Tensions between freight railroads and their shipping customers remain high even as rail networks appear to operate more smoothly. The Wall Street Journal reports that the latest flashpoint in a troubled year for rail service is a dispute between Union Pacific and poultry giant Foster Farms.
The conflict has reached federal regulators, with the Surface Transportation Board ordering the railroad to deliver five trains to avert significant loss of livestock in California.
Freight rail service has largely improved over the past year, after pandemic disruptions to supply chains, staffing shortages and demand spikes disrupted the flow of goods. Shippers are still on edge over service issues, however, and have complained to regulators that efficiency efforts including staffing cuts and an operating plan known as precision railroading have undermined service.
Union Pacific says severe weather triggered its latest woes, but Foster Farms says things have deteriorated because of “systemic problems.”
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