Union Pacific Update From Beth Whited, Exec. Vice President Marketing & Sales

Announcement Number: CN2017-8
Categories: General Announcements
Posted Date: January 24, 2017

To Our Customers,

With every new year, comes new opportunities and challenges. And 2017 is no exception. The New Year has brought several extreme weather events impacting operations across our network. 

Over the past few weeks, we have been providing regular customer updates informing you of the hard work we are doing to restore service as quickly as possible. I wanted to personally reach out to you and share some additional information on our progress. 

As you know, extensive snowfall, rain and ice have caused washouts, snowslides, rockslides and mudslides, which is affecting service across a widespread area from Portland to Chicago and throughout Central and Northern California. The Pacific Northwest has been hit especially hard, with multiple snow storms continuing to inundate the area—impeding our recovery efforts. 

We are doing everything we can to restore service to normal levels as quickly as possible, but this is no small feat. Teams are monitoring the situation closely and planning calls are being held regularly with track, signal, bridge and transportation personnel for every region to implement action plans for repairs, staging equipment and establishing alternative routes to keep rail traffic moving where possible. We are coordinating with other railroads to eliminate traffic bottlenecks. 

While service has been restored in some areas, including Wallula to Spokane and Feather River Canyon near Portola, California, crews are working around the clock to clear track and repair damage where it is safe to do so. Widespread rain and snow have closed some major highways, affecting our ability to transport crews to the outage areas. We are working with local authorities to identify alternate routes around road closures or in some cases we are transporting crews to repair sites via locomotive “snow buses.” In addition, the weather is preventing our work trains from sourcing repair material, and in some cases, we are sourcing more than 100 truckloads of material to continue repairs. 

I’ve attached a few photos that illustrate the extent of the situation.

  • The top left photo shows the considerable work needed on the Roseville Service Unit to clear snow from our tracks. 
  • The top right photo shows a slide fence activated near Portland last week. These fences are placed along our tracks in areas where rockslides are possible and are equipped with live “signal wires.” When debris, such as trees or rocks, come in contact with a slide fence, a signal is sent, notifying the railroad to halt or reroute trains moving through the affected area—eliminating further damage and preventing potential derailments. 
  • The bottom left photo shows signal workers near Roseville, California digging their way to a “signal house” to ensure rail lines are in working condition. 
  • The bottom right photo shows a switch that took nearly three hours to dig out to open up operations to one of our customers in Idaho. 

As recovery efforts continue, please know that safety is always our top priority. While we will do everything we can to recover operations during inclement weather, the safety of our employees and communities we serve will always be our primary concern. 

We understand the significant impact the current service issues have on your supply chain, and we will work hard to keep you informed, so that you can plan ahead and keep your business moving forward. As we continue to monitor this situation, we will provide updates as more information becomes available.

As always, we appreciate the confidence you’ve placed in Union Pacific, and we are committed to providing you with the most efficient and environmentally responsible transportation services. Thank you for your business, and we appreciate your patience as we conquer these challenges.

Small | Beth Whited Signature
Beth Whited
Executive Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer
Marketing & Sales
Union Pacific Railroad

Medium | 01-24-17 Weather