HAMMERED by unprecedented demand, Union Pacific has taken the drastic step of imposing restrictions on traffic in critical corridors through Iowa and Illinois, in parts of California and at key terminals.

During the peak traffic period from mid-July to early November, intermodal and other shipments will be subject to an allocation system, and there will be limits on rock and aggregate materials from Texas to the remainder of UP’s 23-state network. Some automobile and chemical trains will be consolidated, and volumes of selected agricultural commodities will be restricted.

In the last nine months UP has taken on thousands of extra staff and added hundreds of locomotives (p465), but it is struggling to avoid a repeat of the congestion that crippled the network in 1997. It has moved record volumes of freight in each of the first six months of this year, and the company ’anticipates that volumes in the second half of 2004 will exceed last year’s record levels.’

Capacity limits have been imposed on the port of Vancouver by Canadian Pacific Railway as part of a programme to manage an extraordinary increase in container traffic, up by 24% over 2003 in the first quarter of this year. CPR has allocated an annual import container volume through Vancouver to each of the shipping lines it serves and has instructed terminal operators to load and unload wagons as quickly as possible. The measures are ’a critically important part of a more disciplined and orderly approach to the integrated logistics system’, said Fred Green, CPR Executive Vice-President, Operations & Marketing. Green added that CPR is expanding capacity to meet growing demand, including longer trains, track improvements and the acquisition of 5500 new intermodal wagons (p470).