UP Issues Embargo Due to Winter Weather ImpactWritten by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
Union Pacific (UP) on Dec. 29 told customers that it is implementing “catastrophic embargo #UP130022” for all traffic in and out of Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin “to maintain fluidity as this segment of the network works to move volumes” impacted by winter weather.
An embargo suspends a shipper’s right to common carriage by restricting freight movements. Issued by a railroad when weather, congestion, labor strife, natural disasters or track conditions prevent fluid operations, embargoes may not be used as an alternative to seeking regulatory approval for line abandonments, to avoid handling unprofitable or undesired traffic, or to influence routing. Shippers may ask the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to cancel an embargo.
“[R]ecent severe weather events and arctic temperatures” impacting operations in the region and “additional snow and ice accumulation forecast to hit the region over the next week” prompted the move, UP wrote in an online customer announcement.
UP reported that the embargo was taking effect Dec. 29, 2022, and “is expected to be needed for an estimate of 14 days,” but the Class I railroad noted that it “will be monitoring the inventory levels in this region and will lift the embargo sooner if possible.” According to UP, permits will be “issued as needed to protect critical supply chains. Requests for permits should be submitted through [UP] Case Management (user ID and password required).”
“We appreciate your patience as we work to restore service to this critical area safely,” UP wrote. “Please reference our Embargo page or the AAR Embargo System for additional details. If you have any questions, please contact [UP] Customer Care & Support at 800-272-8777 or your Union Pacific representative.”
In related developments, STB in November ordered UP Chairman, President and CEO Lance Fritz and other top UP executives to appear at a Dec. 13-14 public hearing on what it called a “substantial increase” in the Class I railroad’s use of embargoes as a method of reducing rail traffic congestion.
Following that hearing, Fritz on Dec. 16 advised STB that his railroad was immediately “pausing any additional embargoes under the pipeline inventory management program we began in November.”