Amtrak, the US’s largest passenger railway operator, announced Wednesday that it will cancel all long-distance rail service to avoid service disruptions ahead of a possible freight worker strike.
The cancellations are slated to affect long-distance routes beginning Thursday. The strike would be the first in roughly 30 years and could take effect as soon as Friday, grinding much of the US’s freight and passenger rail operations to a standstill. Amtrak uses many freight rail lines for its operations.
The potential stoppage is not expected to affect the heavily-trafficked Northeast Corridor, which Amtrak owns directly. The line connects some of the US’s most heavily visited cities, including Washington, D.C. and New York City.
“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,” Amtrak said in a statement, according to multiple reports.
“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 all Long Distance trains and could be followed by impacts to most State-Supported routes,” it added.
Negotiations were taking place at the US Labor Department in a bid to prevent a rail stoppage, with Labor Secretary Marty Walsh mediating the talks, the CNBC news website reported. A strike would cost the US economy roughly $2 billion per day, CNBC said.