Union Pacific Railroad and Southern Pacific Lines will retain 98 percent of their current combined 36,000-mile route system if their planned merger is completed.

The plans, the first concrete indication of the companies' post-merger operating intentions, call for cutting 782 miles of track in eight states."This is consistent with what we said earlier, when the merger was announced," said John Bromley, a UP spokesman. "We need the capacity. This will put to rest any speculation (about larger cutbacks). It is less than people expected. The vast majority are relatively short pieces of railroad we can abandon because we have a better route and improved connections."

Among those endangered segments are two mainline routes used by SP in Colorado and Kansas.

Post-merger traffic from those lines would be funneled over existing UP and SP routes.

One heavily used line on the block is 173 miles of SP's route through Tennessee Pass in the Colorado Rockies, which handles East-West traffic.

That route, which has some of the steepest grades of any mainline U.S. railroad, would be retained if the merger is not consummated, according to Lawrence H Kaufman, an SP spokesman.

The Tennessee Pass line would be needed because it is the route SP uses for domestic double-stack freight and other shipments that cannot fit through the Moffatt Tunnel, located along another SP route through the Rockies.

The other route in jeopardy is a across Kansas and Colorado that is maintained and operated by SP but owned by UP.

A total of 162 miles of that line could be eliminated, including 40 miles at the east end near Herington, Kan., and 122 miles in the western portion about 25 miles east of Pueblo, Colo.

Another lengthy segment is 93 miles of SP's so-called Modoc line south of Klamath Falls, Ore., which is used as a shortcut for eastbound lumber traffic. That traffic could move over UP instead after a merger.

The information was made public in order to meet legal requirements that shippers and other interested parties have three years' notice of potential changes in rail lines' status.

That is done through the announcement of changes in the "system map," a document railroads are required to file with the Interstate Commerce


"We could have waited (to file changes in the system map) until the (merger) application is filed," Mr. Bromley said. "In the merger application time frame we are talking about (filing by Dec. 1), we felt it was necessary to get this set now and make it part of the application."

Other candidates for abandonment include:

* In California: Reno Junction-Peavine, Whittier Junction-Colima Junction, and Melrose-Magnolia (all UP).

* In Utah: Little Mountain Branch (UP) and Welby-Magna (SP).

* In Arkansas: West Memphis-Wheatley (SP); Jonesboro-Cherry Valley and Gurdon-Camden (UP).

* In Kansas: Newton-Whitewater (UP).

* In Texas: Troup-Whitehouse (UP); Suman-Bryan, Cypress-Navasota, Victoria- Placedo and Seabrook-San Leon (all SP).

* In Louisiana: Lake Charles-Iowa Junction (UP).

* In Illinois: Barr-Girard and DeCamp-Madison (UP).