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ECONOMIC TURMOIL: Union Pacific Lays Off Dozens In El Paso

By ABC-7 Reporter Darren Hunt

EL PASO — It’s another sign of the struggling economy has hit the Sun City. Union Pacific has laid off dozens of local employees.

When the purchase of goods goes down, it only makes sense that the movement of those goods will decline as well. And if you haven’t noticed, it’s clear that fewer trains are coming through the Sun City.

Normally, about 70 trains per day will roll through El Paso. That number has fallen to about 40 per day over the past couple of months, according to officials.

“The economic situation has affected companies across the country,” said Raquel Espinoza, Media Relations Director for Union Pacific. “It’s affected us across our system. Union Pacific has experienced lighter demands and has made adjustments to its staff.”

Union Pacific officials said they have laid off nearly 3,000 employees nationwide. They would not say how many of those employees worked in El Paso, but one local engineer who wanted to remain anonymous said that they’ve laid off more than 60 of his fellow engineers.

“Today, I haven’t heard that many, probably a couple,” said Sandra Favela, who lives near the train tracks on Piedras. “I didn’t know what was going on. I’m used to listening to the horn blowing every day here in back of the house and now I hardly hear it.”

Union Pacific officials said El Paso is a vital link to the rest of the country. “Because it connects the ports of Los Angeles with the East Coast,” Espinoza said. “It all has to come through El Paso.”

And if or when the economy improves, Union Pacific officials say they’ll be ready. “We are very hopeful things will bounce back up,” Espinoza said. “We also have a strategy we’ve put together so we’re ready to accommodate business when it comes back.”

That strategy involves bringing back employees and engineers who have been laid off this Christmas. Union Pacific has nearly 50,000 employees nationwide, including about 1,000 in El Paso.

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