Railroads are doing everything they can to keep supply chains moving during the pandemic. But they are also taking other special measures at this time. In Part I of “Stories from around the Railroad during COVID-19,” we heard stories about keeping grocery store shelves stocked, supplying N95 to health care workers, shipping both the raw materials for toilet paper as well as the finished product, and more.
Railroads continue to deliver during the pandemic, and they continue to take extraordinary measures, too. These are the latest stories of their efforts.
Expedited Service for Medical Supplies
IV bags are in high demand right now — nearly every person admitted to the hospital receives one, and they are critical supplies for blood banks and ambulatory services. Before they get to medical facilities, IV bags often move by rail in intermodal containers. “Medical Supplies Get 'Fast Pass' for Union Pacific Trains” tells the story of how Union Pacific is giving priority service to shipments of IV bags and other medical supplies to aid in the COVID-19 pandemic response.
Ready to Help the Economy Recover
U.S. West Coast ports are the fastest way to move medical supplies and other essential goods coming into the U.S. from Asia, including things like masks, gowns, gloves and other critical personal protective equipment. “West Coast Ports: We’re Open and Ready for the Rebound” tells the story of how these ports and Union Pacific Railroad are also positioned to react to a surge in demand as pandemic restrictions lift and consumers begin feeling comfortable with returning to work, dining out and shopping. U.S. West Coast ports and Union Pacific have the capacity to handle volume surges as the economy recovers and the world rebounds from the pandemic.
Freight Railroads Move Critical Raw and Finished Goods
During the COVID-19 pandemic, trucks have gotten a lot of attention for keeping the flow of goods moving. In “Coronavirus – Our freight rail network also delivering for America during COVID-19 pandemic,” Ian Jeffries, Association of American Railroads (AAR) president and CEO, explains that while trucks are indispensable during the pandemic, railroads are equally important. While not as visible as trucks, railroads are moving critical raw and finished goods. This is the story of how railroad workers are doing their part to help the country during this time.
Kids Provide Hope and Encouragement to Essential Workers
“My Dad Is Essential” shares the story of Lliyah, Khyson, Zayden and Isaiah Pha, whose dad Somnang “Sam” is a Union Pacific track machine operator. As an essential railroad worker, Sam travels to highly affected areas every time he leaves for work. To bring awareness to the sacrifices their dad and other railroad workers are making, Sam’s kids drew signs and sidewalk art honoring their dad and other railroad workers. Their story lets readers view essential work through a child’s eyes, and is intended to provide hope and encouragement to all of the railroad and other essential workers.
Short Lines on the Front Lines
Freight railroads are playing a critical role keeping America’s supply chains moving during COVID-19. An important part of that rail network are short line railroads, which provide first- and last-mile delivery and are often the final link between suppliers and customers needing critical goods. The American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association’s (ASLRRA) page, “With a Nation in Crisis, the Short Line Industry Delivers What is Needed” hosts dozens of stories about how short line railroads are delivering during the fight against COVID-19.
Manifesting Hand Sanitizer
When Union Pacific employees needed hand sanitizer to help stay safe as they keep America moving during the COVID-19 pandemic, the company got creative. A team of employees worked together to gather the raw materials to make hand sanitizer, including rubbing alcohol, hand soap and aloe vera gel, as well as 48,000 squeeze bottles in which to package it. The company then teamed up with Omaha, Nebraska, business Brickway Brewery & Distillery, which already was producing hand sanitizer for first responders and hospitals, to mix and package the railroad’s sanitizers. “UP Joins Forces with Omaha Distillery to Make Hand Sanitizer” is the story of how teamwork, ingenuity, and business partnerships resulted in giving railroad workers the supplies they need to stay healthy.
Awarding COVID-19 Relief Grants
Union Pacific Railroad’s Community Ties Giving Program awards grants to support causes in the communities in which the railroad operates. Traditionally, these fall into the categories of Safety, Workforce Development, Community Spaces and Local Needs.
But given the unprecedented impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Union Pacific Foundation has allocated additional funding for COVID-19 Relief Grants to address critical community needs associated with the pandemic, both within and outside of the designated areas. This is the story of ramping up giving in a time of acute need.
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.