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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

UP to reopen parts of storm-damaged western lines by Monday


Union Pacific Railroad is closer to making a full recovery from the recent severe storms in the West. By Monday, the Class I expects to at least partially reopen its California Coast Line and a desert canyon line northeast of Las Vegas — the last two severely damaged lines.

For now, a traffic embargo in California and southern Nevada remains in effect.

"We have been working closely with our customers to assure that critical chemical, grain and coal shipments into the affected areas are being handled," said UP Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Dick Davidson in a prepared statement.

In California, UP is using 150 workers, 40 pieces of heavy earth-moving equipment and dozens of trucks to repair the lines. Two work trains with specialized equipment are clearing mud on track.

In Nevada, 200 employees who are working with 60 pieces of heavy equipment to repair storm damage over an 80-mile stretch south of Caliente. The railroad plans to replace the Cottonwood Wash Bridge, which is buried under about six feet of mud and rock, and raise track about 10 feet in the area.

"More than 200 employees have volunteered to temporarily shift to various locations in the West to help move trains detouring around
the flooded segments," said Davidson.

Although UP's storm-related problems are slowing intermodal traffic out of California, work stoppages conducted by truck owner-operators last spring coupled with railroad service issues caused more of a cargo standstill, said Pacer Stacktrain President Tom Shurstad.

"Traffic out of northern California during that period came to a complete halt as a result of the work stoppages," he said. "But shippers and carriers are resourceful."

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 1/19/2005