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The freight train is still rolling despite a decline in coronavirus

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The freight train is still rolling despite a decline in coronavirus

The sound of traffic and airplanes has died down in much of Los Angeles County and California when health orders get people indoors.

But if you listen carefully, you will still hear train whistles as they transport and transport food, consumer products, chemicals and livestock to and from factories, shops, and ports throughout the country.

At the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, or BNSF, the transit center at La Mirada, Russ Abbott, a locomotive engineer, said that when the pandemic first struck, the only clue that life outside the railroad had changed was his faster travel between houses and work .

“It was very fast,” he said, describing the lack of traffic on the road. “That’s different.

“But here, no one is sick, we continue to drive the car and everything feels normal,” he said to a curious visitor who sat in the cabin of the 3,800 BNSF locomotive horsepower he was driving on a railroad track parallel to Stage Road in this regard. eastern suburbs of Los Angeles County.

Russ Abbott, a locomotive engineer, drives 3800 horsepower BNSF locomotives in the transit center for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway in La Mirada, California.

(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Over the past two months, the COVID-19 pandemic and lockouts have disrupted the national supply chain and have been hammering all sectors of the transportation industry. The railroad of goods transporters was also affected, but it did not reach the level of the airlines and car manufacturers.

That’s because trains carry important items during this pandemic, including frozen meat and vegetable oil, and chemicals such as chlorine bleach and sand for fracking. Abbott bears witness to this supply chain on his work day, soaking in click-click the wheels of the train, carrying thousands of tons of supplies, as they rolled across the joints and squatted from the railroad tracks.

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At La Mirada, the track runs from the northwest to southeast, behind the Home Depot, the International Paper warehouse, and the U.S. Food outlet A small spur carries the train west to the Amazon fulfillment center, the Frito-Lay warehouse and the Staples fulfillment center.

The railroad lines give these companies direct connections to the coastal ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, as well as the country’s vast interior.

And while Abbott enjoys moving back and forth between suppliers and distributors in the county, it is the Cajon Pass that he likes.

“I still feel cold every time I pass by,” he said, describing the beautiful journey through the mountains of San Bernardino and San Gabriel, which is now covered in bright poppies and wildflowers. “It never gets old.”

Tehachapi circle

The Tehachapi Circle is a three-quarter-mile spiral linking the San Joaquin Valley to the Mojave Desert, 77 feet high.

(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

And even though Abbott hasn’t changed drastically since the beginning of the year, there are differences, said Lena Kent, a BNSF spokesman.

Employees now mostly enter information and data via the iPad outside, so they don’t have to gather in the office; the train is swept between shifts; and operators and other employees wearing masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

“But safety has always been a mainstay,” said Kent, who noted that railroad crews, who work with powerful propulsion engines, are generally always small in number and spread.

Russ Abbott climbed to the BNSF 3800 horsepower locomotive

Russ Abbott climbed onto his BNSF locomotive.

(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

In addition, the volume transferred has shrunk, or in Kent’s words, “softened.”

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At La Mirada, depreciation is related to the decline in goods entering the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which have been hit by a combination of trade war disputes and an economic slowdown related to coronavirus.

On Thursday, Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, it was announced at a press conference that the movement was 80% from what this time last year.

Port statistics show container volume down 15.5%, and officials expect the business to remain “soft” for the next few months.

He noted a sharp decline in the fast fashion business, cars, scrap metal and steel, with an increase in products originating from Latin America.

Coronavirus Journal

Two Times reporters embarked on a journey throughout California to cover the most populous and diverse country during the coronavirus crisis.

On the railroad track, that is the movement of auto parts has dropped by more than 90% compared to the same week last year.

“We have moved from uncertainty” as a result of the trade war “to radical uncertainty,” said Mario Cordero, executive director Long Beach Harbor. “I don’t think anyone can predict where we will go as a country with our economy. … I don’t see normality for 2020, or for that matter for 2021. At least in terms of business normalcy. “

Cordero also points to empty sailing statistics, which is a scheduled ship cancellation. He said in the first quarter of this year, there were 61 empty voyages to the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. Forty-eight is expected for this quarter.

