UP awarded among gloom

UNION Pacific has been awarded for excellence in its diversity program by a Midwest minorities organization while its deadly Chicago derailment continues to unfold.
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Image courtesy of Union Pacific

Justin Niessner

The Wisconsin Iowa and Central Illinois Minority Supplier Development Council presented UP with the award to recognize ongoing efforts to purchase from minority and women-owned businesses.

UP strategic sourcing vice president Jacqueline White said the shipper strived to grow its diversity supplier base.

“Our program affects Union Pacific’s entire organization, impacting purchases of fuel, engineering services, railroad maintenance and construction, rolling stock maintenance and technology,” she said.

UP noted that it was the first major US railroad to implement a supplier diversity program in 1982 and was among the first Class 1 railroads to establish a company-wide minority and women-owned business enterprise purchasing program.

The accolade comes as eroding coal loading numbers and an increasingly disastrous derailment in Chicago overshadow the coal shipper’s grand 150th anniversary this month.

Earlier this week, a 138-car UP freighter spilled about 30 cars worth of coal when it derailed and caused the collapse of a bridge.

Two bodies have been found in a car buried under the coal and local authorities report more grim discoveries are possible.

Also, the company’s Powder River Basin coal loading performance for June was down 20% from a year before to 820 trains against 982 trains at the same time last year.

Coal loadings in the Colorado-Utah region also declined in June, down to 209 trains compared to 225 the year before.

The trend crystallized in April when a sharp drop-off caused PRB loadings to slide to only 723 trains compared to 940 trains in April 2011.