Rail Transport Service Update: CN Railway & Union Pacific – 5/18/2020

At CLX Logistics, the health of our employees remains our top focus. Our dedicated team is in full operation under our Business Continuity Plan to provide our customers with complete support throughout this unprecedented time. Leveraging our technological capabilities and state-of-the-art systems, all of our employees are working from home without missing a beat in any mode of transport.

Our Rail Fleet Management and Operations department in the Global Transport division has been particularly successful amidst current challenges, as all major rail lines continue to operate fluidly. Rail transportation volumes haven’t been impacted as severely as other modes of transportation, but there are some decreases in usage due to the shutdown of many nonessential manufacturers and industries.

We remain in constant contact with customers and railroads to stay up to date on the latest information available and sharing it with you here. Today’s entry covers updates for two of the largest rail operators in North America: CN Railway and Union Pacific.


Currently, the US/Canada border is closed to nonessential international travel and tourism. Railroads operating between the two countries are determined essential and life-sustaining businesses, so the border closure does not affect the Canadian National (CN) Railway or the transportation of goods between the US and Canada.

The CN implemented its multi-phase Pandemic Plan on March 9. This plan includes an on-staff medical team and occupational health department working with WHO guidelines to coordinate with North American railroads on working under best practice methods. Those methods include:

  • Employee travel is restricted, and any employee who recently traveled from another country is required to self-isolate.
  • Self-isolation is required of all employees showing signs or symptoms of COVID-19, as well as those living with someone who has either tested positive or is being tested for COVID-19.
  • Increases in social distancing are implemented with staggered start and finish times to limit employee-to-employee contact. Work-from-home opportunities are available to all non-site employees.
  • Employees and their managers have access to a dedicated COVID-19 team to report any symptoms or to query about situations associated with COVID-19.
  • CN employees regularly informed on any additional measures taken under the Company’s Pandemic Plan.
  • Any area suspected of contamination will be evacuated and disinfected, and any employee in the area who may have been infected must to self-isolate.
  • CN employees accessing the premises of suppliers or customers can, upon request, provide a CN-issued Personal Health Certificate.

CN is now implementing a plan to gradually reopen offices and facilities with timing that aligns with guidelines from public health officials and local governments. All employees, contractors, and visitors at any CN facility are required to wear an approved facemask while on CN property as we begin the reopening process. CN also provided an instructional safety video to all employees detailing how to properly wear and remove a mask to help protect each other against the virus.


Union Pacific’s (UP) cross-departmental pandemic planning team was prepared to meet the challenges of COVID-19 head-on. Their previously developed business continuity plan, developed for exactly this type of situation, identified all employees essential to onsite operations, and provided clear direction to keep their transportation networks running smoothly.

UP reports that their rail network remains fluid, and no areas have been impacted for service by COVID-19 or border closures between the US and Canada and the US and Mexico. All key operating metrics for their quarterly averages remain strong:

  • Freight Car Velocity (daily miles per day) improved 8% YOY.
  • Freight Car Terminal Dwell (amount of time a rail car spends in a UP terminal/yard) improved 11% YoY.
  • Car Trip Plan Compliance (on-time shipment delivery) – Intermodal Trip Plan Compliance improved by 19 points, and Manifest/Auto Trip Plan Compliance improved by one point.

UP is balancing crews and locomotive resources to meet current volumes, but acknowledge they are fully prepared to throttle them back up promptly when the demand returns. As another cost control measure, UP management is taking a required leave of absence for one week each month until August while maintaining complete coverage.

UP is taking precautions to protect the health and safety of employees, such as distributing reusable face coverings to employees at all network facilities and is working with federal agencies and state and local officials on adhering to all mitigation protocols. It also continues to encourage all nonessential employees who can work from home to do so. UP’s current work-from-home guidance is extended to May 18.

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