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September 11, 1996

UP-Southern Pacific Merger Creates Largest U.S. Railroad

Over the years the Southern Pacific expanded to more than 13,000 miles of rail covering most of the southwestern United States, including the Central Pacific’s original Sacramento-to-Ogden line. On July 3, 1996, the newly formed Surface Transportation Board approved the UP-SP merger. The new system covered 31,000 miles through 24 states and ran 2,000 trains a day. With the merger, Union Pacific became the largest rail company in the United States — and saw its history come full circle as it became the owner of both halves of the first transcontinental railroad.

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The Surface Transportation Board (STB) was created in 1996 after the Interstate Commerce Commission had been abolished. Part of the U.S Department of Transportation, the STB is an economic regulatory agency that oversees railroad industry mergers, rate disputes, abandonments and construction.

In 2012, Union Pacific celebrates the shared stories that have shaped our country since 1862. To mark our 150th anniversary, we invite you to explore how the nation’s largest railroad came to be and how UP continues to build America with innovation and tenacity, touching the lives of nearly every citizen.