195 came roaring past.

Touch of the UP on NS in Bellevue

July 1, 2017

Union Pacific No. 6247 is the last locomotive in a light power move to Bellevue. The signal at right is for a Wheeling & Lake Erie train.

A trio of Union Pacific units trail as a train gets underway headed for the Fostoria District.

Trailing in the motive power consist of train 175 as it passes the old reservoir at Caroline.

Helping to pull train 60U south of Attica.

During the longest day outing of the Akron Railroad Club last Sunday in Bellevue, Union Pacific motive power showed up on at least four trains, albeit trailing in all instances.

A UP unit was the last unit on a light power move, which meant that it was facing outward as it rolled through the mini-plant. So the photograph gives it the appearance of leading even if it isn’t.

Still, it is nice to see something colorful and foreign when going trackside.