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Amtrak cancels all long-distance trains before potential railway strike

Amtrak canceled most of its long-distance routes starting Thursday in reaction to a potential railroad workers strike.

Why it matters: It is the latest disruption stemming from the looming labor strike which could start the moment Friday, which may result in a shutdown of all of the country’s railway system. It might be the initial U.S. railway strike in nearly three decades.

  • It isn’t likely to affect Northeast Corridor, since it is primarily owned by Amtrak.
  • Amtrak workers aren’t mixed up in labor dispute between your country’s largest freight railroad companies and their employees, but a lot of the passenger railroad’s long routes use track owned and maintained by the freight railroads.

The picture as a whole: The labor dispute is between BNSF, Union Pacific and CSX and a lot of the unions representing around 115,000 workers.

  • Ongoing talks between your freight companies and the workers have already been led by the White House.
  • The unions have threatened a strike if their requests regarding labor conditions and pay aren’t heard, and sick time policies have already been the principal impasse through the entire talks up to now.

What they’re saying: “While we have been hopeful that parties will reach an answer, Amtrak has begun phased adjustments to your service in preparation for a possible freight rail service interruption later this week,” Amtrak said in a statement Wednesday.

  • “This interruption could significantly impact intercity passenger rail service, as Amtrak operates the vast majority of our 21,000 route miles beyond your Northeast Corridor (NEC) on the right track owned, maintained, and dispatched by freight railroads. These initial adjustments include canceling all LONG-DISTANCE trains and may be accompanied by impacts to many State-Supported routes.”

Go deeper: With rail strike looming, two unions are holding out

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with new details throughout.

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