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Rail problems in the West targeted

Railroad service in the Western states is under investigation by federal regulators.

The Surface Transportation Board says it is looking into rail problems in the West, which "most recently have involved the lines of the Union Pacific and Southern Pacific railroads."The Transportation Department agency, successor to the defunct Interstate Commerce Commission, has scheduled an Oct. 27 public hearing in Washington.

The announcement came as Union Pacific announced plans to unclog its congested lines, a move that would include releasing business to other railroads.

Faced with mounting service complaints from shippers, the railroad filed a service recovery plan Wednesday with the Surface Transportation Board that spelled out Union Pacific plans to move up to 40,000 cars off the railroad.

Union Pacific is experiencing growing pains in its year-old merger with Southern Pacific. The consolidation created the country's biggest railroad, with 35,000 miles of track.