Over a half-billion dollars in railroad freight stuck at Texas border crossings amid migrant battle

by Lori Ann LaRocco at cnbc.com

Major railroads Union-Pacific and BNSF, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, are urging the reopening of El Paso and Eagle Pass crossings so their freight can pass. Since the closure of these key Texas border crossings earlier this week in a battle over illegal immigration and a surge of migrants, almost half a billion dollars in trade has been halted.

Union Pacific says $200 million worth of trade moves in and out of these crossings a day. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced rail operations would be halted at El Paso and Eagle Pass, Texas beginning Monday in light of the surge of migrants crossing the border. Collectively both railroads operate 24 trains daily at these crossings.

BNSF told CNBC it was still working on an estimate of the economic impact amid a fluid situation.

These two border crossings represent 45% of Union Pacific’s cross-border business. Union Pacific has said for every day that the border is closed, the company is forced to embargo customers’ goods on more than 60 trains, or nearly 4,500 rail cars, with an equivalent of goods being held in Mexico. It is also a labor issue for the rail, with employees unable to work and no timeline available for when they may be able to return to the job, Union-Pacific said. BNSF also cited issues for employees who provide daily service on trains that cross the border, as well as what it described as significant downstream impacts on employees across its freight system, with affected trains typically traveling throughout a 32,500-mile network.