Amtrak Restoring Canceled Trains After Strike Averted

Amtrak planned to cancel several national routes in preparation for the strike

Amtrak Coast Starlight (Los Angeles - Seattle) powered by P42DC locomotives at Moorpark, California
Laser1987 / Getty Images

After 20 hours of negotiation talks, freight rail companies and unions have reached a tentative agreement to avert a strike that would have drastically affected Amtrak's long-distance service.

"The tentative agreement reached tonight is an important win for our economy and the American people," said President Joe Biden in a statement released early Thursday morning. "It is a win for tens of thousands of rail workers who worked tirelessly through the pandemic to ensure that America’s families and communities got deliveries of what have kept us going during these difficult years."

Prior to the news, Amtrak had been planning to cancel several national routes in preparation for the strike, with cancellations intended to go into effect beginning Thursday, Sept. 15 for an undetermined amount of time. Although the negotiations between freight workers and unions do not directly involve Amtrak or Amtrak workers, passenger trains operate on many of the same railway tracks as freight trains.

With the agreement, though, Amtrak has halted its nationwide shutdowns. "Amtrak is working to quickly restore canceled trains and reaching out directly to impacted customers to accommodate on first available departures," Amtrak announced at 7 a.m. on Thursday, shortly after the White House shared that negotiations were underway.

Under the new contracts, all rail employees would receive a 24-percent wage increase from 2020 to 2024, with an average payout of $11,000 upon ratification, according to the Association of American Railroads. Workers will also be given one extra paid day off and be allowed "to take time away from work to attend to routine and preventive medical care," said the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET).

"These rail workers will get better pay, improved working conditions, and peace of mind around their health care costs: all hard-earned," said President Biden. "The agreement is also a victory for railway companies who will be able to retain and recruit more workers for an industry that will continue to be part of the backbone of the American economy for decades to come."

Now, the agreement will pass on to rank-and-file union members, who will need to cast a ratification vote before it can be finalized. Should the vote fail, everyone involved has agreed to a weeks-long "cooling off period" to prevent an immediate shutdown of railway services.

To stay on top of cancellations and the latest updates follow @AmtrakAlerts on Twitter.

Article Sources
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  1. The White House. "Statement by President Joe Biden on Tentative Railway Labor Agreement.” Sept. 15, 2022.

  2. Amtrak. "Freight Railroad Labor Negotiations—Restoration of Amtrak Service." Sept. 15, 2022.

  3. Association of American Railroads. "Freight Railroads and Unions Reach Tentative Agreements, Strike Averted." Sept. 15, 2022.

  4. Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen. "BLET, SMART-TD Reach Tentative Agreement With Railroads." Sept. 15, 2022.

  5. CBS News. "Watch Live: Biden Announces 'Tentative Agreement' to Avert National Rail Strike." Sept. 15, 2022.