Amtrak suspends some long-distance routes ahead of possible freight train strike


Amtrak announced Monday that it would preemptively suspend service on some of its long-haul routes, primarily outside of Chicago, due to an impending rail strike.

Amtrak is closely monitoring ongoing freight contract negotiations between railroads and railroads. Negotiations do not include Amtrak or Amtrak’s workforce. “While we hope the parties will find a resolution, Amtrak has now begun phased adjustments to our services in preparation for a potential disruption to freight rail service later this week,” Amtrak said in a statement.

Among the suspended routes are long-distance routes from Chicago to Los Angeles, Chicago to Seattle and Chicago to San Francisco and part of one of its routes runs from Los Angeles to San Antonio.

Amtrak calls these “initial adjustments” and says “impacts can track on all long-haul and most state-supported routes.”

A labor dispute that could lead to the first nationwide railroad strike in 30 years could begin as early as Friday. About 60,000 union members who work for the railroad are due to strike, including engineers and conductors who make up the two-person crew on each train. Although another 45,000 union-affiliated union members have reached tentative agreements with the rail, a strike by engineers and conductors would bring the freight rail system, which carries almost 30% of the nation’s freight, to a complete halt.

Amtrak says the strike will “significantly affect” the 21,000 miles of route operating outside the northeast. In the northeast, where Amtrak owns the tracks, the effects will be less severe. Acela’s high-speed service, for example, will not be affected, but it says a “small number” of northeast regional departures will be affected.

Amtrak owns and maintains approximately 700 miles of track, primarily in the northeast passage from Boston to Washington. But nearly all of the remaining 97% of Amtrak’s roughly 22,000-mile system is on tracks owned and operated by freight railroads, according to the American Railroad Association.

CNN’s Vanessa Yurkevich contributed.