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Amtrak begins suspending service because of possible freight rail work stoppage

By | September 12, 2022

Four trains to be suspended as of Tuesday; Northeast Corridor operations should continue

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Amtrak logoCHICAGO — Amtrak will begin suspending service on some long-distance trains as of tomorrow (Tuesday, Sept. 13) in preparation for a possible railroad work stoppage later this week.

Trains immediately affected will be the longest-duration trains — the Chicago-Los Angeles Southwest Chief; Chicago-Seattle/Portland Empire Builder; Chicago-Emeryville, Calif., California Zephyr; and the Los Angeles-San Antonio portion of the Texas Eagle. Other long-distance and most state-supported routes could also be affected as the Sept. 16 date for a possible work stoppage draws closer.

In a statement, Amtrak said it is “closely monitoring” the ongoing rail labor negotions, which do not involve the passenger carrier or its workforce.

“While we are hopeful that parties will reach a resolution, Amtrak has now begun phased adjustments to our service in preparation for a possible freight rail service interruption,” the company said in its statement. “Such an interruption could significantly impact intercity passenger rail service, as Amtrak operates almost all of our 21,000 route-miles outside the Northeast Corridor (NEC) on track owned, maintained, and dispatched by freight railroads. … These adjustments are necessary to ensure trains can reach their terminals prior to freight railroad service interruption if a resolution in negotiations is not reached.

“Most travel within the Amtrak-owned Northeast Corridor and related branch lines to Albany, N.Y., Harrisburg, Pa., and Springfield, Mass., would not be affected: Acela would operate a full schedule, and only a small number of Northeast Regional departures would be impacted. Amtrak will reach out to impacted and potentially impacted customers, informing them of the potential situation, offering to change their reservation to another travel date, waiving any difference in fare for departures through Oct. 31, or receiving a full refund without cancellation fees.”

12 thoughts on “Amtrak begins suspending service because of possible freight rail work stoppage

  1. Slightly off topic, but no mention in this column or even chatting with Amtrak, will 97/98 (Meteor) ever be back or just another long distance train killed. The Florida market coiuld be well operated by private operation and profitable.

  2. Reading about the possible cancellation of Amtrak trains in response to the possible rail strike, left me in a quandry. I am scheduled to travel to Reno, NV from Bakersfield, CA this week, I called Amtrak, waited about 15 minutes for a “live” agent, and he checked my reservation and trip, and informed me that Amtrak would run as scheduled. Great news, but then I thought what if the strike cancels the return leg of my trip? The agent said I could get a refund on the unused portion of my reservation – but would still have to take a Greyhound back to Bakersfield.

  3. Current management only cares about NEC and has little if any true rail experience. They cancel LD trains at the mere mention of a potential problem. We all know IF there is a rail shutdown it’s not going to last but a few days. As was stated the unions don’t have a beef with Amtrak and have nothing to gain by shutting Amtrak down. On the other hand the freight railroads are more than happy to see Amtrak trains disappear. And current Amtrak leadership is more than happy to grant them that.

  4. But if the ATDA is drawn into this even though they settled, there will be no one to control Amtrak train movements over the struck Class 1s unless there are enough qualified supervisors to operate the territories and stay within HOS regulations. Prediction: Once cancelled these LD trains will never be restored after things settle down whatever the outcome.

    1. Newsflash: Management isn’t covered by HoS, and it would need to be qualified management personnel manning the dispatch computers.

  5. Sorry, AMTRAK. Shutdown makes no sense. Only two unions have not reached an agreement — the engineers/conductors and the maintenance of way staff. Unless you would need a pilot you wouldn’t need the former, and you would only need the latter for a track issue. Again, another excuse for senior leadership to get out of the long distance business.

    1. Wrong, Maintenance of Way employees have reached a tentative agreement as well, it’s only the two operating unions that have failed to reach agreement. SMART-TD and BLE, that’s the only two recalcitrant unions, moaning about quality of life when they CHOSE to work for the railroads.

  6. Last time the freight side strikes in 91, the Unions allowed Amtrak to run because their beef was with the freight Railroads. The unions felt that stopping passenger service would hurt their cause.

    1. But how about lock-out by the companies? Isn’t it standard S.O.P. to shut down when understaffed, and/or when no revenue is coming in?

    2. I worked at Amtrak in Whitefish in 91. I was escorted to the picket line by a BLE official. I asked the pickets if the had had a problem with me crossing. They said no and let me go to work.
      Crews that work Amtrak trains work for Amtrak.

  7. I checked the web site as I have a ticket for tomorrow morning. If you plug in a given train for tomorrow that’s to be canceled, you get a cancellation notice with no explanation. The various news and information pages say nothing, just the usual happy talk.

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