Union Pacific Areas, Districts, Regions, and Service Units

Index For This Page

This page was last updated on March 1, 2023.

(Return To The Union Pacific Index Page)


Like most other railroads in the United States, Union Pacific has always separated its operations into administrative units for management purposes. The earliest were the Divisions and Subdivisions. As the railroad expanded into most of the western states in the 1880s and 1890s, the divisions became part of larger Districts. Districts remained as an administrative designation until the merger era of the 1980s and 1990s.

A new Western District was added in 1983, alongside the existing Eastern, Northwestern and South-Central Districts that were created in 1936.

Regions replaced Districts in 1986, but were eliminated in 1987 when Service Units were adopted. Regions were re-established in 1991 to add a management layer between 21 service units, and headquarters in Omaha.

Timetable Areas were adopted in 1998 as part of the overall reorganization to better integrate Southern Pacific into the Union Pacific network.

The relationship between service units and timetable areas has regularly changed to match ongoing operational changes to match business advances and declines, and to match day-to-day operations with day-to-day maintenance requirements. Traffic fluctuates over the span of years and operations need to be adjusted to make best use of resources, including personnel, equipment and physical parts of the railroad. These changes mean that the relationship between timetable areas and service units has changed regularly, and continues to be ongoing and seemingly constant. As yet no reference has been found that shows a direct correlation between timetable areas and service units, except in brief comments and special rules.

1936 Districts

The districts were fully formalized as part of the 1936 "Unification" and lease of the railroad's three largest subsidiaries.

-- The original Omaha to Ogden Overland Route mainline became the Eastern District, which also included lines in Kansas and Colorado.

-- The Oregon Short Line from Granger, Wyoming to Huntington, Oregon, became the Central District, which included the line into Montana.

-- The Oregon-Washington Railroad and Navigation portion from Huntington to Portland, Oregon, and on to Seattle, Washington, became the Northwestern District.

-- The Los Angeles and Salt Lake portion from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles became the Southwestern District.

In 1937 the Central District (OSL) and the Southwestern District (LA&SL) were consolidated and rearranged to become the South-Central District.

(Read more about the creation of operating districts on Union Pacific in 1936-1937)

1983 Districts

The districts created in 1936 and 1937 remained in place until Union Pacific's control of Western Pacific and Missouri Pacific in 1983.

The merger of Union Pacific, Western Pacific and Missouri Pacific was approved on December 22, 1982, and took effect on January 1, 1983. Missouri Pacific remained as a separate operation until 1987, but Western Pacific was integrated into the existing Union Pacific network as soon as the details were worked out. The first combined employee timetable was issued on June 12, 1983 (with its famous pink cover) and the former Western Pacific was shown as the newly created Western District. The new district was divided into the Western Division and the Eastern Division, with Flanigan, Nevada, as the point of separation.

(Read more about the UP-WP-MP merger)

The existing Eastern District, Northwestern District, and South-Central District on Union Pacific remained unchanged.

1986 Regions

The designation of Regions as a replacement to the districts came in 1986. This was on both the Union Pacific and the Missouri Pacific, which was being operated separately. The change was in preparation to the integration of Missouri Pacific into the Union Pacific network. The change from districts to regions was published in System Timetable No. 4, dated October 26, 1986, which was also the first to include all of the Missouri Pacific lines as part of the Union Pacific System. (The last MP timetable, System No. 2, was dated October 27, 1985, and included divisions and districts, but not regions.)

1987 Service Units

The designation of Service Units was yet another way of managing larger parts of Union Pacific. As already mentioned, divisions and subdivisions were the favored method of dividing the railroad into administrative units starting in the earliest days of the railroad as early as the 1870s. During the merger era that began in 1982, the complexities of merging two large successful railroads delayed the integration of the Missouri Pacific as part of Union Pacific. The operating departments were consolidated on January 1, 1986, and the final formal merger was completed 11 years later on January 1, 1997.

The integration of Missouri Pacific and Union Pacific following the consolidation of operating departments in 1986, brought the use of Service Units alongside the existing divisions. The first employee timetable to show service units was System Timetable No. 6, issued on May 15, 1988.

