Central Corridor (Union Pacific Railroad)

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Central Corridor
BNSF Moffat Tunnel Subdivision (16128745762).jpg
A BNSF Railway freight train passes the Gross Dam on the Moffat Tunnel Subdivision
Owner Union Pacific Railroad
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge

The Central Corridor is a rail line operated by the Union Pacific Railroad from near Winnemucca, Nevada to Denver, Colorado in the western United States.[1] The line is in use for freight, and provides the route of the California Zephyr. The BNSF Railway has trackage rights on the entire line. The Utah Railway has trackage rights from Salt Lake City to Grand Junction, Colorado. The line was created after the merger with the Southern Pacific Transportation Company by combining portions of lines built by former competitors. No portion of the line was originally built by the Union Pacific; in fact, some portions were built specifically to compete with the Union Pacific's Overland Route.

Route description[edit]


Proceeding east out of Winnemucca, the route follows the Humboldt River, in a directional running setup with the Overland Route until Wells, Nevada.[1] From Wells to Salt Lake, the route, known as the Shafter Subdivision, loosely follows the historical route of the Hastings Cutoff across the Great Salt Lake Desert to Salt Lake. The route tunnels underneath the Pequop Mountains and crosses the Toano Range via Silver Zone Pass. The eastern approach to Silver Zone Pass features a near 360 degree horseshoe curve known as the Arnold loop.


The route enters Utah at Wendover and crosses the Great Salt Lake Desert and the Bonneville Salt Flats, parallel to Interstate 80 and the Wendover Cut-off, en route to the southern shore of the Great Salt Lake and Salt Lake City. Upon reaching Salt Lake City, the line turns south and follows the Jordan River through Point of the Mountain towards Spanish Fork.


The highest point on the line is the Moffat Tunnel. Aside from Tennessee Pass, this is the highest point on the Union Pacific System.[2]


All of the Central Corridor was built by former competitors to the Union Pacific. The portion from Winnemucca to Salt Lake City, Utah was originally part of the Feather River Route, built by the Western Pacific Railroad, acquired by the Union Pacific in 1983. The portion from Salt Lake City to Grand Junction, Colorado is the former Utah Division of the Denver and Rio Grande Western (D&RGW). From Grand Junction to Dotsero, Colorado was part of the Tennessee Pass Line, also built by the D&RGW. From Dotsero to Denver, Colorado used the Moffat Tunnel Route, built by the Denver and Salt Lake Railroad. The portion east of Salt Lake City came under the Union Pacific's control from the 1996 acquisition of the Southern Pacific Transportation Company.[3] The Western Pacific and D&RGW portions of the line were part of the Gould transcontinental system.


  1. ^ a b UPRR Common Line Names (PDF) (Map). Union Pacific Railroad. Retrieved 2009-01-04. 
  2. ^ "UP:Highest Elevations". Union Pacific Railroad. Retrieved 2009-01-04. 
  3. ^ "Chronological History". Union Pacific Railroad. Retrieved 2010-11-03.