Amtrak begins to cancel trips ahead of a possible railroad strike


Hundreds of thousands of Americans could find their travel plans disrupted by a looming strike by railroad workers, including some commuters in the Washington region.

Major railroad unions plan to strike Friday if they cannot resolve contract disputes.

Many Amtrak routes use tracks owned by freight companies embroiled in the dispute, so a walkout at the end of the week would halt many passenger and commuter services. Already this week, Amtrak canceled some trips that link Chicago and the West Coast because they did not want to disrupt multi-day trips.

In the Washington region, Virginia Railway Express (VRE) warned of sweeping cancelations if CSX Transportation, Norfolk Southern and labor unions can’t reach a deal.

“Any labor strike would result in the immediate suspension of all VRE train service until a resolution is reached,” the railway said. “We of course hold out hope for a resolution — by all concerned — before the Friday deadline.”

The VRE said commuters should make alternate travel plans ahead of Friday and it would stay in touch with riders as events unfolded.

Maryland’s MARC commuter train, which uses CSX rails, said it would have to suspend Camden and Brunswick Line service but the Penn Line would remain in operation.

Amtrak said service would not be interrupted on the busy Northeast Corridor from Washington to Boston — the rail service own most of its tracks in this segment — but some train routes south of Washington would be affected.

Elsewhere, New York City’s MTA said its commuter rail lines would not be affected and New Jersey Transit did not expect problems.

Rail workers are threatening to strike if they do not win changes in the carriers’ policies related to long hours, paid leave, and being on-call.

The White House said it is hopeful for a resolution before Friday’s deadline, particularly because a disruption in freight operations could hamper supply chains. It is balancing its concerns about disruptions for everyday Americans with its support for labor unions and their concerns.

“The unions and companies are still at the table, which is incredibly important. They’re negotiating in good faith, as the president and Cabinet secretaries have pushed for these past several months,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. “We have made crystal clear to the interested parties the harm that American families, businesses and farmers, and communities would experience if they were not to reach a resolution.”


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