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The Union Pacific Railroad (reporting markUP) (or legally Union Pacific Railroad Company and simply Union Pacific) is a freight hauling railroad that operates 8,500 locomotives over 32,100 route-miles in 23 states west of Chicago and New Orleans. The Union Pacific Railroad system is the largest in the United States after the BNSF Railway and is one of the world's largest transportation companies. The Union Pacific Railroad is the principal operating company of the Union Pacific Corporation (NYSE: UNP); both are headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska.
The Union Pacific legacy began in 1862 with the original company, called the Union Pacific Rail Road, which was part of the First Transcontinental Railroad project, later known as the Overland Route. The railroad would subsequently be reorganized thrice: as the Union Pacific Railway (which absorbed the original in 1880), as the Union Pacific "Railroad" (which absorbed the Union Pacific Railway in 1897), and finally as a renamed Southern Pacific Transportation Company (which merged with Union Pacific in 1998).
Union Pacific (Mark II)'s main competitor is the BNSF Railway, the nation's largest freight railroad by volume, which also primarily services the Continental U.S. west of the Mississippi River. Together, the two railroads have a duopoly on all transcontinental freight rail lines in the U.S.
The line was constructed primarily by Irish labor who had learned their craft during the recent Civil War. Under the guidance of its dominant stockholder Dr. Thomas Clark Durant, the namesake of the city of Durant, Iowa, the first rails were laid in Omaha. The two lines were joined together at Promontory Summit, Utah, 53 miles (85 km) west of Ogden on May 10, 1869, hence creating the first transcontinental railroad in North America.
Directors of the Union Pacific Railroad gather on the 100th meridian, which later became Cozad, Nebraska, approximately 250 miles (400 km) west of Omaha, Nebraska Territory, in October 1866. The train in the background awaits the party of Eastern capitalists, newspapermen, and other prominent figures invited by the railroad executives.
The original UP was entangled in the Crédit Mobilier scandal, exposed in 1872. As detailed by The Sun, Union Pacific's largest construction company, Crédit Mobilier, had overcharged Union Pacific; these costs had then been passed on to the United States government. In order to convince the federal government to accept the increased costs, Crédit Mobilier had bribed congressmen. Although the UP corporation itself was not guilty of any misdeeds, prominent UP board members (including Durant) had been involved in the scheme. The ensuing financial crisis of 1873 led to a credit crunch, but not bankruptcy.
As boom followed bust, the Union Pacific continued to expand. The original company was purchased by a new company on January 24, 1880, with dominant stockholder Jay Gould. Gould already owned the Kansas Pacific (originally called the Union Pacific, Eastern Division, though in essence a separate railroad), and sought to merge it with UP. Thusly was the original "Union Pacific Rail Road" transformed into "Union Pacific Railway."
Extending towards the Pacific Northwest, Union Pacific built or purchased local lines that gave it access to Portland, Oregon. Towards Colorado, it built the Union Pacific, Denver and Gulf Railway: both narrow gauge trackage into the heart of the Rockies and a standard gauge line that ran south from Denver, across New Mexico, and into Texas.
The Union Pacific Railway would later declare bankruptcy during the Panic of 1893. Again, a new Union Pacific "Railroad" was formed and Union Pacific "Railway" merged into the new corporation.
Union Pacific in the 20th century
In the early 20th century, Union Pacific's focus shifted from expansion to internal improvement. Recognizing that farmers in the Central and Salinas Valleys of California grew produce far in excess of local markets, Union Pacific worked with its rival Southern Pacific to develop a rail-based transport system that was not vulnerable to spoilage. These efforts came culminated in the 1906 founding of Pacific Fruit Express, soon to be the world's largest lessee of refrigerated railcars.
Meanwhile, Union Pacific worked to construct a faster, and more direct substitute for the original climb to Promontory Point. In 1904, the Lucin cutoff opened, reducing curvature and grades. The original route would eventually be stripped of track in 1942 to provide war scrap.
