November 22, 2022 -  -

The Surface Transportation Board (STB) is ordering Union Pacific (UP) President and CEO Lance Fritz and other top UP executives to appear at a Dec. 13-14 public hearing on what it’s calling a “substantial increase” in the Class I railroad’s use of embargoes as a method of reducing rail traffic congestion. UP responds.

STB on Nov. 22 reported that UP embargoes have increased from a total of 27 in 2017 to more than 1,000 to date (as of Nov. 17, 2002). 

"In recent years, there has been a significant increase in UP’s use of embargoes, and congestion is the stated cause for almost of all of the embargoes,” as shown in the above chart, according to STB. “This pattern shows no signs of abating.” (Comments from Nov. 22 STB Decision)

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 STB to cancel an embargo.

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Photo credit: Railway Age