A Conversation With Union Pacific President Beth Whited
When the inevitable rebound in international intermodal volume occurs, the Class 1 North American railroads’ performance will be under a microscope. Intermodal service was consistent and reliable in 2022, but was it only because volume was weak? Or have railroads learned their lessons from 2020-2022 and will handle volume surges better going forward? Many are worried that nothing has changed and, when West Coast port volume surges again, so will the crippling congestion at on-dock rail facilities and inland terminals in Chicago, Dallas, Memphis, and Kansas City. Union Pacific has made several investments to address how cargo owners are diversifying their supply chains. It has begun new service with Ferromex in Mexico, connecting shippers to the Midwest and Southeast US. It has begun new service between Port Houston and several Midwest destinations. It also has opened a new international intermodal terminal in Phoenix to capture some short-haul traffic from the Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach. The new services not only aim to take traffic off the highways but also to serve customers who are concerned about their carbon footprints. In this much-anticipated session, Journal of Commerce senior editor Ari Ashe will sit down with Union Pacific president Beth Whited to discuss these issues and how UP will keep the freight flowing in 2024.