Chicago Metra Lines may shut down if rail workers strike – NBC Chicago

Chicago Metra Lines may shut down if rail workers strike - NBC Chicago
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Metra, one of Chicago’s largest suburban-to-city commuters, said Tuesday it would have to suspend train service on multiple lines in the Chicago area if a freight rail worker strike occurs later this week, a move that would affect thousands of people. daily train travelers.

according to NBC News reportstruckers are threatening to strike on Friday for reasons including higher pay, more generous paid leave and a renegotiation of strict attendance policies that make it harder to take time off.

“Our unions remain at the bargaining table and have made an offer to the rail carriers that we would be willing to present to our members for ratification, but it is the rail carriers that have refused to reach an acceptable agreement,” SMART Transportation said in a statement. Division said Monday. “In fact, it has become clear from our negotiations over the past few days that the railroads are not going to come to an agreement with our Unions.

“Railroads are using shippers, consumers and our nation’s supply chain as pawns to force our Unions to bow to contract demands, knowing our members will never accept them,” he said.

While Metra is not part of the labor dispute, the train operator told NBC 5 on Tuesday that a rail worker strike “could directly impact Metra’s ability to operate some lines” because most of Metra’s lines run on rails. either owned, stored or shipped, or intersected by freight railroads.

“Four of our lines, BNSF and Union Pacific North, Union Pacific Northwest and Union Pacific West, are owned and operated directly by freight railroads. We expect there to be no service on these lines if the work stops.”

Metra’s BNSF line takes passengers to and from the city of DuPage County, a western suburb of Chicago. The train’s Union Pacific North line serves passengers up and down the North Shore, while two other lines serve passengers as far north as McHenry County and as far west as Kane County.

Metra, which has only been extended $100 monthly Super Saver passsays two of its lines will still operate as planned — the Metra Electric and Rock Island lines — because Metra owns, operates and controls those lines.

However, “on other lines,” Metra says, “we are contacting the respective freight railroads to understand how we can be impacted and determine our options.”

Amtrak on Monday It has already moved to preemptively cancel three long-distance train routes out of Chicago, which the train operator said would “prevent possible passenger disruptions” due to the upcoming holiday.

Although Amtrak is not part of the dispute, the train operator said in a statement that a rail worker strike “may” has a significant impact on its passenger service because it operates nearly all of its 21,000 route miles on tracks owned, maintained, and dispatched by freight railroads.

According to Amtrak, the affected routes are part of the Texas Eagle along with three long-distance routes originating from Chicago: California Zephyr, Empire Builder and Southwest Chief.

“These preliminary revisions may be followed with impacts on all Long Distance and most State Supported routes,” Amtrak said in a statement.

But train passengers may not be the only ones affected by the strike.

Due to the volume of products transported and transported by rail, it can affect the supply chains of various goods. A rail strike could further affect economic and supply chain issues by affecting the flow of goods and raising already inflated prices, according to the head of the United States Chamber of Commerce.

“Closing the nation’s rail service would have major national consequences,” the chamber said Monday. This is reported by Reuters.

A White House official said this Associated Press President Joe Biden and Cabinet members have reached out to both parties in hopes of preventing a strike, he said, and several trade groups representing railroad shippers have urged lawmakers to be prepared to prevent a strike.

A coalition of 31 agricultural groups sent a letter to Congress last week, and the Fertilizer Institute trade group joined the chorus of shippers concerned Saturday that shipments of ammonia and other fertilizers would be delayed.

“Supply chains are already strained and there is zero flexibility in rail transportation right now,” said Corey Rosenbusch, president and CEO of FIT Group. “This situation will get worse every day, there is no solution.” According to Rosenbusch, more than half of all fertilizers are transported by rail.

In addition, more than 75% of all finished vehicles are transported from factories to dealers by train, and countless other products are transported by rail.

The Association of American Railroads estimates that rail shutdowns cost the economy $2 billion a day.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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