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Union Pacific shutters operation of multimodal service Cold Connect

Photo credit: Flickr/Arvell Dorsey Jr.

Customers were notified early May 8 that Union Pacific (NYSE: UNP) was ceasing operations of its multimodal service Cold Connect, which offered end-to-end transportation service for refrigerated loads.

UP spokeswoman Kristen South confirmed the closure, citing sluggish market conditions as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

On “Friday, May 8, we notified employees that Cold Connect, a Loup Logistics service that moves refrigerated products from the West Coast to Union Pacific’s warehouse in Rotterdam, New York, will permanently close and most Cold Connect-related positions have been eliminated. This decision was not made lightly,” South said.

Customers “were notified that Friday was the last day we accepted inbound orders. Our intention is to deliver on all product in transit, until it meets its final destination. A reduced staff will temporarily remain in position to execute these final commitments,” South said.

UP purchased the assets of Railex, a refrigerated rail and cold storage distributor, back in January 2017 to strengthen its presence in transporting fruits, vegetables and other temperature-sensitive cargo by rail. The purchased was viewed by some as a way to take market share in the refrigerated business away from truck, which at the time was facing a tightening market.

But a Cold Connect representative told FreightWaves that low freight rates and consumers moving toward purchasing shelf-stable items, like canned goods, rice and beans instead of fresh produce amid the coronavirus pandemic, contributed to declining sales.

“Since acquiring the Railex assets in 2017, employees diligently worked to grow volumes and create a platform for the future; however, with COVID-19 impacting volume and truck prices, it is no longer sustainable to continue operations,” South said.

Loup Logistics, a UP subsidiary, arranged door-to-door transportation services of refrigerated goods using its Cold Connect platform that allowed trains to load and unload shipments of produce, wine, frozen foods and dairy products through its cold storage and distribution facilities in Delano, California, Wallula, Washington, and Rotterdam, New York.

The company had hoped to significantly grow the Cold Connect platform by moving more fresh produce from truck to rail in 2020, according to Kari Kirchhoefer, vice president of Loup, in an interview with Inside Track in late 2019.

“We’re building a truck on each end, using warehousing to mix multiple fresh produce commodities — like carrots, onions and potatoes — and deliver to market in a timely manner,” said Kirchhoefer. “To the customer, it appears as a truck on both ends and they don’t know it moved via rail during its journey.”

According to UP’s website, the Delano site and Wallula site each offered expedited service via UP to Northeast destinations. UP partnered with CSX (NASDAQ: CSX) to provide service at Rotterdam.

Joanna Marsh, FreightWaves’ staff writer, contributed to this report.


  1. Me

    Useless Pacific is one of the most greediest companies there is around today. They are still making RECORD profits yet they are using the China Virus as an excuse to shut down more and more and lay off more and more employees. Corporate greed at its finest. They care nothing at all about their employees. Where are you at Trump. You talk about MAGA and creating jobs yet you let the devil that runs this company continue to cut and get rid of jobs. Stop them. Quit giving them tax breaks and tell them if they are going to continue cutting jobs then they will receive no tax breaks. Do this to all the greedy corporations. They want to cut more and more jobs but receive tax breaks and subsidies to add to their bottom line. Why? The American people are tired of this greed and it needs to stop. It’s not the China Virus. It’s Viscenso Vena and Lance Fritz cuttong and using this as an excuse to get bailout money and add to their bottom line. Stop this madness.

  2. Chelle73

    This is one of the absolute worst times in this country to not only close up shop in a hurry but to pull the rug out from good hard working employees during a pandemic. I sincerely wonder how some can sleep at night knowing they are leaving people who helped grow their business, and make a profit are the ones being left out in the cold. I hope the company is doing SOMETHING for these people, it’s their livelihoods. My heart goes out to all the employees affected and their families.

  3. Tom Hellen

    Union Pacific is a horrible company. I might know, I had to work the last 22 years of my career there. Dump Fritz. Dump Vena. Dump the whole board of directors. Dump the private jet(s) and the whole flight department. Dump EHH’s “PSR.” The railroads are not run by railroaders anymore. Run by clueless bean-counters only to enrich themselves and their Wall St. overlords. Dump Trump. It’s all about Wall St. vultures now. That Trump tax cut for the rich and big corporations really has helped the common man. Thank God Almighty I’m retired now, but that doesn’t help my brothers and sisters who still struggle to survive working for that miserable company.

  4. Jim place

    I work on cold connect in Rotterdam, it is sad to see the heartless way we are losing our jobs especially since the freight numbers coming into the warehouse has been going up. Greed rules the country and lack of action by the squatter in our White House caused this

  5. Randy Thompson

    I worked for the Union Pacific for 35 years. I have never seen such cold-hearted money-grubbing ruthless leadership as they currently have. I hope their greed leads them into BANKRUPTCY.

  6. Barbara Collins

    So UPRR would you rather pay more taxes or would you rather lose your thriving business? You gambled with that one didnt ya, you know when you were so excited about those tax cuts. Now look at you! Everyone got their tax cuts alright and now they are involved and living through the worlds worst leader taking them down into his 7th bankruptcy. CV or not that guy cant lead his way out of a wet paper bag. You Corporations better get used to this. Its gonna be a long one.

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Clarissa Hawes

Clarissa has covered all aspects of the trucking industry for 16 years. She is an award-winning journalist known for her investigative and business reporting. Before joining FreightWaves, she wrote for Land Line Magazine and If you have a news tip or story idea, send her an email to [email protected] or @cage_writer on X, formerly Twitter.