West Coast Rail Crunch Begins to Ease

Crews have been at work to restore service since UP operations were slammed by high water, mud and rockslides and washouts through its Southern California and Southern Nevada operating area.

A number of embargos had to be put in place during the repair period and some have now been cancelled. Most recently, the UP cancelled embargo on all westbound intermodal traffic into the Los Angeles basin. Too, the railroad has cancelled the embargo for traffic moving eastward from on-dock locations. Other eastbound traffic will still be bound by an embargo and requirements for permits.

Previously, UP had reopened its Coast Line, which had been closed due to line washouts, sinkholes and mud on the tracks over a 139-mile stretch. The line was open to a limited number of freight trains, but serves as a major passenger link between Los Angeles, Oxnard, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo in California.

Too, freight traffic on UP’s Nevada Caliente line that had been limited to 15 trains per day should now be open to its full capacity of 25 to 30 trains per day.

In assessing the financial impact of the storm on UP, the railroad’s chairman and CEO, Dick Davidson says that, “At this time our best estimate is that it could approach, or even exceed, $200 million in total. About $100 million of that would be the capital expenditure for the repairs. The remainder would hit operating income through lost revenue and high costs.”

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