Peninsula rail freight service put up for sale

Daily Post Staff Writer

Union Pacific plans to stop using the Caltrain tracks for freight trains and turn that business over to another railroad. Several potential bidders for that business took an inspection trip up the Peninsula on Saturday to look over the route.

Representatives from Genesee & Wyoming Inc., Iowa Pacific Holdings, Herzog Railroad Services Inc. and San Francisco Bay Railroad left on the inspection train from Santa Clara on Saturday (Aug. 26) afternoon and ran to San Francisco and back.

“The trip allowed potential bidders to gain an understanding of the freight service currently operating along the rail line,” Union Pacific spokesman Justin Jacobs said.

An agreement between Union Pacific and Caltrain earlier this year resolved disputes arising from Caltrain’s electrification project and provided that Union Pacific would look for a short-line operator to take over freight operations.

The selection process will likely take between nine months and a year. If Union Pacific doesn’t find a short-line operator, it will continue providing freight service on the Peninsula.

Any short-line operator chosen by Union Pacific would need to be approved by Caltrain’s Board of Directors.

When Caltrain took over the tracks in 1991, Union Pacific’s predecessor, the Southern Pacific Transportation Company, reserved the “perpetual and exclusive right” to run freight service on the Peninsula corridor.

Whichever short-line company takes over freight hauling services from Santa Clara up the Peninsula will continue using diesel-powered cars, despite the electrification project.