Union Pacific Embargos Subject of STB Hearing

As of October, Union Pacific had issued 886 traffic embargoes, up from just 27 in 2017. Photo by Steve Barry.

Union Pacific Embargos Subject of STB Hearing

By Justin Franz

WASHINGTON — Union Pacific’s top executives will face questioning from the U.S. Surface Transportation Board on Tuesday and Wednesday as the federal regulator tries to figure out why the Class I is issuing more traffic embargoes than any other railroad. 

According to the STB, UP’s number of traffic embargoes has skyrocketed in the last five years, from just 27 in 2017 to more than 880 in 2022 (as of October). 

“The Board understands that embargoes may vary in scope and that all carriers do not report and use embargoes in the same way,” STB officials said last month. “Nevertheless, the use of embargoes by all other Class I carriers, combined, pales compared to the number of embargoes issued by UP. Given UP’s sizeable role in freight rail, its increased use of embargoes in recent years, and the considerable increase just this month, it is imperative that the Board hear from UP directly about this matter and how UP plans to reduce, if not eliminate, the use of embargoes to control congestion.”

UP officials have said they are using embargoes as a tool to “alleviate network congestion.” It added that it “welcomes the opportunity at the upcoming STB hearing to explain the robust process we use to regularly monitor our network for elevated railcar inventory levels and the action we are taking to protect the nation’s supply chain.”

This article was posted on: December 13, 2022