Possible freight rail strike won't impact commuter trains in Tri-State

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Wednesday, September 14, 2022
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Commuter railroads in the Tri-State region do not expect to be impacted by a possible Friday freight rail strike as Amtrak cancels routes.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Commuter railroads in the Tri-State region do not expect to be impacted by a possible Friday freight rail strike.

About 60,000 railroad workers are set to go on strike Friday if their union reps can't come to an agreement on a new contract with rail companies. It would be the first national railroad strike in 30 years.

Unlike much of the country, where commuter rail networks wholly or partially operate on tracks that are owned by freight rail companies, MTA, NJ Transit, and even SEPTA, generally do not run on freight tracks and expect to continue to operate Friday in the event of a work stoppage.

"The MTA's railroad employees showed up and moved New Yorkers even during the toughest days of COVID," MTA Chief of External Relations John J. McCarthy said. "We are confident they will respect all Agreements and remain committed to transporting riders to their destinations."

NJ Transit runs a small section of its Raritan Valley Line, between Cranford and Newark, on Conrail tracks. A small section of the Atlantic City Rail Line also runs on Conrail tracks. But NJ Transit has been assured by Conrail that there will be no impacts by a Friday strike.

"We don't anticipate any impact on NJ TRANSIT rail service," the company said in a statement. "We have been working closely with Conrail and have assurances that they will have mitigation measures in place at the appropriate areas on the Raritan Valley Line and the Atlantic City Rail Line to ensure there are no impacts to NJ TRANSIT service."

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Amtrak expects "no impact" to Northeast Corridor and Acela between Boston and Washington, and only "minimal changes" to Northeast Regional services.

The company said Empire Service between New York and Albany; Keystone Service between New York and Harrisburg, Pa.; the Amtrak Hartford Line between New Haven and Springfield, Mass.; and the Downeaster between Boston and Brunswick, Maine, will not be affected by a strike.

Nationally, Amtrak began canceling some long distance trains Monday, and trains that operate outside of the Northeast Corridor will mostly stop operating if freight rail tracks are unavailable.

Some of those services, like the Lake Shore Limited from Chicago and the Silver Star from Miami, arrive in Penn Station New York and will not run if there is a strike -- as a majority of their tracks outside the region are operated by freight rail lines.

Amtrak's list of the 14 suspended routes include:

Suspended services starting Tuesday, Sept. 13:

-Southwest Chief

-Empire Builder

-California Zephyr

-Train #421 portion of the Texas Eagle (Los Angeles-San Antonio)

Suspended services starting Wednesday, Sept. 14:

-City of New Orleans

-Coast Starlight

-Crescent

-Lake Shore Limited

-Silver Star

-Sunset Limited

-Texas Eagle

Suspended services starting Thursday, Sept. 15

- Auto Train

-Capitol Limited

-Cardinal

-Palmetto (south of Washington)

The other routes that begin or end at Penn Station include Crescent, Cardinal and Palmetto.

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