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Despite Coal Downturn, Union Pacific Is Full Steam Ahead On Wyoming Rail Improvements

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As the coal industry faces deep uncertainty over its future, coal-hauling Union Pacific railroad is going full steam ahead in investing in rail infrastructure in Wyoming.

Union Pacific is working on a $13.5 million project to update rail infrastructure between Laramie and Hanna. The railroad is repairing road crossings and replacing ties and rails. Union Pacific spokesman Mark Davis says updates like these keep the track in good working condition.

"Trains can operate at their maximum speed. Which is extremely important not only from a safety standpoint, but also it keeps the network fluid where trains are able to operate very efficiently," he says.

Davis also says better infrastructure helps prevent derailments, which are down 38 percent in the last decade.

And, Davis says, reduced coal shipments won’t impact Union Pacific’s structure or its investments.

"We have six very definite areas where we have traffic that operate. And out of those areas, for example, if coal is down typically one of our other business aspects, whether it be automobiles or agriculture, picks that up," says Davis.

This year Union Pacific Railroad set aside $51.5 million to improving infrastructure in Wyoming. The improvements between Laramie and Hanna are scheduled to be completed in September.

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