STB to UP: Keep us informed

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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STB Chair Ann Begeman (left) and Vice Chair Deb Miller have Union Pacific CEO Lance Fritz listening very closely to the Board’s request for continual updates.

Union Pacific’s plan to implement Precision Scheduled Railroading caught the attention of the Surface Transportation Board, which on Sept. 20 sent a letter signed by Chairman Ann Begeman and Vice Chairman Deb Miller to UP chief executive Lance Fritz requesting that the railroad’s senior management engage in weekly calls with the Board’s Rail Customer and Public Assistance office during the implementation process. The purpose of the calls is “to keep the agency fully informed of UP’s operating changes and impacts to customers and others.”

“We are well aware of UP’s service [problems] during this year, and believe it is essential that all carriers strive to provide efficient and reliable rail service to their customers,” STB’s letter said. “Therefore, we request that you and your team keep the Board informed throughout implementation of these planned operating changes” that will result from the UP 2020 Plan.

“As you know, CSX Transportation implemented precision scheduled railroading across its network last year, which resulted in serious service disruptions not only for its customers, but also other railroads,” STB wrote. “In order to facilitate CSX’s recovery efforts, the Board engaged in several forms of oversight, including a public [hearing] in Washington, D.C. In light of those events, we trust that UP will work in a transparent manner to avoid similar disruptions to the nation’s rail system.”

Fritz had contacted STB by telephone prior to UP’s announcement the evening of Sept. 17 (after close of business at the New York Stock Exchange) of the new operating plan. “During your call, we were pleased by the contrast you drew with regard to UP’s planned implementation, including retention of sufficient employee resources and active communication with your customers,” STB said. “We also appreciate that next month, Kenny Rocker, Executive Vice President Marketing and Sales, will meet individually with us and Board staff to provide more detailed information on UP’s operating plan changes.”

Rocker is among several UP executives assuming new responsibilities under a senior management reorganization announced Aug. 15.

STB Director, Office of Public Assistance, Governmental Affairs and Compliance Lucille Marvin is the Board’s main liaison with UP.

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