To attract customers during the Great Depression, Union Pacific's chairman W. Averell Harriman simultaneously sought to "spruce up" the quality of its rolling stock and to make its unique locations more desirable travel destinations. The first effort resulted in the purchase of the first streamlined train: the M-10000. The latter resulted in the Sun Valleyski resort in central Idaho; it opened in 1936 and finally was sold in 1964. Despite the fact that the M-10000 and its successors were among the first diesel locomotives, Union Pacific completed dieselization relatively late. In 1944, UP finally received delivery of its last steam locomotive: Union Pacific 844.
As the 20th century waned, Union Pacific recognized -- like most railroads -- that remaining a regional road could only lead to bankruptcy. At the close of December 31, 1925, UP and its subsidiaries had operated 9,834 route-miles and 15,265 track-miles; in 1980, these numbers had remained roughly constant (9,266 route-miles and 15,647 track-miles). But in 1982, UP acquired the Missouri Pacific and Western Pacific railroads, and 1988, the Missouri-Kansas-Texas. By 1993, Union Pacific had doubled its system to 17,835 route-miles.
By the same token, few large (class I) railroads remained. The same year that Union Pacific merged with the Chicago and North Western (1995), Burlington Northern and ATSF announced plans to merge. The impending BNSF amalgamation would leave one mega-railroad in control of the west. In order to compete, UP quickly merged with Southern Pacific, thereby incorporating D&RGW and Cotton Belt, and forming a duopoly in the West.
Revenue passenger traffic, in millions of passenger-miles[Note 1]
The Union Pacific system includes hundreds of yards. The majority of those yards are flat yards -- used for local switching. Other types of yards include intermodal terminals and hump yards. Intermodal terminals are typically ports, but UP also has terminals inland for trucks, such as a $90 million terminal in San Antonio that opened in 2009.
Active hump yards
Hump yards speed railcar classification by using the gravity of a small hill. Incoming cars are pushed over the hill and released down the slope. The free-rolling cars are then switched automatically into cuts of cars, ready to be made into outbound trains. Union Pacific's active hump yards include:
UP's basic paint scheme for its diesel-electriclocomotives is the oldest still in use by a major railroad. The middle two-thirds of the locomotive body is painted Armour Yellow, so named because it was the color used by the Armour meat company. A thin band of Signal Red divides this from the Harbor Mist Gray (a fairly light gray) used for the body and roof above that point. Signal Red is also painted at the bottom of the locomotive body, but this color has gradually become yellow as new Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) regulations for reflectorized tape came into effect in 2005; the trucks, underframe, fuel tanks and everything else beneath that line are also Harbor Mist Gray. The trucks at one point were painted in an aluminum color, though due to high costs and high maintenance, this was also changed to harbor mist gray, right after the merger with WP and MP. Lettering and numbering are in Signal Red, with black outlines. Some locomotives (historically passenger locomotives, as well as most units from 2000 on) have white-outlined blue "wings" on the nose, on either side of the renowned shield featuring white lettering on a blue background and, below it, red and white vertical stripes. The lettering, reading "Union Pacific" (earlier, at times, "Union Pacific Railroad"), is in a proprietary font similar to Futura Bold. A zig zag design with the signal red line on the top half of the locomotive sides is affectionately known as the "lightning stripe", based on a design from later CNW locomotives. Beginning in early 2002, a number of units were repainted with a large, billowing American flag with the corporate motto "Building America" on the side, where the 'UNION PACIFIC' lettering is normally positioned. This paint scheme is known as "Building America," "Wings," or "Flags and Flares."
UP Locomotive GE AC4400CW 5645 in Battle Creek, Michigan, with the Flags and Flares paint scheme
Union Pacific #5391, approaching bridge at Multnomah Falls Oregon, shows the white-outlined blue "wings" on the nose
The Armour Yellow livery was first introduced on the UP's M-10000 streamliner train in 1934, although Leaf Brown was used instead of Harbor Mist Grey. Passenger cars, cabooses, and other non-freight equipment have also been painted in a similar fashion.
