Approximately 90 jobs in Bailey Yard’s car repair department will be eliminated, workers were told Wednesday.

Seventy-eight workers will be laid off and 12 will retire, according to a source who asked not to be identified for fear of job reprisal.

Approximately 330 people work in the car department, so this round of layoffs will reduce the car shop workforce by more than 25%.

The 90 layoffs will remove about $6 million a year from the local economy, based on an average wage of $32 per hour.

Layoffs in the car shop have been feared since February, after about 85 mechanical workers in the yard were let go, most of whom worked in the diesel shop where locomotives are repaired.

Later, in another round of layoffs in early April, 45 more mechanical jobs were cut, but jobs at the car department remained secure until June 5.

However, in confirming the layoff announcement Wednesday, Union Pacific spokeswoman Raquel Espinoza said managers at the Yard were notified in March that it was coming.

Espinoza said the reduction is the result of fewer locomotives and rail cars in UP’s 23 state system. She said if business improves, employees could be called back to work.

Bailey Yard is the world’s largest railroad classification/hump yard. It is said to have about 2,000 employees, compared to 2,600 a decade ago, according to Train magazine reports.


South Morrill closes

The Bailey Yard layoffs came just two days after all remaining jobs at South Morrill Yard in western Nebraska were eliminated. The yard will close, although the area may still be used as a place to change crews, an employee said.

The Scottsbluff Star Herald said the layoffs Monday were to 30 workers at the small mechanical shop in South Morrill. Previously, 68 jobs were cut there at the larger shop where major repairs were done, and some of those workers were transferred to North Platte.

The job reductions are part of a reorganization of Union Pacific’s overall operations under its “Unified 2020” plan, the company has said. That plan calls for much longer trains that make fewer stops. Also, UP hopes to switch long “blocks” of rail cars by parking them on sidings along the main lines, where another locomotive could pick them up, reducing the number of single cars that are switched through hump / classification yards.

Also, more layoffs are possible to the Pacific Fruit Express crew at Bailey Yard, although nothing has been set yet. PFE is a separate company that has taken care of refrigerated rail cars for Union Pacific for more than a century.

On March 25, North Platte’s PFE crew was reduced by 8 positions, leaving 17 jobs. An unconfirmed source said those 17 might shrink to 8-9, but added that it is too soon to know for certain.