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8/29/2017



Rail News: Union Pacific Railroad

Rail service suspensions extended in Texas; UP, CSX pledge funds to hurricane relief


Rail service remains suspended in parts of Texas and Louisiana.
Photo – Union Pacific Railroad

Freight- and passenger-rail services remain suspended in Southeast Texas as Tropical Storm Harvey continues to cause rainfall and widespread flooding, railroads and industry associations announced.

Amtrak, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and Class Is announced yesterday that service disruptions and suspensions will remain in effect, according to service alerts and press releases.

Amtrak extended its service disruption notice on certain routes of its Sunset Limited and Texas Eagle trains. Amtrak Thruway buses in central and southern Texas are canceled and the Amtrak station in Houston remains closed, according to Amtrak's website.

APTA has offered support and assistance to transit agencies in Texas. As of yesterday, service suspensions were in place at Houston METRO, Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority, Fort Bend County Transit and Port Arthur Transit.

"Decisions on when to resume service will be made after they can assess the conditions of their vehicles, facilities and infrastructure; the availability of staff; and the road and service environment," APTA Acting President and Chief Executive Officer Richard White said in a letter to APTA members.

In the freight-rail sector, BNSF Railway Co. reported that widespread flooding is causing major disruptions of service and operations in the Houston region. Multiple washouts and high water have been reported on BNSF main lines, and all traffic destined to or originating from Houston has been suspended, according to a BNSF customer alert.

BNSF crews in this command center monitor the storm's impact on rail service.
Photo – BNSF Railway Co.

Other area rail lines, including those with BNSF trackage rights, have been forced out of service, as well.

"All operations at BNSF Houston-area rail yards and facilities, including our Pearland Intermodal and Automotive facilities, are currently suspended," BNSF officials said. "Our 24/7 Command Center remains in frequent communication with local, state and federal emergency personnel to evaluate conditions and determine when operations can safely resume."

With more flooding likely over the next few days, normal train flows in the area might not resume for an extended period, BNSF added.

Kansas City Southern announced yesterday that its force majeure declared for Kansas City Southern Railway and Kansas City Southern de Mexico and an embargo for impacted areas on the KCSR network remain in effect.

"Flooding is occurring throughout the region and there has been little opportunity to assess damage to our network at this time," KCS officials said in a service alert. "We continue to monitor the current weather, the forecast and our network and are working closely with our rail partners to have a plan in place for possible detours should they be needed once the rain subsides and assessments can be made."

Meanwhile, Union Pacific Railroad's operations along the Gulf Coast from Brownsville, Texas, to Lake Charles, Louisiana, have been suspended due to high water and storm damage, the Class I stated in a customer announcement.

With the storm expected to generate record rainfall for several more days and move northeast to impact areas in Louisiana, UP has issued embargoes on all rail traffic destined to stations on the Gulf Coast and inland that comprise the railroad's Houston service unit.

"Customers should consider diverting cars destined to the impacted area where feasible," UP officials said.

Freight railroads haven't yet been able to fully assess damage to infrastructure.
Photo – Union Pacific Railroad

Moreover, UP has stopped traffic flow through the flooded and storm-damaged areas. Where accessible, UP officials will continue to inspect track to determine when service can resume.

In addition, UP has pledged $250,000 to support Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. The funds will be provided from a variety of company donations, UP officials said in a press release.

The company is immediately donating $100,000 to the American Red Cross and $50,000 to Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner's Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund. Additionally, UP will match contributions to its "Friend to Friend" employee support network through Sept. 30, dollar-for-dollar up to $100,000.

UP also will match donations made to a Disaster Relief Matching Gifts Program for Hurricane Harvey, where employees can provide funding directly to the American Red Cross, Salvation Army and others.

And CSX announced on Twitter that it is making an initial $100,000 donation to the Red Cross and matching employee contributions dollar for dollar.



Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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