When a global pandemic strikes, what do railroads do? The first answer is “keep running.” Every day, railroads support the nation by delivering critical resources – and that doesn’t change, even in the event of shelter-in-place orders. Railroad employees are considered "Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers” – the people who must continue working to keep the businesses essential to public health, safety, the economy and national security in operation. Railroad workers are included on this list because of their important role in keeping supply chains moving.
But it’s not just business as usual for railroads. Railroads are doing everything they can to keep supply chains moving, but they are also taking other special measures during the pandemic. These are a few of those stories.
Keeping Critical Goods Flowing
The American Association of Railroads piece, “Railroad Workers Keep Critical Goods Moving,” takes a broad look at the rail industry’s role in delivering critical products during the COVID-19 pandemic. From agriculture and energy to manufacturing and public health, roughly 150,000 railroad employees are keeping the rail network running so that railroads can continue to serve as a critical link to the nation’s businesses and society.
Delivering During Difficult Times
“America's Lifeline: Supplying Communities with the Goods to Survive a Pandemic” tells the story of how items in greatest demand right now are riding the rails. Hear from a Union Pacific conductor and two Union Pacific customers about how freight trains are moving the goods communities need most in a national emergency.
Responding to a Call for Help
When Dr. James Linder, chief executive officer of Nebraska Medicine, requested N95 masks, hand sanitizer and isopropyl alcohol to help his organization properly serve the community, Union Pacific answered the call. With a supply of extra N95 masks on hand, the masks were shipped from nine network warehouses to a Council Bluffs, Iowa, warehouse; 6,600 N95 masks were delivered to the hospital shortly thereafter. Union Pacific also connected Nebraska Medicine’s Supply Department with a hand sanitizer supplier. “Just Doing Our Part: UP Donates 6,600 N95 Masks to Nebraska Medical Center” tells the full story.
Toilet Paper: Shipping the Raw Materials and Final Product
As toilet paper flies off shelves as soon as it arrives, railroads are shipping the pulp from which it is made and the final product itself. “From the Factory to Rails to Your Store's Shelves” tells the story of how it all works – and the role boxes play, too.
Keeping Grocery Store Shelves Stocked
As people rush to stock up on shelf-stable items due to the COVID-19 situation, grocery retailers also rush to replenish their supplies. As a result, many are experiencing bogged down warehouses. They must coordinate the trucks coming and going, and there is only so much space available for new product. “The Grocery Store Roller Coaster: UP Offers Unique ‘Ticket’ with Cold Connect” tells the story of how Union Pacific offers its customers a “just in time” solution with Cold Connect through Loup Logistics, serving as the grocery industry’s support system to get products like frozen pizzas, canned goods and fresh produce delivered exactly when they’re needed.
Running the Railroad from a Distance
Union Pacific Railroad operates one of the largest office buildings in Omaha, Nebraska, where its headquarters is located. The Omaha World Herald tells the story of how the railroad shifted to remote work to keep employees safe and the railroad running.
Railroads are playing a critical role during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have any questions about how the railroad keeps supply chains running even in times of crisis, get in touch.
- More Stories from around the Railroad during COVID-19
- The Important Role of Railroads in the Time of COVID-19
- COVID-19 Railroad Resources
- What Can You Ship by Rail?
- Transportation Modes Revealed: Rail