Union Pacific, one of the largest freight railroad operators, said it will suspend service between the West Coast and Chicago due to congestion, according to a spokesperson for the railroad.
“We believe this change will allow the transportation supply chain to begin working off the backlog of Global IV destined trains, while freeing up railcar assets to support import loading needs on the West Coast,” a spokesperson for the railroad told SupplyChainDive. “We are working closely with the ocean carriers and collaborating wherever possible to improve the health of the supply chain.”
The railroad, according to the spokesperson, is dealing with “significant congestion” around its terminals, namely in Chicago’s Global IV gateway.
Union Pacific’s suspension will also help ocean carriers reduce backlogs in shipping that were incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, a spokesperson told FreightWaves. The halt will last for about a week, starting on Sunday, July 18.
The suspension applies also to Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Oakland, California; and Tacoma, Washington state, the spokesperson said.
“This week we reached out to the ocean carriers to take more positive steps to improve fluidity and throughput in the Los Angeles Basin and our Global IV facility in Chicago … We believe this change will allow the transportation supply chain to begin working off the backlog of Global IV-destined trains while freeing up railcar assets to support import loading needs on the West Coast,” Union Pacific told FreightWaves. “We are working closely with the ocean carriers and collaborating wherever possible to improve the health of the supply chain.”
It comes as container processing at ports in Southern California has increased while Union Pacific’s rail shipments from ports are at record highs, Union Pacific said, according to the website.
“The dwell time on container terminals continues to hover near its peak of five days,” Port Of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka told news outlets several days ago regarding the congestion.
“It’s not unheard of for railroads to put some routes on pause in order to catch up,” Lee Peterson, a spokesperson for the Port of Long Beach, told SupplyChainDive. “We’re confident that the supply chain will adjust and overcome any backlogs.”
Several months ago, transportation and logistics firm J.B. Hunt warned of rail ramp congestion in Chicago and Southern California due to unseasonably high import loads.
“As a result of railroad restrictions and closures, J.B. Hunt’s ability to pick up freight in the lanes listed above is expected to be impacted through Saturday, December 19,” according to an alert from J.B. Hunt posted in December.