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The freight train is still rolling despite a decline in coronavirus



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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Portuguese historical films will premiere on 29 December.



Portuguese historical films will premiere on 29 December.

Method Media Bermuda will present the documentary FABRIC: Portuguese History in Bermuda on Thursday, December 29 at the Underwater Research Institute of Bermuda.

A spokesperson said: “Method Media is proud to bring Bermuda Fabric: Portugal History to Bermuda for its 5th and 6th showing at the Bermuda Underwater Observatory. In November and December 2019, Cloth: A Portuguese Story in Bermuda had four sold-out screenings. Now that Bermuda has reopened after the pandemic, it’s time to bring the film back for at least two screenings.

“There are tickets For $ 20 – sessions at 15:30 and 18:00. Both screenings will be followed by a short Q&A session.

Director and producer Milton Raboso says, “FABRIC is a definitive account of the Portuguese community in Bermuda and its 151 years of history, but it also places Bermuda, Acors and Portugal in the world history and the events that have fueled those 151 years.

“It took more than 10 years to implement FABRIC. The film was supported by the Minister of Culture, the Government of the Azores and private donors.

Bermuda Media Method [MMB] Created in 2011 by producer Milton Raposo. MMB has created content for a wide range of clients: Bermuda’s new hospital renovation, reinsurance, travel campaigns, international sports and more. MMB pays special attention to artistic, cultural and historical content.

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Maestro de Braga is the first Portuguese in the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba.



Maestro de Braga is the first Portuguese in the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba.

Maestro Filipe Cunha, Artistic Director of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Braga, has been invited to conduct the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra, as announced today.

According to a statement sent by O MINHO, “he will be the first Portuguese conductor to conduct this orchestra in its entire history.”

In addition to this orchestra, the maestro will also work with the Lyceo Mozarteum de la Habana Symphony Orchestra.

The concerts will take place on 4 and 12 March 2023 at the National Theater of Cuba in Havana.

In the words of the maestro, quoted in the statement, “these will be very beautiful concerts with difficult but very complex pieces” and therefore he feels “very motivated”.

From the very beginning, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 will be performed by an Italian pianist (Luigi Borzillo), whom the maestro wants to bring to Portugal later this year. In the same concert, Mendelshon’s First Symphony will be performed.

Then, at the second concert, in the company of the Mexican clarinetist Angel Zedillo, he will perform the Louis Sfora Concerto No. 2. In this concert, the maestro also conducts Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony.

“This is an international recognition of my work. An invitation that I accept with humility and great responsibility. I was surprised to learn that I would be the first Portuguese member of the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra. This is a very great honor,” the maestro said in a statement.

“I take with me the name of the city of Braga and Portugal with all the responsibility that goes with it, and I hope to do a good job there, leaving a good image and putting on great concerts. These will be very special concerts because, in addition to performing pieces that I love, especially Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky, I will be directing two wonderful soloists who are also my friends. It will be very beautiful,” concludes Filipe Cunha.

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