The steam locomotive paint schemes are unique in their own way. Up until the mid-1940s, all steam locomotives on UP were painted in a standard scheme: the smokebox and firebox were painted graphite and the rest was painted jet black; the lettering was usually aluminum. In the late 1940s, many passenger steam locomotives were repainted in a two-tone grey scheme to match the scheme applied to some coaching stock. These locomotives were painted light grey, with one dark gray strip running from front to rear alongside the running board and in the middle of the tender. This dark grey strip was outlined in yellow (originally aluminum), and all lettering inside the strip was yellow also. After 1952, these locomotives were repainted in the same basic black color scheme as the earlier freight locomotives. The grey passenger cars were repainted in the yellow scheme.
Merger partner locomotives
A former Southern Pacific GP38-2 locomotive renumbered with UP "patch" markings
Until 2017, UP operated a (relatively) large number of locomotives still in the former railroads' paint. In addition, many locomotives were "patched" and renumbered by UP, varying in the degree of the previous railroads' logos being eradicated, but always with a yellow patch applied over the locomotive's former number and a new UP number applied on the cab. This allowed UP to number locomotives into its roster without spending the time and money necessary to perform a complete repaint. In May 2015, UP rostered 212 "patches", consisting of:
22 Chicago and North Western (whose CNW logos have been hidden by the "patches"),
174 Southern Pacific (AC4400CW, GP40-2, MP15AC, and GP60)
14 St. Louis Southwestern (GP60)
2 Denver and Rio Grande Western (GP60)
While not technically a predecessor locomotive in the traditional sense, UP also rostered a single SD40-2 (3564) still in the 1970s paint scheme.
Because patching varies in the degree to which it eliminates predecessor paint schemes, many patched units had unique designs, such UP 6361 (fully painted for UP, but only on one side). However, in 2017, Union Pacific decided to repaint all locomotives not in the current corporate colors. As of March 2018[update], only 41 locomotives remained unpainted.
On March 31, 2010, UP dedicated a specially painted GE ES44AC locomotive commemorating the centennial of the Boy Scouts of America. Although it retains the standard Armour Yellow and Harbor Mist colors, the unit has a large BSA 2010 logo on each side of the long hood, and the scouting logo low on the side of the cab.
On September 28, 2010, UP dedicated a specially painted GE ES44AC locomotive, as a tribute to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. The unit is standard UP Armour Yellow and Harbor Mist colors, but has a large pink ribbon, the symbol for breast cancer awareness, on each side of the long hood.
As of October 2013, the Union Pacific had 8,185 locomotives on its active roster. The locomotive fleet consists of 43 different models and had an average age of 17.8 years. According to Union Pacific, this is the largest fleet of diesel-electric locomotives in the US.
"Train Pride" equipment
Union Pacific continues to use a small number of "heritage" steam locomotives and early streamlined diesel locomotives. This equipment is used on special charters as well as the Cheyenne Frontier Days Express special train. Union Pacific also maintains a single DDA40X locomotive, the most powerful diesel locomotive in the world.
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Union Pacific maintains an extensive fleet of low-emissions locomotives. The majority of these locomotives have been purchased via grants from the US federal government, via the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program. Most are used in Los Angeles basin rail yards, to satisfy an air quality agreement with the local authorities.
Alone among modern railroads, UP maintains a small fleet of historic locomotives for special trains and hire in its Cheyenne, Wyoming roundhouse.
UP 4014 is a 4-8-8-4 Articulated type, Big Boy, freight steam locomotive. On July 23, 2013, it was announced that the UP was acquiring UP 4014 from The Southern California Chapter of The Railway and Locomotive Historical Society in Pomona, with the goal of restoring it to service. 4014 was moved from Pomona to the Union Pacific West Colton yard on January 26, 2014 and then to Cheyenne, Wyoming. Restoration to full operating condition is currently in progress, expected to be finished between 2017 and 2019. Volunteers and paid contractors are assisting the UP steam crew in the rebuild predominantly at the UP Steam Shop in Cheyenne.
