Bay Area Amtrak routes could be canceled as nationwide rail strike looms

ByTim Johns KGO logo
Tuesday, September 13, 2022
Bay Area Amtrak routes could be canceled as rail strike looms
Freight railroad workers plan to walk off the job Friday for better salaries and benefits -- a move could have detrimental impacts on the economy.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- In just a few days, many of the nation's trains could be coming to an abrupt stop.

It's all thanks to a potential strike by freight railroad workers, who are fighting for better salaries, benefits and time off.

If it goes through, tens of thousands of employees would walk off the job Friday - a move could have detrimental impacts on the nation's economy.

RELATED: Crippling nationwide railroad strike could happen as soon as Friday

"Time is money. So the delays and disruptions to supply chains can have a ripple on effect throughout these industries and all the related industries," said economist Julia Pollak.

Negotiations with railroad unions have been ongoing for weeks, but a few sticking points remain.

If workers do end up striking, economists say both consumers and businesses will feel the pinch.

30% of all the goods transported around the country are on freight rail.

"They've had to deal with one thing after another. Supply chain disruption, inflation, you know coming on the heels of a pandemic and lockdowns. So this will be very, very costly for them. It's estimated that it'll cost $2 billion a day," Pollak said.

But it's not just supply chains that could be hit by the potential strike. Amtrak commuters could also feel the impact if train tracks like these continue to stay empty.

That's because even though Amtrak isn't going on strike, nearly 21,000 miles of their commuter routes are on tracks owned by the freight railroads.

So if the strike happens, those routes would have to be cancelled.

Chelsea Shepherd takes one of them from Sacramento to the Bay Area every week.

"No, no, not at all. I had no idea. It doesn't seem like anyone else knew around me," she said.

Without it, Shepherd doesn't know what she'll do.

She says the inconvenience would be bad not just for her, but also her entire family.

"Definitely, because I don't have the type of vehicle where I can just drive 100 miles across so I rely on the public transportation," Shepherd said.

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