Chicago Metra Lines Could Shut Down If Rail Workers Strike – NBC Chicago

Metra, one of Chicago’s largest carriers from the suburbs to the city, said Tuesday it would have to suspend train service on several Chicago-area lines if a strike by freight rail workers takes place later this week. , a measure that would affect thousands of daily commuters on the train.

According to an NBC News reportFreight workers are threatening to strike Friday for reasons including higher wages, 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 given the rail carriers a proposal that we would be willing to present to our members for ratification, but it is the rail carriers who refuse to come to an acceptable deal,” a statement said. from The SMART Transportation. Division on Monday said. “In fact, it was made very clear in our negotiations in the last few days that the railways show no intention of reaching an agreement with our unions.

“The railroads are using our nation’s shippers, consumers and supply chain as pawns in an effort to get our unions to give in to their contract demands knowing our members would never agree to them,” the statement continues.

While Metra is not a party to the labor dispute, the train operator said in a statement to NBC 5 on Tuesday that a strike by rail workers “could directly affect Metra’s ability to operate on some lines” as most Metra lines travel on tracks that are either owned, maintained or shipped by, or intersect with freight railroads.

“Four of our lines, BNSF and Union Pacific North, Union Pacific Northwest and Union Pacific West, are owned and directly operated by freight railroads. If the work stoppage occurs, we expect there will be no service on these lines.”

Metra’s BNSF Line carries passengers from Chicago’s western suburbs in DuPage County to and from the city. The train’s Union Pacific North Line serves passengers up and down the North Shore, while the other two lines carry passengers as far north as McHenry County and as far west as Kane County.

Metra, which has just expanded its $100 Monthly Super Saver Passsays two of its lines will continue to run as scheduled, the Metra Electric and Rock Island lines, as Metra owns, operates and controls those lines.

However, “on the other lines,” says Metra, “we are in communication with the relevant freight railroads to understand how we may be affected and determine our options.”

amtrak on monday It has already moved to preemptively cancel three long-distance train routes originating in Chicago, a move the train operator said would “avoid potential passenger disruptions” due to the impending strike.

Although Amtrak is also not a party to the dispute, the train operator said in a statement that a strike by rail workers “could will significantly affect” its passenger service, as it operates almost all of its 21,000 route miles on tracks owned, maintained and distributed by freight railroads.

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

“These initial adjustments could be followed by impacts to all long-haul routes and most state-supported routes,” Amtrak’s statement continued.

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

Due to the volume of products transported and moved by rail, supply chains for various items could be affected. According to the director of the United States Chamber of Commerce, a strike by rail workers could further affect economic and supply chain problems by affecting the flow of goods and driving up already inflated prices.

“Shutting down the nation’s rail service would have enormous national consequences,” the House said Monday. Reuters reports.

A White House official said The Associated Press that President Joe Biden and members of his cabinet are in contact with both sides in hopes of avoiding a strike; and that several trade groups representing rail carriers are urging lawmakers to be prepared to block a strike.

Last week, a coalition of 31 farm groups sent a letter to Congress, and the Fertilizer Institute trade group joined the chorus of worried shippers Saturday that shipments of ammonia and other fertilizers will be delayed.

“Supply chains are already strained and there is currently no elasticity in rail transportation,” said FIT Group President and CEO Corey Rosenbusch. “This situation will get exponentially worse every day that there is no resolution.” According to Rosenbusch, more than half of all fertilizers are transported by rail.

Additionally, more than 75% of all finished vehicles are moved from factories to dealerships by rail, and many other products are transported by rail.

The Association of American Railroads estimates that closing the railroads would cost the economy $2 billion a day.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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