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Railroads are the Lifeblood of this Country

Reader Comment#4 on Chinese Rooster Year Outlook, Part 2

by Anonymous
February 21, 2005

I am a conductor working for the Union Pacific Railroad.

Our Long Beach intermodal facility is the largest in the nation. Any disruption of service at this location would be devastating to the economy. Check with the people that bring the food into your local warehouse facilities. Ask them, "If rail service were cut off, how long would you be able to supply the stores with groceries?" I would wager that they will tell you 7 to 10 days, (if there was not a run on the stores as happened during the Cuban missle crisis in the 60's [stores were cleaned out in a 3 day period]).

The heavy rains in late January in the Southwestern U.S. were totally awesome. I have been employed by the UP (Union Pathetic) for 31 years. I have never seen operations closed down for more the 36 hours in the worst situation. Here we had a rain storm that totally disrupted rail operations for a 2 week period. Unbelievable! (the main line was washed out in 17 places over a 70 mile strech in Utah & Nevada, the high waves along the California coastline undermined the track. Major rain washed out sections of track in the area north of L.A.

The sheeple of this country have no idea what a major disruption of rail serivce would mean to our way of life. It would be a matter of days before whole industries would shut down.

They think that the trucking industry would pick up the slack. One container train coming out of an intermodal facility is the equivilant of 100 to 180 double trailer semis headed down the freeway. We move one of these monsters with 2 people (a conductor, and an engineer) on board, across the country. It works on the old pony express theory. At a crew change location (every 200 miles, approx.) the inbound crew brings it into the terminal, the outbound crew mounts up, and off they go (the horses don't even get a break). It is an amazing thing to watch in action. The citizens of this country take so much for granted. They do not have a clue. Almost every item that they use in their daily life comes in on a freight train. The railroads are the lifeblood of this country, and the people are clueless. All they really care about is who gets thrown off the island.

I digress here.

The devastaion in your earthquake scenerio would be unbelievably disruptive to the flow of goods and the economy of this nation. Moderate damage at one of the intermodal facilities would take weeks to months to repair. In the interim, industry would shut down.

Our domestic automakers are good for less than 24 hours without railcar deliveries (it is called "parts on demand" to minimize warhouse costs). But this pales in comparisom to the essentials that this nation depends on from the nations railroads. Food, coal for electrical generation, homebuilding materials, autos, and last but not least toilet paper (think about it). I can imagine the damage that would result from the earthquakes that you allude to. I realize how fragile the infrastructure of our country is.

The American people need to wake up to the fact that they are totally dependant on other people for their survival.

Turn off the TV and think!

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