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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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