Amtrak travelers wait for trips to be booked after strike averted

Jenna Johnson-Hall should prepare for a long-awaited trip to see her partner and meet her partner’s family. Instead, she waits to find out if she can make the trip.

Like Amtrak customers across the country, its long-distance train was canceled Wednesday as Amtrak braced for a possible freight train strike over working conditions, wages and other benefits like furloughs. illness paid.

The strike was averted with a tentative union agreement, but Johnson-Hall and other Amtrak passengers are still waiting to hear what’s next for them.

“Amtrak is working to quickly reinstate canceled trains and contacting affected customers to accommodate the earliest available departures,” Amtrak, which was not involved in freight negotiations, told USA TODAY.

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Johnson-Hall said she called Amtrak as soon as she learned the strike had started early this morning.

“They told me they had no new information for me and to call back around 11 or 12 (MT) to see if the train I was supposed to take had been reinstated,” she said. When she did, she said Amtrak still had no answer and asked her to call back in a few hours.

She has already waited a long time. Johnson-Hall said it took her four months to save enough money for this trip from Utah to Illinois.

“I felt very bad. I had worked very hard,” she said. “To find out that all that work and planning and getting a hotel and everything (maybe) was completely for nothing was devastating.”

His partner, Robynn Lynch, says it’s been stressful, but knows the whole ordeal is much bigger than them.

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“As stressful as it was, I was on the union side,” she said. “The way I saw it, the work that was put on these people was extreme, and the (potential) strike is what they needed to make things work. And it was just a shame that it happened. product, that it affected me, but they did what they had to do.”

President Joe Biden had told negotiators that “a shutdown is unacceptable” because of the ripple effects it would have across the country, including on the supply chain and passenger rail.

“I don’t think their intention was to… ruin the economy and ruin all of these things for people,” Lynch said. “I had all the faith in the world that things would work out.”

She is also confident that she will be able to see Johnson-Hall, even if it is a bit late.

“I really wanted it to be our actual anniversary because I thought it would be cute to see each other for the first time in pretty much forever on our actual one-year anniversary,” Johnson-Hall said. . “And then I could give her the birthday present I ordered in person instead of her opening it via video call like we normally do.”

Why would a freight railway strike affect passenger trains?

Although Amtrak operates services across the country, it actually owns very few tracks that it uses. Many of its trains outside the Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington use lines controlled by freight railroads. Thus, a strike by workers on these railways could affect Amtrak’s ability to operate in their territory.

The freight railway workers have been negotiating a contract for three years. Announcing the tentative agreement on Thursday morning, President Joe Biden said he would offer railroad workers “better pay, better working conditions and peace of mind about their hard-earned healthcare costs: all hard-earned.”

Which routes are affected?

Amtrak’s cancellations impacted all long-distance trains starting Thursday, including the Auto Train between Virginia and Florida, and other interstate routes.

What am I entitled to if my train has been cancelled?

The railway is offering a full refund for all canceled trains or will move the reservation to another travel date without charging a fare difference until October 31.

Contributor: Zach Wichter, Joey Garrison

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