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

Metra, one of Chicago’s largest commuter movers from the suburbs to the city, said Tuesday it would need to suspend rail service on multiple Chicago area lines if a freight rail workers strike took place later this week. , a move that would affect thousands of people. of daily train travelers.

According to a report by NBC News, freight workers are threatening to strike as early as Friday for reasons including higher pay, more generous paid holidays, and a renegotiation of strict participation policies that make it difficult to take a break.

“Our unions remain at the negotiating table and have presented the rail carriers with a proposal that we would be willing to submit to our members for ratification, but it is the rail carriers who refuse to reach an acceptable agreement,” a statement from The SMART Transportation Division on Monday said. “In fact, from our negotiations these days it has been abundantly clear that the railways show no intention of reaching an agreement with our unions.

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

Although Metra is not part of the labor dispute, the rail operator told NBC 5 on Tuesday that a rail strike “could have a direct impact on Metra’s ability to operate on some lines,” as most of Metra’s lines travels on tracks that are owned, maintained or shipped by or intersect with freight railways.

“Four of our lines, BNSF and Union Pacific North, Union Pacific Northwest and Union Pacific West, are owned and operated directly by freight railways. If construction is interrupted, 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 Union Pacific North train line serves passengers up and down the North Shore, while the other two lines carry commuters from the far north to McHenry County and as far west as Kane County.

Metra, which has just extended its monthly $ 100 Super Saver subscription, says two of its lines would continue to operate 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 freight railways concerned to understand how we might be affected and to determine our options.”

Amtrak on Monday has already moved to preemptively cancel three long-distance rail routes originating in Chicago, a move the rail operator said would “avoid possible passenger disruption” due to the impending strike.

Although Amtrak is also not part of the dispute, the rail operator said in a statement that a strike by railway workers “could it has a significant impact “on its passenger service as it runs nearly all of its 21,000-mile route on tracks that are owned, maintained and shipped by freight railways.

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

“These initial adjustments could be followed by impacts on all long-distance routes and most state-supported routes,” the Amtrak 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 may be affected. According to the head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a railroad strike could further affect economic and supply chain issues by affecting the flow of goods and raising already inflated prices.

“A closure of the nation’s rail service would have huge national consequences,” the House said Monday, Reuters reported.

A White House official told The Associated Press that President Joe Biden and members of his cabinet are in contact with both sides in hopes of preventing a strike and that a number of trade groups representing rail freight forwarders are urging lawmakers to prepare to block a strike.

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

“Supply chains are already tight and there is currently no elasticity in rail transport,” said FIT Group President and CEO Corey Rosenbusch. “This situation will worsen exponentially every day that there is no solution.” According to Rosenbusch, more than half of all fertilizer is transported by the railways.

In addition, over 75% of all finished vehicles are brought from factories to dealerships by train, and countless other products travel by rail.

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

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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