Railroad strike could bring big delays, expensive hassles for SoCal commuters, businesses

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Wednesday, September 14, 2022
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If railroad workers go on strike, it could delay commuter rail service as well as the delivery of food and other products.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- With a labor strike looming, Amtrak has suspended passenger service for several cross country routes.

A potential railway strike could also derail deliveries of food and other items and cause disruptions to passengers.

"Oh my goodness that would be horrible because a lot of people use this to commute. Saving gas money and everything like that or if you don't have transportation. That's how they get to work," said one passenger at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles.

About 40% of long-distance goods move by train. A strike could cause more problems to the supply chain.

The dispute is between railway carriers BNSF and Union Pacific and two unions that represent conductors and engineers. The main issues are sick time and time off.

Jared Tinkham is a union member and says "The sick time, just trying to get us some sick time to be able to take care of ourselves and our loved ones. We chose to be married and bring children into this world and that's what we're fighting for, is quality of life."

Metrolink says portions of its trains in Orange County, the Inland Empire and Ventura County travel across track operated by the companies involved in the dispute. Those lines could see complete or partial service cancellation.

Amtrak is not involved in the negotiations either but it would be affected. In a statement it said "Because the parties have not yet reached a resolution, Amtrak has begun to make initial service adjustments in response to a possible freight railroad service interruption that could occur later this week."

So far Amtrak is suspending service for the Southwest Chief route from Chicago to Los Angeles and the California Zephyr route from Chicago to San Francisco.

Jonathan Spangler was taking a train from Los Angeles to San Diego on Tuesday and was wondering what will happen.

"Yeah I might have to rent a car. And then I'm wasting three hours on the interstate so anyway let's just hope they resolve it," said Spangler.

BNSF issued a statement saying it is committed to working things out with collective bargaining. If there is a labor strike Congress could act to prevent or resolve any disruption.