Although the concept of service units to replace divisions was adopted in 1987, as late as the October 1995 issue (the last issue before the SP merger), the timetables continued using the combined phrase "Division Service Units."

Maury Klein described the adoption of Service Units:

"We went from Divisions to Service Units. We flattened the organization"

The existing three regions (sic: districts) each had a general manager with an assistant and four superintendents reporting to him. Each region also had a full-blown staff that mirrored Omaha's headquarters staff. Each superintendent had his own little bureaucracy as well. Every decision, large or small, had to climb the ladder and that process could take forever.

The new plan created a centralized organization in Omaha presiding over thirty decentralized superintendents who ran the day-to-day operations. In place of the traditional mechanical, engineering, and transportation departments five new groups were formed: Service Operations, Service Resources (which included dispatching and the mechanical shops), Engineering Services, Contractor Services, and Service Design.

Walsh unveiled this new plan at a leadership conference in July 1987. As he explained it, the new organization centralized key policy and support functions while decentralizing key operating and implementation responsibility.

Beginning on September 17, 1987, with two service units, the changeover proceeded at a rate of two to four service units a week. By December 5 all three regions and twelve former divisions had been replaced by the thirty service units.

But within a year, those 30 service units were reduced to 24, and the three general superintendents were re-instated.

(Klein, Maury. Union Pacific: The Reconfiguration: America's Greatest Railroad from 1969 to the Present, Chapter 16, The Whirlwind, pages 223-225)

1991 Regions

Regions were eliminated in 1987 when service units were adopted. Regions were re-established in 1991 as a way to improve communication and decision making between the service units and headquarters in Omaha. The changes in 1988 that integrated the Missouri Pacific as part of the Union Pacific network had created 30 service units across the entire railroad. Managers soon found that headquarters was receiving too much local and day-to-day information to fulfill its larger strategic role, so a layer of management was added in the form of three Regions. Each of the three regions had its own General Superintendent and each region took over the administration of seven of the 21 service units (reduced from the original 30 service units). This change in 1991 also integrated the Missouri-Kansas-Texas railroad which Union Pacific had controlled since August 1988, and which was merged into Missouri Pacific in December 1989, to became part of the single Union Pacific network.

Three Regions:

1997 Regions

The merger with Southern Pacific brought chnages to the operational organizations.

Four Regions:

The following comes from "Update Line", published by the Union Pacific Communications Department, dated January 16, 1997.

Union Pacific has recently changed the boundaries, and in a couple cases, the names of the four regions comprising the system. The old Midwest Region and part of the Western Region is now called the Northern region. Beginning at Ogden, UT and McCammon, ID, it extends east covering the states of WY, CO, NE, IA, MN, WI and northern IL. The old Eastern Region is now call the Central Region covering southern IL, MO, northern AR, KS, OK, west TX, NM and AZ. The Southern Region is track south of Little Rock, AR and Ft. Worth, TX to the Gulf of Mexico and west to Alpine, TX. The Western Region consist of all states from UT and ID to the West Coast.

1998 Timetable Areas

The use of Areas as part of the employee timetables came in 1998 following the control of Southern Pacific in September 1996, and the severe service disruptions that began in July 1997. Solutions to the massive service disruptions took months of concentrated and focused activity by employees down on the line, and by managers at all levels. In spring 1998 planning began for a complete reorganization of all of the railroad's administrative units, and the completed plans were formally announced in August. The entire railroad was covered in a new series of 20 timetables that were issued on October 25, 1998, covering the 20 newly designated areas. The use of timetable areas remains in use today (2023), with a few changes in areas and area boundaries, along with the use of service units and larger regions as the method of managing operations on Union Pacific.

The change to areas was an effort to decentralize decision making. Maury Klein wrote, "to move more decision-making authority out of Omaha. Employees wanted more latitude to make decisions based on local conditions that they knew better than did Omaha."

Maury Klein continues...

