UP transports record coal volumeadmin
Union Pacific Corp. said Wednesday that mild weather helped its railroad haul a record amount of coal during the first five months of this year.
The nation’s largest railroad loaded 5,304 coal trains during that period, which is a company record.
In May, Union Pacific loaded 1,090 coal trains in Wyoming’s southern Powder River Basin. That’s 205 trains more than during May 2005, when derailments in the area slowed traffic.
Union Pacific and BNSF Railway Co. — the two main U.S. shippers of coal — have been criticized in the past year for not keeping up with the coal demand of power generating companies. The two railroads share ownership of the tracks leading out of the Powder River Basin in northeast Wyoming.
Union Pacific Railroad has been sued by Entergy Arkansas, which claims the railroad schemed to hold back deliveries of Wyoming coal in an effort to make more money. Union Pacific denied that claim, saying it actually turned down new contracts to ship coal in order to catch up with delayed shipments to existing customers.
Union Pacific officials say the railroad is working to expand its capacity, particularly on its coal lines, but that work can take several years to complete.
Union Pacific and BNSF together will spend about $100 million to add more than 40 miles of third- and fourth-line track in the southern Powder River Basin.
“We value our coal franchise and are working hard to move our customers’ goods during a period of unprecedented demand for coal,” said Jack Koraleski, executive vice president of marketing and sales. “Our strategic investments in our railroad infrastructure, equipment, people and technology are helping us move more trains for our customers.”
Union Pacific said it is also installing additional signals in Iowa that will allow faster trains to pass slower trains on crossover tracks. And the Omaha-based railroad is improving connections in East St. Louis.