When East met West, Union Pacific Railroad was there. The principal operating subsidiary of Union Pacific was chartered by Congress in 1862 to build part of the first transcontinental rail line. Today, it is one of North America's largest railroads, providing freight transportation over 32,000 route miles of track across the western two-thirds of the US. It links every major West Coast and Gulf Coast port and provides service to the east through major gateways in Chicago, St. Louis, Memphis, and New Orleans. Union Pacific Railroad is the nation's largest hauler of chemicals and one of the largest intermodal carriers. It also serves all six major gateways to Mexico and connects with Canada's rail systems.
In addition to chemical manufacturers and intermodal companies, Union Pacific Railroad serves a customer base that includes steamship lines, vehicle manufacturers, agricultural companies, and utilities. Although its primary role is transporting freight, it also runs a commuter train operation in Chicago.
Although the economic recession drove down demand for Union Pacific Railroad's transportation services in fiscal 2009, the company rebounded in 2010, posting about $17 billion in revenues compared to $14 billion in the prior year. It also generated a record operating income of $5 billion, a 47% increase over 2009. That total reflected a 13% increase in volume, pricing gains, and improved productivity. Improving economic conditions are also driving increased demand for its services across almost all market sectors. Net income of $2.8 billion also surpassed its previous milestone of $2.3 billion set in 2008.
In 2011 the company expects to spend approximately $250 million on developing and testing a positive train control (PTC) system under a legislative mandate to implement PTC by the end of 2015. PTC, a controversial collision avoidance technology, is intended to shut off the train's controls, thereby stopping it before an accident. Union Pacific anticipates that PTC will cost about $1.4 billion to implement by the end of 2015. This includes installing the new system along its tracks, upgrading locomotives to work with the new system, and adding digital data communications equipment. – less