Amtrak, other passenger trains suspend service as railroad strike looms

(NewsNation) — Commuters are facing a major hurdle this week following cancellations announced by Amtrak and other regional passenger lines in preparation for a possible rail worker strike Friday.

Amtrak said Wednesday that it was canceling all long-distance routes, effective Thursday, because of the possible strike by freight railroads whose tracks Amtrak uses.

Nearly 5,000 railway workers at the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) voted to reject a tentative contract agreement with railroads and authorize a strike, the union said Wednesday.

President Joe Biden’s administration was in constant meetings Wednesday with rail companies and unions at the U.S. Department of Labor, urging all sides to stay at the table and make a deal before Friday’s deadline to avoid a strike.

Amtrak began phased adjustments to its schedule earlier this week and said it was only continuing service on lines where trains could reach their final destination by Friday. Most routes in the Northeast Corridor, which connects Boston, New York and Washington, would not be affected because those tracks are owned by the company.

Other Amtrak routes canceled Thursday included: Capitol Corridor, Amtrak Cascades, Heartland Flyer, Illinois Service, Michigan Service, Pacific Surfliner (partial), Piedmont, San Joaquins, Springfield Service (north of Springfield), and Virginia Service.

The company said it will make an announcement regarding Friday services Thursday.

In Chicago, Metra, the rail service that carries passengers into and out of the city, said it was canceling some service on trains that depart locations after 9 p.m. Thursday. If the strike occurs, there will be no service Friday on the BNSF, Union Pacific North, Union Pacific Northwest and Union Pacific West lines.

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The San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission, which runs the Altamont Commuter Express between Stockton and San Jose in California, will reduce service Thursday and suspend all operations on Friday if the strike occurs.

In Maryland, the state Transit Administration has canceled service this week on the Camden Line of its MARC train service, and the Brunswick Line will be suspended Friday in the event of a strike.