UP 844 is a 4-8-4Northern type express passenger steam locomotive (class FEF-3). It was the last steam locomotive built for UP and has been in continuous service since its 1944 delivery. Many people know the engine as the No. 8444, since an extra '4' was added to its number in 1962 to distinguish it from a diesel numbered in the 800 series. It regained its rightful number in June 1989, after the diesel was retired and donated to the Nevada Southern Railroad Museum in Boulder City, Nevada. A mechanical failure occurred on June 24, 1999, in which the boiler tubes from the 1996 overhaul, being made of the wrong material, collapsed inside the boiler and put the steam locomotive out of commission. The UP steam crew successfully repaired it and returned it to service on November 10, 2004. It was rebuilt and returned to service in 2016. It is the only steam locomotive to never be officially retired from a North American Class I railroad.
UP 3985 is a 4-6-6-4Challenger class dual-service steam locomotive. It is the largest steam locomotive still in operation anywhere in the world. Withdrawn from service in 1962, it was stored in the UP roundhouse until 1975, when it was moved to the employees' parking lot outside the Cheyenne, Wyoming, depot until 1981 when a team of employee volunteers restored it to service. In 2007, it underwent repairs for service, and was back up and running in 2008 to continue its run. UP 3985 has been in storage since 2010, but may return to service once 4014's restoration is completed.
UP 951, 949 and 963B are a trio of streamlined General Motors Electro-Motive DivisionE9 passenger locomotives built in 1955. They are used to haul the UP business cars and for charter specials. While externally they are 1955 vintage locomotives, the original twin 1200 hp 12-cylinder 567 series engines have been replaced with single EMD 16-645E 2000 hp (1.5 MW) engines (which were salvaged from wrecked GP38-2 locomotives) and the electrical and control equipment similarly upgraded, making them more modern locomotives under the skin. The set is made of two A units and one B unit. The B unit contains an HEP engine-generator set for powering passenger cars. The two A units were recently modified to eliminate the nose doors to increase safety in the event of collision.
UP 6936 is an EMD DDA40X "Centennial" diesel-electric locomotive. These were the largest diesel locomotives ever built and were manufactured specifically for UP. Of the many DDA40X locomotives built, 6936 is the only one in service. The locomotive suffered major damages in 2000 as a result of a collision with a dump truck at a grade crossing in Livonia, Louisiana. After it was repaired a winged UP shield logo was applied to the front. It was also repainted in the current Lightning Bolt paint scheme and had a rooftop air conditioning unit installed.
UP 5511 is a 2-10-2 steam locomotive. This locomotive is very rarely ever heard of, because it was never donated for public display. This locomotive is reportedly in excellent condition. The only thing keeping it from being restored is that it would be limited to 40 mph (64 km/h) or lower due to its large cylinders and small drivers. As of August 2004, this locomotive is being offered for sale by UP. It is currently in storage at the roundhouse where 844 & 3985 were repaired in Cheyenne, Wyoming
UP 1243 is a 4-6-0 steam locomotive, and is the oldest locomotive owned by UP. Built in 1890 and retired in 1957, it was at first stored in Rawlins, Wyoming. It was cosmetically restored in 1990 for public display, and toured with 844 as part of the Idaho and Wyoming Centennial train, being moved on a flat car. It was moved to Omaha, Nebraska in November 1996 and put on display at the Western Heritage Museum.
In addition there are a number of other locomotives kept in storage for possible future restoration. Rio Grande (DRGW) F9B 5763 is one of the units in storage, part of the Trio (A-B-B) of F9s that served on the Rio Grande in various Passenger Duty services (From the Denver Ski Train to the Zephyr Trains) until their retirement in 1996. Sister Units 5771 (F9A) and 5762 (F9B) were donated to the Colorado Railroad Museum. Chicago and North Western F7 No. 401, used for Chicago and North Western business trains, also was retained by UP.
UP 838, a twin to 844, is stored in the Cheyenne roundhouse as a parts source, though as most of its usable parts have already been applied to 844, it is more likely to see use as a source of pattern parts for reproduction replacements. Reputedly, 838's boiler is in better condition than that of 844, due to 838 having not been in steam since retirement, compared to 844's relatively heavy use since 1960.