Lena Kent, spokeswoman for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, at the BNSF transit center on May 8.

Lena Kent, spokeswoman for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway at the BNSF transit hub.

(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

“That has never happened before,” he said, and that meant real money and jobs. Without doubt, that the reduction in traffic will affect all sectors of the supply chain, including railways, he said.

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Then there was a decline in coal demand, which paralyzed the economy in the Midwest and mountain states.

Last week, more than 340 BNSF employees were laid off in Montana and Wyoming, where coal demand has plummeted. Some BNSF railroad facilities in Montana, Wyoming, Kansas, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Nebraska are now permanently closed or temporarily reduced in size.

And other railroad companies, like Union Pacific, increasingly squeezed by the decline in demand for oil and coal, according to published reports.

While freight traffic has declined across the country, workloads remain “relatively stable” in the small center at La Mirada, Kent said.

More than 340 BNSF employees were laid off this month

More than 340 BNSF employees were laid off this month in Montana and Wyoming, where demand for coal has plummeted. While freight traffic has declined throughout the country, workloads have remained relatively stable at the hub at La Mirada.

(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Warren Buffett, whose Berkshire Hathaway owns the BNSF, remains optimistic about the US economy and the railroad industry, which has a climate footprint of only a fraction of trucking.

“Basically nothing can stop America,” Buffett said at the Berkshire Hathaway virtual shareholder meeting earlier this month. “American magic, American magic always wins and it will happen again.”

Times staff writer Susanne Rust and photographer Carolyn Cole are embarking on a road trip across California. They aim to vote for those in remote parts of the country as they wrestle with the worst health and economic disasters in our lives.

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Thiago Monteiro in 14th and 15th before the arrival of the WTCR in Portugal – Observer

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Thiago Monteiro in 14th and 15th before the arrival of the WTCR in Portugal - Observer

Portuguese driver Thiago Monteiro (Honda) finished 14th and 15th this Sunday in the two World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) races held in Aragon, Spain, which precede the Vila Real race.

The Portuguese rider always rode in the tail, he was hindered by the fact that Honda had more excess weight than his rivals.

“If they told me that I would be in this position, I would not believe it. But the reality is that we have not been able to withstand a number of adversities. From the moment when the pace is much lower than other rivals, we are prepared in advance. It’s heartbreaking,” the Portuguese rider began his explanation after the fourth round of the championship.

The Portuguese rider struggled to find the best balance in his Civic, as did his teammate, Hungarian Attila Tassi.

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“We still had problems, and we could not reach the full potential of the car. It was very difficult, unpleasant and discouraging, especially since we are going to Vila Real and this scenario does not suit me. But we will have to continue to look for our own path and believe that everything will work out, ”Thiago Monteiro concluded.

Belgian Giles Magnus (Audi) and Spaniard Mikel Ascona (Hyundai) won both races on Sunday.

Ascona leads the league with 129 points, while Thiago Monteiro is 16th with 12 points.

The WTCR competition in Portugal will take place next weekend in Vila Real.

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Joao Almeida became the champion of Portugal in cycling

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Joao Almeida became the champion of Portugal in cycling

This Sunday, Portuguese cyclist João Almeida (UAE-Emirates) became the Portuguese champion in cross-country cycling for the first time, winning the elite national championships held in Mogaduro.

In his first online race since Joao Almeida was forced to pull out of the Vuelta Italia after testing positive for the coronavirus, he won his first national title since becoming time trial champion in 2021.

Almeida crossed the finish line in Mogadora, covering the 167.5 km distance in 4:08.42 hours, 52 seconds behind Thiago Antunes (Efapel) second, Fabio Costa (Glassdrive-Q8-Anicolor) third, and Rui Oliveira (UAE). – Emirates), fourth.

In the end, João Almeida stated that he was “very pleased” with the victory, admitting that the race “went very well” and thanking his teammates.

Former national champion José Neves (W52-FC Porto) did not finish the race, as did Rafael Reis (Glassdrive-Q8-Anicolor) who won the time trial title on Friday.

