railroad strike

Potential Railroad Strike Could Affect U.S. Economy, Passenger Train Service

NBC Universal, Inc.

Negotiations are underway hoping to prevent a strike of railroad workers.

It could happen as soon as Friday.

And the service disruptions it might cause could snarl parts of the U.S. economy, as well as affect passenger service in some areas.

Amtrak workers wouldn’t be part of a possible strike but the railroad runs much of its service in other parts of the country on freight lines.

Some travelers are on edge about how this could eventually play out.

Rodney Lewis is among those who rely on trains to get to work.

“Absolutely, it’s critical,” said Lewis.

And some passengers are concerned what a potential freight-rail strike might mean for their commute.

“It’s like I have to find another way to get back and forth to handle my business. So worried a little,” said Carlton Pruitt of Stratford.

Amtrak has already canceled all long-distance trains nationwide starting Thursday.

For now Amtrak reports most travel on its Northeast Corridor and related branch lines, including to Springfield, would not be affected and only a few Northeast Regional departures would be impacted.

Freight workers have been fighting for better sick time policies, according to CNBC.

One railroad carrier has defended its time off benefits while other says it was open to addressing the concerns.

While negotiations with unions have been underway for months, a strike could happen as soon as Friday when a federal “cooling off period” ends.

“If this happens and it happens and stays for more than a couple of weeks, the economic impact will be quite serious,” said John Rosen, University of New Haven business adjunct professor.

Rosen told us about a third of freight travels by rail at some point.

He says the effect of a strike could ripple across industries from factories not receiving parts to stores missing shipments.

“If a third of everything in your local Walmart all of a sudden can't get there it's going to look, it's going to look pretty empty,” said Rosen.

The professor adds a strike would only add to economic challenges including with the supply chain and a truck worker shortage.  

Now the MTA says it’s not expecting any issues with its service if there was a strike.

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