Amtrak, the national passenger rail carrier, announced on Wednesday that it’s cancelling most of its long-distance routes, starting Thursday, anticipating a strike by freight railroad workers, which could start as early as Friday. 

“Amtrak is closely monitoring the ongoing freight rail – rail labour contract negotiations. The negotiations do not involve Amtrak or the Amtrak workforce. 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”, the operator said in a statement, adding, “These initial adjustments include cancelling all Long Distance trains and could be followed by impacts to most State-Supported routes. These adjustments are necessary to ensure trains can reach their terminals before freight railroad service interruption if a resolution in negotiations is not reached.” 

Refunds and notice 

Amtrak will attempt to notify all travellers at least 24 hours prior to departure if their trains will be cancelled. They’ll offer full refunds if trains are cancelled and will move reservations to another travel date without charging any fare difference, through October 31.  

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Routes affected 

Among Amtrak trains that are likely to be cancelled are the Auto Train between Virginia and Florida and other interstate routes. As per Amtrak, state-sponsored trains could also be impacted once the strike starts. 

Since Amtrak owns the trains on the Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington, there’s likely to be little interruption, and the carrier plans on operating a full Acela schedule too.

Commuter route impact 

Commuter trains that rely on freight railroad trackage could face issues over the upcoming strike. Metra in Chicago has already issued a warning, as has Virginia Railway Express in the DC area.

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The freight railroad strike is impacting passenger trains because many of the tracks are operated by freight railroads and continuing on that turf will be tough if workers go on strike.