UP locomotive shop in eastern Oregon falls victim to PSR

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HERMISTON, Ore. — Union Pacific announced this week that would be laying off nearly 200 people at its Hinkle rail yard in Hermiston, the latest example of cost reductions brought on by Precision Scheduled Railroading.

About 195 people will lose their jobs as UP closes its Hinkle locomotive shop and warehouse over the next two months. In the last year, dozens of jobs have been lost at the rail yard as UP has implemented its “Unified Plan 2020,” a initiative spokesperson Tim McMahan says will help “streamline” the railroad’s operations. The railroad recently shuttered its hump operations at Hinkle as well.

“The workforce reduction is the result of accelerating (UP’s) continuous improvement plan and implementing Precision Scheduled Railroading principles,” McMahan tells Trains News Wire. “These steps are part of Unified Plan 2020, which streamlines operations as we ensure Union Pacific remains a strong and competitive company.”

McManhan says that some “limited operations” would continue at Hinkle, but declined to elaborate on what that means. Other switching operations have been moved to yards in Portland; Nampa and Pocatello, Idaho; Spokane, Wash.; and Ogden, Utah.

It’s unclear how many people will remained employed at the Hinkle yard and McMahan says the railroad would not share that data publically. Hermiston Mayor David Drotzmann tells the East Oregonian newspaper that he believes 40 to 45 people will remained employed at Hinkle.

Local politicians have blasted the decision to shutter the shop at Hinkle. In a letter to UP President and CEO Lance M. Fritz, Oregon’s two U.S. Senators, Ron Wyden and Jeffrey A. Merkley, wrote that the decision to close the locomotive shop would devastate the local economy.

“As UP adopts the Precision Scheduled Railroading model to reduce operating ratios, cutting rural workforce and facilities, there are many cautionary tales where this strategy has not performed well over the long term,” the senators wrote. “We are deeply concerned about rural Oregon economies and your company’s actions (risks) destabilizing already fragile communities.”

“While the company has substantial resources to reinvest and modify operations over time, many of these workers and their families are not so fortunate,” they concluded.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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