In the spring of 1998 he [Davidson] asked Duffy to head a task force to determine what the newly merged system should look like. The team concluded that neither a quick fix nor incremental changes would work; what was needed was nothing less than a transformation. By August Duffy's team had come up with plans for a revamped organization that fit this need.

Duffy's plan divided the organization into three regions with a vice president in charge of each one. Steve Barkley, based in Houston, took charge of the Southern Region, Mike Kelly (Omaha) of the Northern Region, and Jeff Verhaal (Roseville) of the Western Region. The dispatchers remained at the HDC but were realigned to fit the new regional configuration.

First announced in August 1998, the new structure contained twenty-two operating units headed by superintendents. Support functions such as engineering and mechanical were also decentralized and reported to the regional head to enable quicker responses to local operating needs. The key to the arrangement lay in giving the regions considerable authority and responsibility while requiring them to work within a centralized plan.

(Klein, Maury. Union Pacific: The Reconfiguration: America's Greatest Railroad from 1969 to the Present, Chapter 16, The Nightmare, pages 384-386)

Districts, Regions, Service Units

Districts 1983

UP ETT System #7, June 12, 1983

(First to include WP lines)

Eastern District
- Nebarska Division
- Wyoming Division
- Kansas Division

South-Central District
- Utah Division
- California Division

Northwestern District
- Idaho Division
- Oregon Division

Western District
- Eastern Division
- Western Division

Regions and Divisions 1986

UP ETT System #4, October 26, 1986

(First to include MP lines)

Western Region
- Oregon Division
- Idaho Division
- California Division
- Feather River Division

Central Region
- Wyoming Division
- Nebraska Division
- Kansas Division
- Illinois Division

Southern Region
- Arkansas Division
- Louisiana Division
- Gulf Division
- Texas Division

(Regions were eliminated in 1987 with the adoption of Service Units)

Division Service Units 1988

UP ETT System #6, May 15, 1988

1 - Illinois (529 miles)
2 - St. Louis (850)
3 - Missouri (838)
4 - Kansas City (60)
5 - Van Buren (720)
6 - Wichita (1929)
7 - Kansas (670)
8 - Nebraska (750)
9 - North Platte (10)
10 - Cheyenne (1096)
11 - Wyoming (490)
12 - Memphis (489)
13 - Arkansas (877)
14 - North Little Rock (72)
15 - Red River (624)
16 - Fort Worth (217)
17 - Texas (1467)
18 - Palestine (592)
19 - San Antonio (734)
20 - Houston (543)
21 - Louisiana (622)
22 - Green River (747)
23 - Pocatello (927)
24 - Nampa (842)
25 - Spokane (1138)
26 - Sea/Port (764)
27 - Feather River (675)
28 - Nevada (841)
29 - Utah (743)
30 - California (431)

Division Service Units 1989

UP ETT System #7, Oct 29, 1989

Total Operated Road Miles - 22291.73

(First to include MKT lines; added as Service Unit 13, and rolled into existing Service Units 2 and 4)

1 - St. Louis (1422.49 miles)
2 - Midwest (1128.08)
3 - Kansas City (63.41)
4 - Van Buren (1461.41)
5 - Wichita (1979.11)
6 - Nebraska (1014.35)
7 - North Platte (9.36)
8 - Cheyenne (1227.14)
9 - Arkansas (993.95)
10 - North Little Rock (74.41)
11 - Red River (822.02)
12 - Fort Worth (375.78)
13 - Texoma (1758.66)
14 - Palestine (890.45)
15 - San Antonio (516.79)
16 - Houston (783.84)
17 - Louisiana (908.30)
18 - Green River (560.38)
19 - Idaho (850.62)
20 - Nampa (976.31)
21 - Columbia River (1790.81)
22 - Feather River (1112.02)
23 - Utah (1165.98)
24 - California (398.96)