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Portuguese military admits ‘it will take time’ until territory is taken under control

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Portuguese military admits 'it will take time' until territory is taken under control

The “path” chosen for about a year in the fight against rebel groups in the province of Cabo Delgado in northern Mozambique is “the right one,” Brigadier General Nuno Lemos Pires said in an interview with Lusa.

“Now, while the situation is not fully under control, we all understand that, as in any other counter-terrorism situation in the world, it will take a lot of time,” added the head of the European military training mission, although he acknowledged that this “ does not mean that sometimes there are no fears and failures.

However, “this is part of what constitutes an action taken against terrorists who operate in a very wide area, who in themselves have the initiative and the ability to hide in a very wide area,” he said.

In fact, he stressed, many of the recent attacks that have taken place in the south of Cabo Delgado in recent weeks are due to the fact that Islamist extremist rebels had to “flight from the north” of the province.

“Because this was a consolidated military operation carried out in close cooperation between the Mozambique Defense and Security Forces (FSS), [e com as forças d]Rwanda and SAMIM (Southern African Development Community Mission (SADC) in Mozambique), who were clearing out the intervention areas that existed in the area, the reaction of many terrorists was to flee the area, go further south, where they were not pursued. , and make new attacks,” he explained.

“In such cases, the initiative almost always belongs to the terrorists. There are few of them, they hide among the population, they move over very large territories, with a lot of dense vegetation, it becomes very difficult to find them, but you can easily move,” he continued.

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On the other hand, the Portuguese general emphasized, “it is now difficult for these groups” “to concentrate power and forces for large-scale operations, as was the case three years ago during the conquests, such as Mocimboa da Praia or Palma.” ,” he said.

“They don’t have that ability. Many of these attacks even demonstrate [estratégias] survival [clássicas das guerrilhas]. They’re looking for food, they’re looking for supplies, they’re searching deep down for a place where they can survive, because the area is already under quite a lot of control. [por parte] Mozambique FSS, Rwandan forces and SAMIM,” he explained.

In this context, Nuno Lemos Pires highlighted the “quick response” of the Mozambican authorities to each of these developments, starting with head of state Filipe Nyusi.

“I think it is exemplary that the moment there is a movement or a series of significant attacks in other areas, we immediately see the President of Mozambique heading north, linking up with his Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces (CEMGFA). , with the Minister of Defense, with the Minister of the Interior, and outline plans on the ground for a quick change of equipment and the ability to respond to such movements,” he said.

During one such trip to northern Mozambique in mid-June, Mozambican Interior Minister Arsenia Massingue said that Mozambican police were informing the “enemy” – the rebel forces in Cabo Delgado – about the positions of the FDS and allied forces on the ground.

However, Lemos Pires downplayed the situation. “We must be aware that there are infiltrations in any political system. It’s happening everywhere. Ignoring this dimension is tantamount to ignoring what is happening everywhere,” he said.

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“I don’t know of a single case of insurgency, counterinsurgency, terrorist or counter-terrorist combat where these leaks didn’t happen frequently. You need to be careful. .

In addition to the vastness of the territory that has been the scene of conflict and the topography favorable to insurgent guerrilla strategies, the porous borders with Tanzania to the north of Cabo Delgado and Malawi to the northwest also pose a danger. challenges the SDF and allied forces of SAMIM and Rwanda.

Lemos Pires also relativized this question. “We are talking about transnational terrorism, and it is good to understand that the situation in the north of Mozambique, in Cabo Delgado, is not limited and is not limited – and has never been limited – exclusively and exclusively to this region. A phenomenon that exists throughout Africa. , namely in Central Africa,” he said.

The UETM commander even took advantage of this circumstance to formulate an “extended response” to “a broad problem, a regional one, and the solution must also be a broad regional one.”

Therefore, “it’s very good what we see here on the ground, in fact, this is the unification of the efforts of regional African forces to try to deal with a problem that really worries everyone,” he concluded.

“What happens in one region can affect another. That is why it is in everyone’s interest that these groups be fought, detained and that the narrative that they are currently spreading can be counteracted – we hope that there are fewer and fewer successes,” the Portuguese general stressed.

NPS // PYAA

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Lusa/The End

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