Good report from Fox 16 on a stopped Union Pacific train that blocked the only access to a neighborhood off Hensley Road in southern Pulaski County for seven hours Wednesday night. It wreaked havoc on people going to and from work and they say such blockage is a regular occurrence.

Union Pacific said it was really sorry. It issued a statement:


In October 2018, we launched a new operating plan called Unified Plan 2020. At its most basic level, the plan is about moving cars to provide our customers safe, efficient and reliable service. In many cases, we are serving customers more frequently, picking up cars as they are available, rather than waiting for an entire train to be ready for departure. The Hensley community is seeing the impact of Unified Plan 2020 as we fine tune our service.

It is not our intention to block crossings for extended periods of time. We encourage drivers to report such occurrences to our 24/7 Response Center at 888-877-7267.”

Speaking of efficiency: Last month, Union Pacific announced 700 job layoffs, including closure of a shop in Pine Bluff. That Unified Plan 2020 was mentioned then.

“We are not providing location-specific information; however, I can confirm Pine Bluff and Hinkle were impacted and the Pine Bluff locomotive shop is closing,” UP spokeswoman Kristen South says. “The workforce reduction is a result of a reduced locomotive fleet. As we look for ways to streamline our work under Unified Plan 2020, we have removed more than 1,200 locomotives and approximately 30,000 freight cars from our network since Aug. 1.”

The fleet reduction is partly due to the easing of congestion on UP’s system and partly due to operational improvements since the Oct. 1 launch of an operating plan based on the principles of Precision Scheduled Railroading.

As the railroad moves the same amount of tonnage on fewer trains it requires fewer locomotives and freight cars — and not as many people to maintain them.

And move them.