Union Pacific Railroad has existed since 1862 and still moves the nation’s freight by rail, even traveling through Waxahachie. Dan Harbeke, Director of Public Affairs for the company, presented to Rotary members about the many benefits of Union Pacific to the economy and growth of the nation. The rail company has been in existence since 1862 when President Lincoln signed the Pacific Rail Act. Union Pacific continues to add to the US transportation industry and remains a national leader in the field.
Union Pacific operates several mixed freight trains through the Waxahachie area daily while BNSF Railway also has rail and operations in the region. Of the 33,000 miles of rail that UPRR owns in the western two-thirds of the United States, over 6,000 of those miles are in Texas alone. Union Pacific covers 23 states and has over 8,000 locomotives in operation. They have an extensive workforce, focusing on hiring veterans. UPRR currently employs over 8,000 Texans and has plans to hire more as they continue to grow operations in the state.
Safety remains the focus for Union Pacific and the freight rail industry, and Harbeke assured citizens that Union Pacific has been working on a number of efforts whether the installation of Positive Train Control or their Crossing Assessment Program. “The company is committed to safety and is seeing that it does its part in leading the industry when it comes to our employees, our customers, and in the communities where we operate,” he stated. At the local level, the company continues to work with local road authorities to improve crossing systems and safety features.
Union Pacific Railroad also has their Union Pacific Foundation that gives back to qualified local nonprofits in their service areas. Several Waxahachie nonprofits have received funding over time and can apply for grants to improve the community. Keep Waxahachie Beautiful has been a recipient of some of these grants in the past. The Union Pacific Foundation will open its grant application system in April 2018 and will help organizations that look to improve on community safety, public spaces, workforce development, or any other specific need of the community. For more information about Union Pacific or its Foundation, please see their website at www.up.com/aboutup/community/foundation.