Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Land of Lincoln lauds Lincoln’s land link

Written by  William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and the Illinois General Assembly have proclaimed July 1, 2012, as “Union Pacific Railroad Day” in Illinois to honor UP during its year-long 150th anniversary celebration.

“Union Pacific’s founder, President Abraham Lincoln, signed the Pacific Railway Act of July 1, 1862 establishing the original Union Pacific,” UP Senior Vice President Corporate Relations Bob Turner said. “President Lincoln had the vision of a transcontinental railroad, and 150 years later Union Pacific provides the nation with environmentally responsible, safe and efficient freight transportation. It is an honor to be recognized by the State of Illinois as we commemorate our railroad’s sesquicentennial celebration and growing up together. We are committed to meeting the challenge given to Union Pacific 150 years ago by Abraham Lincoln himself, to connect and support the United States’ transportation needs.”

Union Pacific traces its Illinois heritage to the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad, chartered in 1836, and the Chicago & North Western, chartered in 1848. The two merged in 1864 and covered much of the state. UP acquired C&NW in 1995. The Chicago & Eastern Illinois, founded in 1877, operated a Chicago-St. Louis link via Villa Grove. The Missouri Pacific acquired C&EI in 1967, and UP merged with the MoPac in 1982. The final leg of UP’s Illinois network started as the Alton & Sangamon Railroad in 1847. Through a series of acquisitions and reorganizations, it became a part of Southern Pacific, which UP acquired in 1996.

Chicago is the world’s largest freight rail center, making Illinois a key state for UP. UP’s main line from St. Louis crosses the southern portion of the state to reach Chicago, and its east-west transcontinental main line across Illinois terminates at Proviso Yard in the Chicago suburb of Northlake. Proviso is also home to Global II, the largest of UP’s four major intermodal terminals in the state, handling nearly 300,000 container lifts annually. Global I is in downtown Chicago. Global III is in Rochelle, Ill. In 2010, UP completed the $370 million state-of-the-art Joliet Intermodal Terminal. The facility increased the railroad’s international and domestic container capacity, while improving operations throughout the Chicago region.

Major commodities transported by UP in Illinois include corn, soybeans, automobile parts, finished automobiles, and general merchandise. Particularly important to the railroad is the coal mining industry in southern Illinois.

Union Pacific operates more than 2,200 miles of track in Illinois. In 2011, UP employed 4,035 people in Illinois with an annual payroll of $327.3 million, and the railroad sourced $1.8 billion in goods and services last year from suppliers in the state. In the past two years, UP says its capital investment in Illinois exceeded $350 million.

UP points out that, through its contract with the Metra commuter rail system, it serves more commuters and operates more trains on its three major routes for Metra than any other carrier. Every day, 200 UP-operated trains carry 120,000 riders. Recently, UP invested nearly $132 million in the West Line Improvement Project, a program aimed at improving fuel efficiency, reducing passenger and train delays, and adding enhanced grade crossing systems. UP is also a partner in the CREATE (Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency) program.