Thursday, November 12, 2009

UP puts New Mexico intermodal facility on hold

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Because of the recession, Union Pacific Railroad officials said plans for its proposed intermodal facility in Santa Teresa, N.M., are on hold until the economy improves, the El Paso, Texas, Times reports.

"The global recession has had a major impact on Union Pacific," said Tom Lange, spokesman for the railroad in Omaha, Neb. "Union Pacific's 32,000-mile rail network is built to support capacity of approximately 200,000 carloads per week. Last week, we moved slightly more than 158,000 carloads. In addition, we have roughly 4,100 employees furloughed, and 50,000 rail cars and 1,700 locomotives in storage."

The land deal the New Mexico State Land Office announced earlier this week, which provides Union Pacific with the land needed for the facility, is still on and will be signed Nov. 12. Union Pacific will have the land but postpone the construction for the intermodal facility. Initially, the railroad will use the Santa Teresa site for refueling and crew changes.

"Our current cost estimate to build the facility remains at approximately $300 million, though we have no timeline currently in place," Lange said. "It is premature to speculate on the number of employees that will be needed at Santa Teresa, and too early to determine any number of transfers/new hires that might be required."

Previously, state officials said the new facility could create up to 285 jobs.

The railroad had identified 2,219 acres of New Mexico state trust lands for its planned intermodal or train-to-truck transfer facility.

As its bid, it offered its 60,000-acre Lucy Ranch property in New Mexico, with an appraised value of $11.1 million, for the land at Santa Teresa. The state accepted the offer.

The "El Paso operations remain very important to Union Pacific's long-term strategic plan and will remain," Lange said.

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