CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. (News10)-Some freight rail carriers and the unions representing their employees have become gridlocked in labor negotiations and it could end in a strike. Why should you be concerned? A strike could worsen supply chain problems and might impact your travel plans.
The issue centers around contract negotiations between railway carriers and two unions with employees demanding better working conditions and quality of life on the part of companies like CSX, which also operates in the Capital Region. The freight carriers and unions are currently in a cooling off period, but the deadline ends on Friday and if a deal isn’t sealed, there could be a strike. President Biden, who has pressed both sides to hammer out an agreement has warned of severe supply chain issues if that happens.
But, commuters may be impacted as well. Dikemm Edmundson frequently rides Amtrak to visit his mom. Because some of the freight carriers in negotiations own and maintain some of Amtrak’s rail lines, a strike could impact his travel plans. “Things like this make me question and make me really evaluate and think of a ‘Plan B’ just in case,” he said.
Amtrak has nothing to do with the negotiations or a looming strike, but they are preparing for a possible disruption, telling News10 they say they have begun phased adjustments to service. The company says they are canceling some Long Distance routes starting Tuesday September 13th and this could be followed by impacts to all Long Distance and most State-Supported routes. However, most travel within the Amtrak owned Northeast Corridor will not be affected as well as the related branch lines to Albany, Harrisburg, PA and Springfield, MA.
Information from Amtrak:
Tuesday, September 13, Update:
Amtrak will be pre-emptively canceling trips over an additional seven Long Distance routes to avoid possible passenger disruptions while enroute on Wednesday, September 14, 2022.
Amtrak is closely monitoring the ongoing freight rail – rail labor contract negotiations. The negotiations do not involve Amtrak or the Amtrak 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 later this week. 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 initial adjustments include canceling some Long Distance routes starting on Tuesday, September 13, 2022, and could be followed by impacts to all Long Distance and most State-Supported routes. These adjustments are necessary to ensure trains can reach their terminals before freight railroad service interruption if a resolution in negotiations is not reached.
Most travel within the Amtrak-owned Northeast Corridor (Boston – New York – Washington) and related branch lines to Albany, NY, Harrisburg, PA, and Springfield, MA 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 October 31, or receiving a full refund without cancelation fees.
Aside from potential travel troubles, Dikemm and other consumers are also bracing for goods and products and inflation issues. “Dealing with inflation right now, it could hurt the prices of food, which we don’t need. The prices of everything that’s transported through trains.” He’s now keeping his fingers crossed hoping that any strike can be averted.