Step-by-Step Process for Shipping Dimensional Loads

A dimensional load is defined as a load with one or more of the following characteristics:

  • Width greater than 11' 0"
  • Height greater than 17' 0" above the top of the rail
  • Loads that overhang the ends of the rail car
  • Loads weighing more than 220,000 lbs. or requiring more than four axles

Step 1: Request Clearance

All of the above types of loads must be cleared by the Union Pacific Clearance Department prior to moving. Union Pacific Clearance Department will clear shipments on main line tracks only. Short lines will be required to clear shipments originating on the Short line's track.

Actual loading or unloading track must be cleared by local UP Operations and is accomplished via Union Pacific's Rail Access Review process. (See Step 3). Actual loading or unloading track located on a Short Line must be cleared by both the Short Line and local UP Operations. UP Operations and Short Line will be required to inform the Clearance desk of their review and approval.

By submitting a clearance request, the Rail Access Review process automatically begins after main line clearances are approved. Please contact your Union Pacific sales representative for current status of your Rail Access Review.

The shipper must receive clearance from the originating railroad. If the origin is located on a shortline or handling carrier, then the first linehaul carrier should be contacted. All clearance proposals originating on UPRR or on a UPRR direct connect Short Line must be submitted through the Web-based Dimensional Load Clearance Form.

*Note: This is a secure site and requires a User ID and password. If you do not have a user ID, you will need to register.

The following information will be required in order to submit clearance request:

  • Requesting Party's Name, Company & Address
  • Proposed Ship Date
  • Origin & Destination
  • Shipper & Receiver
  • Commodity
  • Shape, Dimensions & Weight
  • Load Type (Bolster, Overhang, Schnable, etc.)

Union Pacific will assess a charge of $500 for the preparation and provision of a Dimensional Load Clearance Form. The $500 charge must be paid before the UP Clearance Teamcan respond to your request. This charge only applies for UP-created clearance forms and does not apply to clearance files initiated by other carriers participating with UP in a particular interline move.

Union Pacific has implemented a Dimensional Service Review (DSR) to determine if operating resources are available to handle the dimensional shipment. The DSR will be required if any one of the following is involved:

  • Shipment width exceeds 13' 2" (13' 0" on the Northern Region which consists of the following states: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, Eastern Utah, and Wyoming.)
  • Shipment weight exceeds 500,000 lbs
  • Required speed is less than 45 mph
  • Special Train service is required
  • Schnabel, Bolster and Overhang cars are required
  • Loads requiring movement in corridors against the flow of traffic in directional-running territory

Shipments requiring a DSR will be managed through the following process:

Step 1 - The shipper of the proposed movement will submit the Dimensional Load Clearance Form online.

Step 2 - The UP Clearance Group will determine if the proposal requires a DSR.

Step 3 - If the proposed shipment does not require a DSR, the proposal will be processed by the UP Clearance Team just as it is today.

Step 4 - If the proposed shipment does require a DSR, the proposal will be sent through the DSR process to determine if operating resources are available to handle the proposed shipment. This process will be in addition to the current Dimensional Clearance Process.

  • UP will respond when both processes are complete (estimated timeframe is 30 days).
  • When both processes have been completed, your UP Marketing & Sales Representative will develop a freight rate applicable to the approved shipment.

Step 2: Obtain a Freight Rate

Freight rates on machinery not requiring a Dimensional Service Review (DSR) are contained in UP 4467 (Transformers, Turbines, & Generators) and UP 3435 (Other Machinery). The rates are available on the Price & Transit Time Inquiry ;page.

Freight rates in UP 4467 (Transformers, Turbines, & Generators) & UP 3435 (Other Machinery) are not applicable for shipments requiring a DSR. Please contact your Marketing & Sales Representative to obtain rates for these types of shipments. If you do not know who to contact, please call 800-877-0513.

*Note: Clearance and DSR approval must be received before your UP Marketing & Sales Representative can provide you with a rate.

Step 3: Industrial Track Agreement/Rail Access Review

An Industrial Track Agreement is a contract between Union Pacific and the customer for rights to utilize a UP track, private track, or to lease track from Union Pacific.

An Industrial Track Agreement must be in effect before a car can be ordered or shipped.  The track agreement allows Union Pacific to evaluate each shipment and identify the best place to load and unload the commodity.

By submitting a clearance request online, a Rail Access Review is automatically created to start the track agreement process. Local UP operations personnel will need to approve the loading and/or unloading track. Once approved, the track agreement will be developed by UP's Real Estate group. Contact your UP sales representative for an update on track agreement status.

Please visit Industrial Development for more information.

Step 4: Order a Freight Car

The shipper must order cars from the originating railroad. If the origin is located on a shortline or handling carrier, then the first linehaul carrier should be contacted. If UP is the origin carrier, you can order cars as follows:

  • Standard Flat Cars Idlers (*Note:  This is a secured site requiring a User ID and password. If you do not have a User ID, you will need to register.)
  • To request heavy-duty flat cars, please contact the UP Dimensional Clearance Department at 800-544-0541 or fax your request to 800-228-5976. Car orders should be placed at least six (6) weeks in advance of a loading date.

*Note: A rail car order cannot be placed until all of the following have been completed and verified by the UP Clearance Department:

  1. Movement must be cleared by all railroads (See "Step 1:  Requesting Clearance" )
  2. DSR (if required) must be completed and approved (See "Step 1: Requesting Clearance" )
  3. A freight rate must be obtained and a UP rate authority must be submitted on the bill of lading.  Team Track or Industry Track Agreements must be signed and in place. Additional information on Team Track or Industry Track Agreements.
  4. Final origin and destination Zone/Track/Spot must be identified and clearance must match that Zone/Track/Spot.

Step 5: Loading & Securing

The shipper is responsible for loading, tie-down, and securement of the load to the rail car. Prior to movement, shipper is responsible for providing center of gravity measurements on all loads. Lateral and Longitudinal Centers of Gravity must be on center of car in accordance with AAR Rules for Open Top Loading. Final Drawings depicting loading arrangement, including Center of Gravity in all three dimensions, must be faxed to:

UP Damage Prevention
Attn:  Brent Lichty 
Fax:  402-233-3333

Short Line will be required to inform the Clearance desk of their review and approval of the shipper information provided regarding the final drawings depicting loading arrangement, including Center of Gravity in all three dimensions.

Please visit Damage Prevention & Freight Claims for additional information.

Step 6: Receive Mechanical Inspection

All loaded dimensional shipments must receive securement inspection and measurements prior to shipment from the originating rail carrier. For items originating on a UPRR direct connect Short Line, the Short Line and the Shipper must contact the UP Clearance Department to arrange a mechanical inspection. Shipments will not be released for movement until the mechanical inspection has been verified by the UP Clearance Department. Please contact the UP Clearance Department at 800-544-0541 to arrange a mechanical inspection.

*Note: All loads must be approved by the UP Mechanical Department before the shipment can receive final clearance and be moved.

Step 7: Submit Billing Instructions

The bill of lading should be submitted through the web-based Bill of Lading Form. (*Note:  This is a secure site requiring a User ID and password. If you do not have a User ID, you will need to register.)

*Exceptions: Shipments requiring the use of idler cars or bolstered loads cannot be billed via the web-based form. Please contact the UP Clearance Department at 800-544-0541 to arrange billing for these types of loads.

Step 8: Monitoring Shipment

You can monitor your shipment online or call the National Customer Service Center (NCSC) at 800-272-8777