Union Pacific to drop low-volume intermodal moves to points on CN, CP, and CSX

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OMAHA, Neb. — Union Pacific will drop interline intermodal service in 186 low-volume lanes with destinations on Canadian National, Canadian Pacific, and CSX Transportation.

The changes, announced in late January, are the latest as UP streamlines its intermodal network as it implements its Unified Plan 2020, the new operating plan based on the principles of Precision Scheduled Railroading.

UP will end joint service from 52 origins on its system and in Mexico and points on CN; from 50 origins to destinations on Canadian Pacific; and from 84 origins to terminals on CSX.

The originating terminals on UP include points on the West Coast, the Southwest, Denver, and Texas, plus locations in Mexico. Destinations in Canada include major cities such as Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, and Calgary. CSX destinations are spread across the system, including terminals in the Midwest, Northeast, and Southeast.

The service changes take effect on Feb. 26, UP said in its Jan. 24 announcements, and will likely affect intermodal volumes but not the number of intermodal trains interchanged with CN, CP, or CSX.

In theory, shippers from affected originating terminals could still use UP intermodal trains to interchange points in Chicago or, in the case of a handful of CSX destinations, the St. Louis gateway.

But customers would be responsible for dray moves between terminals and would have to arrange for intermodal service on the connecting railroads for moves to Canada or points on CSX.

Intermodal analysts have said that’s unlikely due to the costs involved and limited dray capacity in Chicago.

The changes announced this week are the latest wave of interline service curtailments and the first to affect service to Canada.

In December, UP and Norfolk Southern announced they would end interline service between 236 eastbound origin-destination pairs and 244 westbound pairs. Last year UP and CSX also dropped interline service in low- and no-volume lanes. And CSX and BNSF Railway dropped interline service between some terminals on their systems.

UP executives have said the railroad was serving too many low-volume lanes, whose traffic moved in small blocks that could not efficiently be handled via steel wheel interchange in Chicago and other gateways.

The slimmed-down interline service reduces operational complexity and rubber-tire crosstown moves, executives say, which has cut costs while making service more reliable.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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