In addition to the historic fleet outlined above kept by UP itself, a large number of UP locomotives survive elsewhere. Many locomotives were donated to towns along the Union Pacific tracks, for instance, as well as locomotives donated to museums.
UP 18, 26. From 1948 to 1970, UP operated a series of Gas turbine-electric locomotives. No other railroad in the world operated turbines on such a scale. At one point, UP claimed that the turbines hauled 10% of its freight. These were ultimately retired due to rising fuel costs. Two surviving GTELs can be seen on display; UP 18 is at the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, Illinois, and UP 26 is displayed at the Utah State Railroad Museum in Ogden, Utah.
UP 6900 Centennial series - Several of the huge DDA40X diesel-electric locomotives have been saved. Other than 6936 that UP maintains in its heritage fleet, none of the remaining Centennials operate. However, 6930 at the Illinois Railway Museum has operating cab controls, allowing it to couple to another locomotive and control it.
Union Pacific owns a miniature train, sometimes called the "Pride of The Omaha Shops." It was constructed in 1956 in the Omaha shops. For many years, the train has been used in various events, including parades, employee Family Days and other civic events. Today, it makes about 50 appearances a year throughout Union Pacific's 23-state system and generally is booked up to three years in advance of special civic celebrations.
Union Pacific has inherited from its merger partner Chicago & Northwestern a small number of commuter rail services in the Chicago metropolitan area: Metra's UP/North, UP/Northwest, and UP/West lines. In order to ensure uniformity across the Chicago area commuter rail system, trains are branded as Metra services and use Metra equipment. However, Union Pacific crews continue to operate the trains under a purchase-of-service agreement.
Wine label, Roma Wine Company, bottled for Union Pacific RR circa 1940s
Between 1869 and 1971, Union Pacific operated passenger service throughout its historic "Overland Route." The last passenger train operated by UP was the westbound City of Los Angeles, arriving at LA Union Station on May 2. Since then, Union Pacific has satisfied its common carrier requirements by hosting Amtrak trains (see § Hosted Amtrak trains).[Note 5]
On September 4, 2007 a Union Pacific train derailment split the small town of Sergeant Bluff, Iowa, in half. Around 16 cars, most of them carrying salt, derailed spilling its contents in mountainous, snow-like piles. The derailment caused an interruption in traffic for about two hours until city officials could clean up the mess.
On June 24, 2012, three crew members were killed when two Union Pacific trains slammed into each other just east of Goodwell, about 300 miles northwest of Oklahoma City. The eastbound train passed a signal displaying stop on the main track and struck the westbound train in a siding about 1 mi (1.6 km) east of the meeting point. The crash triggered a diesel-fueled fireball that appeared to weld the locomotives together.
On May 25, 2013, in Chaffee, Missouri, a Union Pacific train collided with a BNSF train at a level junction, injuring 7, and causing damages exceeding $10 million. The accident caused a Missouri Route M overpass to partially collapse, and a post-accident fire was also reported. The resulting investigation concluded the engineer most likely fell asleep, due to sleep apnea. The uncontrolled train then violated four progressively more restrictive signals, before colliding with the BNSF train at roughly 40 mph (64 km/h). Three months later, Route M overpass reopened with a new design.
On June 28, 2004, a UP train collided with an idle BNSF train in a San Antonio suburb. In the course of the derailment, a 90-ton tank car carrying liquified chlorine was punctured. As the chlorine vaporized, a toxic "yellow cloud" formed, killing three and causing 43 hospitalizations. The costs of cleanup and property damaged during the incident exceeded $7 million.
Investigations of the Macdona incident revealed several serious safety lapses on the part of the Union Pacific and its employees, including employees not following the company's own safety rules. While the immediate cause of the derailment was the UP crew's "fatigue," chlorine tank cars had been improperly placed near the front of the train, a danger in the case of derailment.
The Macdona incident was not the first derailment in the San Antonio area. Between May and November 1994, Union Pacific trains derailed five times, killing at least 4 people. Between June 2004 and March 2005, 10 trains derailed, killing as many people.