Regions and Service Units 1991

UP ETT System #8, April 7, 1991

Total Operated Road Miles - 21215.05

1 - St. Louis (1366.35 miles)
2 - Midwest (2094.39)
3 - Kansas City (41.13)
4 - Van Buren (1250.38)
5 - Nebraska (942.62)
6 - North Platte (250.29)
7 - Cheyenne (1520.59)
8 - Arkansas (931.79)
9 - North Little Rock (72.07)
10 - Red River (1095.44)
11 - Fort Worth (349.52)
12 - Texoma (2068.27)
13 - San Antonio (851.96)
14 - Houston (989.80)
15 - Louisiana (695.86)
16 - Green River (597.14)
17 - Idaho (1532.02)
18 - Columbia River (1711.24)
19 - Feather River (1461.08)
20 - Utah (921.63)
21 - California (471.48)

General Superintendents:

Central (Service Units 2,3,4,5,6,11,12)
Southern (Service Units 1,8,9,10,13,14,15
Western (Service Units 7,16,17,18,19,20,21)

Regions and Service Units 1992

UP ETT System #9, October 25, 1992

Total Operated Road Miles - 19988.31

1 - St. Louis (1333.00 miles)
2 - Midwest (1839.66)
3 - Kansas City (60.88)
4 - Van Buren (1145.68)
5 - Nebraska (1208.70)
6 - North Platte (248.03)
7 - Cheyenne (1892.03)
8 - Arkansas (960.17)
9 - North Little Rock (41.80)
10 - Red River (1161.30)
11 - Fort Worth (281.89)
12 - Texoma (1300.25)
13 - San Antonio (783.53)
14 - Houston (774.80)
15 - Louisiana (598.70)
16 - Green River (935.70)
17 - Idaho (1642.09)
18 - Columbia River (1287.21)
19 - Feather River (1234.33)
20 - Utah (904.83)
21 - California (353.73)

General Superintendents:

Central (Service Unit 2,3,4,5,6,11,12)
Southern (Service Unit 1,8,9,10,13,14,15
Western (Service Unit 7,16,17,18,19,20,21)

Regions and Service Units 1994

UP ETT System #1, April 10, 1994

Total Operated Road Miles - 18200.11

1 - St. Louis (2067.52 miles)
2 - Council Bluffs (1977.54)
3 - Central (3039.29)
4 - Houston (1587.91)
5 - San Antonio (1923.71)
6 - Cheyenne (2456.61)
7 - Boise (1780.91)
8 - Los Angeles (2038.16)
9 - Little Rock Terminal (74.74)
10 - Kansas City Terminal (43.48)
11 - Fort Worth Terminal (295.91)
12 - Southern Terminals (219.88)
13 - North Platte Terminal (40.12)
14 - Western Terminals (185.43)
15 - Bulk Operations (268.98)
16 - Intermodal Operations (200.12)

General Superintendents:

Southern (Service Unit 1,3,4,5)
Western (Service Unit 2,6,7,8)
Terminal Operations (Service Unit 9,10,11,12,13,14)
Bulk Operations (Service Unit 15)
Intermodal Operations (Service Unit 16)

Regions and Service Units 1995

UP ETT System #2, October 29, 1995 (last issue before SP merger)

Total Operated Road Miles - 22,702.29

1 - St. Louis (1722.92 miles)
2 - Council Bluffs (1914.24)
3 - Central (2473.85)
4 - Houston (1824.19)
5 - San Antonio (1854.93)
6 - Cheyenne (2535.40)
7 - Boise (1824.27)
8 - Los Angeles (2032.17)
9 - Little Rock Terminal (74.74)
10 - Kansas City Terminal (43.48)
11 - Fort Worth Terminal (295.91)
12 - Southern Terminals (320.43)
13 - North Platte Terminal (40.12)
15 - Powder River (664.22)
16 - Intermodal Operations (200.12)
17 - Mexico Operations (61.04)
18 - Twin Cities (1951.43)
19 - Iowa (1786.90)
20 - Proviso (704.63)
21 - Chicago Commuter Operations (Metra) (377.10)

Transportation General Managers:

Southern Operations (Service Unit 1,3,4,5,17)
Western Operations (Service Unit 6,7,8)
Midwest Operations (Service Unit 2,18,19,20)
Terminal Operations (Service Unit 9,10,11,12,13)
Bulk Operations (Service Unit 15)
Intermodal Operations (Service Unit 16)
Chicago Commuter Operations (Metra) (Service Unit 21)

(Service Units not shown in employee timetables after 1998)

Regions and Service Units 2004

System Special Instructions, 2004

Service Unit #15, #21, #22 missing

NORTHERN REGION (6 Service Units)

1 - Twin Cities (St. Paul, MN)
2 - Chicago (Northlake, IL)
3 - Council Bluffs (Council Bluffs, IA)
13 - North Platte (North Platte, NE)
14 - Denver (Denver, CO)
23 - Commuter Ops (Chicago, IL)

SOUTHERN REGION (4 Service Units)

8 - Livonia (Livonia, LA)
9 - Houston (Spring, TX)
11 - Ft. Worth (Fort Worth, TX)
12 - San Antonio (San Antonio, TX)

WESTERN REGION (5 Service Units)

16 - Tucson (Tucson, AZ)
17 - Utah (Salt Lake City, UT)
18 - Portland (Portland, OR)
19 - Roseville (Roseville, CA)
20 - Los Angeles (Bloomington, CA)

CENTRAL REGION (4 service Units)

4 - St. Louis (St. Louis, MO)
5 - Kansas City (Kansas City, MO)
6 - North Little Rock (North Little Rock, AR)
7 - Wichita (Wichita, KS)

February 1, 2004
UP's Cheyenne and Denver service units were combined, with new headquarters being located in Denver. The new service unit included all former D&RGW lines in Colorado, as well as the old Kansas Pacific across Kansas, along with assorted branches in Colorado and the old UP mainline and associated branches across Nebraska (from O'Fallons) and Wyoming, west to Ogden, Utah.

Regions and Service Units 2021

System Special Instructions, 2021

NORTHERN REGION (7 Service Units):

Commuter Ops (Chicago, IL)
Great Lakes (Council Bluffs, IA)
Chicago Complex (Northlake, IL)
Great Plains (North Platte, NE)
Northern California (Roseville, CA)
Pacific Northwest (Portland, OR)
Rocky Mountain (Salt Lake City, UT)

SOUTHERN REGION (7 Service Units):

Gulf Coast (Spring, TX)
Houston Complex (Houston, TX)
Heartland (Kansas City, MO)
Mid - America (N. Little Rock, AR)
South Texas (San Antonio, TX)
Los Angeles Complex (Bloomington, CA)
Texoma (Ft. Worth, TX)

Timetable Areas

Timetable Areas 1998

Timetable Areas (20 Areas)

Chicago Area
Council Bluffs Area
Dallas/Ft. Worth Area
Denver Area
El Paso Area (replaced by Sunset Area in 2004)
Houston Area
Iowa Area
Kansas City Area
Livonia Area
Los Angeles Area
North Little Rock Area
North Platte Area
Portland Area
Roseville Area
Salina Area
Salt Lake City Area
San Antonio Area
St. Louis Area
Sunset Area (after 2004)
Twin Cities Area

November 2, 1998
The new Salt Lake City Service Unit took over the operations from the previous service units, known as the "cut over" date. (UP Online, Volume 4, Number 179, August 27, 1998; Volume 4, Number 180, August 28, 1998; Volume 4, Number 189, September 11, 1998)

Timetable Areas 2007

Timetable Areas (21 Areas)

Council Bluffs
Commuter Operations
El Paso
Fort Worth
Kansas City
Los Angeles
North Little Rock
North Platte
San Antonio
Saint Louis
Twin Cities

Timetable Areas 2021

Timetable Areas (19 Areas)

Council Bluffs
Kansas City
North Platte
Salt Lake City
St. Louis
Twin Cities.
Dallas / Ft. Worth
Los Angeles
North Little Rock
San Antonio


(The source for almost all of this narrative is the employee timetables. Interested persons can assume that much finer detailed dates and descriptions were issued with various bulletins and other internal communications, but these documents will likely never be available to interested researchers.)