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The Wall Street Journal: Railroads set to prevent transport of hazardous materials before strike deadline

Freight railroads said they’re likely to halt the transport of hazardous materials and sensitive cargoes, such as for example chemicals found in fertilizer and chlorine for water purification, because they continuenegotiations with two labor unions.

Railroads have informed customers they may stop accepting certain forms of freight, including bulk shipments, beginning Monday in order to avoid materials being unattended or unsecured in the event of a work stoppage. Rail customers such as for example agricultural companies are evaluating contingency plans, including shutting down processing plants amid rail delays, or hiring alternative transportation providers such as for example trucking companies.

The ripple ramifications of the railroads plans are extending beyond freight traffic. Amtrak said it could begin reducing some passenger services Tuesday by canceling trips over three long-distance routes.

The freight railroads have previously reached new labor deals or are completing tentative agreements with 10 unions, and so are in continuing talks with two groups representing about 66,000 workers. Both remaining unions, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, and SMART-Transportation Division, said Sunday that the railroads plans to restrict cargo is really a proceed to extort a contract settlement and they remain at the bargaining table.

The talks involving railroad labor groups and companies includingNorfolk SouthernCorp. NSC, +0.29% andUnion PacificCorp. UNP, +0.98% have already been going on for months.

An expanded version of the report appears on WSJ.com.

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