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What if Shasta blows its top?

To an industry that routinely faces the aftermath of flooding, mudslides, avalanches, hurricanes and even earthquakes, the concept of service disruption due to an erupting volcano seems almost unthinkable. But according to a recent study, and judging by the not-so-distant history of volcanoes in the U.S., some railroads are in fact quite vulnerable to such disasters, particularly in the Pacific Northwest.

UP absorbs third-quarter hit

Any way you slice them, Union Pacific’s third-quarter 2016 financials aren’t good. Based on “an unstable global economy, the relatively strong U.S. dollar, and continued soft demand for consumer goods,” in the words of chief executive Lance Fritz, nearly every metric compares negatively to the prior-year quarter. Yet, “certain segments of the economy, such as grain and energy, are showing signs of life.”