Unit and Sweep Train Procedures
Union Pacific requests that our customers submit a rolling 30-day forecast to Union Pacific via the Car Forecast System. Union Pacific understands that in some circumstances it may be difficult to provide a rolling 30-day forecast. Power, crews and other resources are planned based on this forecast, so it is imperative that our customer's forecast is entered no less than 14 days prior to pick-up. Anything less than 14 days advance notice will hinder our ability to provide adequate resources. Union Pacific also assumes that when a train is in the Car Forecast System, it will release on the requested pick-up date.
Unit and sweep train cancellations and/or revisions to pick-up date are subject to UP 6004, Item 9623. Customer can adjust their pick-up request 48 hours prior, without penalty. The 48 hours will be calculated from the 09:00 cut off time on the forecasted date of release.
Customer will update information when changes are made. (This includes changing release dates, adding trace/buffer cars, changing destinations, or deleting a train.) If the date of the release is changed less than 48 hours from requested pick-up date, please contact the Bulk Desk at 800-726-1104.
PRE-RELEASE: In the Car Forecast System, at least three hours prior to release (billing) of train, customer will fill in trace car and buffer cars and click on the pre-release button to notify the bulk group that the train will be completed as planned. No final release is necessary. (Trace and buffer cars can be input at any time prior to pre-release.)
Customer will bill the cars once loading is complete, on the scheduled date of shipment. Once the cars are billed, the Bulk Desk will be automatically notified. Ethanol customers are responsible for supplying buffer cars for unit train shipments (see “Buffer Car Waybill Procedure from Ethanol Unit Train Origin” below.)
Buffer Car Waybill Procedure from Ethanol Unit Train Origin
- Buffer cars must be entered into the Car Forecast System within three hours prior to release of train.
- A loaded waybill must be submitted on each buffer car.
- Buffer car waybills should reflect commodity STCC code and be designated with the Special Handling Code of "ZZ".
Buffer Car Waybill Procedure from Unit Train Destination
A loaded waybill must be submitted on each buffer car.
The waybill should reflect commodity STCC code and be designated with the Special Handling Code of "ZZ" and destination that empty unit train is returning to.
Buffer Car Requirements for Ethanol Unit and Sweep Trains
Buffer cars are to be supplied and maintained by the shipper and must pass rail car inspections. Failure of rail car to meet inspections will result in Union Pacific reserving right of refusal to provide train service. Buffer cars are considered non-revenue cars when moved within a unit or sweep train of ethanol. Mileage Allowance payment will not apply.
Buffer cars are to be placed between the locomotive engine and ethanol cars as required by Federal Regulations. This applies to both loaded and empty last contained cars. Two loaded buffer cars are required for all unit and sweep trains destined to facilities in California; Texas; Sauget, Illinois; and Midland, North Carolina (CSXT). One buffer car will be in place at the head end of the train, with the second buffer car being in place at the rear end of the train —except for trains destined to Midland, North Carolina (CSXT) where both buffer cars must be placed at the head end of the train. One loaded buffer car is required for unit and sweep trains interchanging to the CSXT or NS except as noted above. The one buffer car will be in place at the head end of the train.
Buffer cars must meet the following requirements:
- Must be a boxcar, covered hopper, gondola or tank car. The buffer cannot be a flat car.
- Must have a high-strength coupler (grade E coupler).
- The length of the car must be at least 45 feet and not greater than 75 feet.
- Must be loaded with a non-hazardous inert material that does not shift in train service.
- Gross weight of car must be a minimum of 45 tons.
- It is the responsibility of the shipper to provide buffer cars that are in good mechanical condition. If a car fails inspection, Union Pacific retains the right to refuse to provide train service.
Empty Returning Sweep Trains
The customer will be responsible for diverting empty cars (coming from the East prior to Chicago) to block cars for the return. The head end of the train goes to the first location, and the rear end of the train and the buffer car go to the last and final destination.
UP Bulk Desk
Manager of Asset Management