In the aftermath of Macdona, the Federal Railroad Administration signed a compliance agreement with the railroad in which the railroad promised to rectify the "notable deficiencies" that regulators found. But the relative impunity UP seemed to exhibit regarding the derailment led to suggestions that the FRA was far "too cozy...to the railroads." In March 2005, Texas Governor Rick Perry supported a plan to reroute trains around large urban population centers in Texas, including San Antonio, but such a plan was purely voluntary and had no timetable associated.
In Eugene, Oregon, the UP and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality are jointly studying ground contamination at the railroad's yard originating with the Southern Pacific from over one hundred years ago, consisting mostly of petroleum hydrocarbons, industrial solvents, and metals. This has affected a nearby groundwater source.
In 2007, Union Pacific Railroad partnered with the US EPA for an experimental method of reducing emissions of locomotive engine exhaust emissions. The experiment discovered that adding an experimental oxidation catalyst filtering canister to the diesel engine's exhaust manifold and using Ultra Low Sulfur diesel would together reduce particulate emissions by approximately 50 percent, unburned hydrocarbons by 38 percent and carbon monoxide by 82 percent.
The company's Fuel Master program uses the expertise of locomotive engineers to save fuel. Engineers who save the most fuel are rewarded on a monthly basis. The program has saved the company millions of dollars, a significant amount of which has been returned to the engineers. In 2006, the program founder, Wayne Kennedy, received the John H. Chafee Environmental Award, and the program was recognized by Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta.
The Union Pacific Railroad Museum is a former Carnegie Library in Council Bluffs, Iowa that now houses the Union Pacific legacy, one of the oldest corporate collections in the United States. The museum includes artifacts, photographs, and documents that trace the development of the first Union Pacific railroad and the American West. The museum's collection features weapons from the late 19th and 20th centuries, outlaw paraphernalia, a sampling of the immigrants' possessions, and a photograph collection comprising more than 500,000 images.
^"M-10000 Streamliner Debuts". Union Pacific. Retrieved . See also in the sidebar: "By 1936, Union Pacific's shiny new Streamliners had begun to attract passengers back to the railroad, but the Depression was keeping passenger counts low."
^1980 mileage is from Moody's Transportation Manual (1981); the ICC's Transport Statistics says Union Pacific System operated 8,614 route-miles at year end 1980, but the 1979 issue says 9,315 route-miles and the 1981 says 9,096, so their 1980 figures look unlikely.
^ ab"Mergers since 1980". Trains. 76 (11): 31. November 2016. Retrieved 2018 – via Proquest. (Subscription required (help)). (Sidebar on "Transcon Mergers" article.)
^"Union Pacific Railroad Acquires Big Boy Locomotive No. 4014" July 23, 2013, retrieved July 23, 2013 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 18, 2016. Retrieved .CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
^Chappell, Gordon. "Union Pacific No. 4012". Steam Over Scranton: Special History Study, American Steam Locomotives. National Park Service. Retrieved 2012.
Athearn, Robert G. (1971). Union Pacific Country (Reprinted ed.). Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. ISBN978-0803208582. - covers impact of the railroad on the region it served from the 1860s to the 1890s.
Cahill, Marie; Piade, Lynne, eds. (1994). The history of the Union Pacific : America's great transcontinental railroad. New York: Smithmark. ISBN9780831737993. - heavily illustrated
Collins, Ryan Michael (2011). Irish Gandy Dancer : A Tale of Building the Transcontinental Railroad. Charleston, S.C.: Createspace. ISBN9781452826318.
Cooper, Bruce C., ed. (2004). Riding the Transcontinental Rails : Overland Travel on the Pacific Railroad, 1865-1881. Philadelphia: Polyglot Press. ISBN978-1-4115-9993-2.
Galloway, John Debo (1989). The first transcontinental railroad : Central Pacific, Union Pacific. New York: Dorset Press. ISBN9780880294096.
Kelly, John (2009). Union Pacific Railroad : passenger trains of the city fleet photo archive. Hudson, Wis.: Iconografix. ISBN978-1-58388-236-8.