Amtrak suspends all long-distance routes before strike deadline

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Amtrak announced Wednesday that it was suspending long-distance routes by the Friday night deadline to avoid a strike along freight rail lines nationwide.

Amtrak said in an emailed statement it was taking steps to avoid stranding passengers en route to their destinations. Much of Amtrak’s long-distance service runs on freight tracks.

The company had already suspended 10 of the 15 routes when it announced around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday that service on its five remaining long-distance routes would be suspended.

It said most travel in the Amtrak-owned Northeast Corridor and related East Coast branch lines would not be affected and service on its Acela Express Line would continue to operate on a full schedule.

Earlier Wednesday, Midwest commuter rail carrier Metra said several Chicago-area routes would be canceled before the deadline. The cancellations, which will take effect Thursday evening, will affect 23 trains on the BNSF Railway, Union Pacific North, Union Pacific Northwest and Union Pacific West lines.

A full list of affected Metra trains can be found here.

Negotiators for the rail carriers and unions met in the office of Labor Secretary Marty Walsh on Wednesday as the parties tried to broker a deal, CNBC reported. The meeting began just after 9 a.m. ET, CNBC said, and continued until noon.

“The parties are negotiating in good faith and are committed to staying at the table today,” a Labor Department representative told the network.

The Associated Press reported that as of 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, a union had already rejected a deal. The railways must reach an agreement with all their unions to avoid the strike, the AP said.

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