The Union Pacific Railroad
The Union Pacific Railroad was chartered by Congress in 1886 to build part of the nation's first transcontinental railroad line. Under terms of the Pacific Railroads Act, Union Pacific was authorized to build a line westward from Omaha, Nebraska, to the California-Nevada line, where it was to connect with the Central Pacific Railroad, to be built simultaneously from Sacramento, California. Construction of the Union Pacific was begun in Omaha in 1865, and after a succession of construction problems, Indian troubles and delays, on May 10, 1869, the Union Pacific joined the Central Pacific northwest of Ogden, Utah, thus completing the nation's first transcontinental railroad.
Fraud, mismanagement and overextensions left the Union Pacific with heavy financial burdens, and in 1893 the company went into receivership. The railroad was reincorporated in 1897 as the Union Pacific Railroad Company in Utah and, under the management of Edward H. Harriman, the railroad was expanded, improved, and stabilized.
Harriman added several railroads to his empire, eventually controlling railroads in much of the Northwest. Acquisitions continued through the twentieth century, with acquisition of the Missouri Pacific and Western Pacific Railroads in 1982, the M-K-T Railroad in 1988, the Chicago and North Western Railroad In 1995, and the Southern Pacific in 1996. By 1997 the much-expanded railroad was "plagued by accidents, late arrivals, and congested rail lines; federal regulators intervened, allowing two competing railroads to share Union Pacific's tracks, to keep shipments moving (the track-sharing order was lifted in 1998). Today the railroad is a subsidiary of the highly diversified Union Pacific Corporation..." (Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. "Union Pacific Railroad" )
Union Pacific is one of seven Class 1 railroads in the nation . Measured by revenue, UPRR is the largest U.S. railroad, with revenues of over $1.5 billion in 2003. (American Association of Railroads, Class 1 Railroad Statistics) In the 2000's, UPRR reports "surging freight demand." The railroad reports that this demand "strained our network resources and slowed our system velocity, leaving us short of train crew personnel and locomotive power."
The Railroad has initiated programs to met this demand, reporting in the 2004 Annual Report: "We graduated nearly 5,000 new conductors into service and acquired almost 400 new locomotives during 2004, but record volumes continued to overwhelm our system even as we added these resources."
According to Union Pacific, the steps being taken in 2005 meet this "unprecedented" high demand include a "comprehensive redesign of our transportation plan...The new plan is intended to simplify our operations, improve network velocity, and better manage the volume of traffic flowing on our network in the face of continued strong demand." (Union Pacific Corporation, 2004 Annual Report.)