Happening Now

Rail Passengers Association Statement on Potential Rail Shutdown

September 12, 2022

Contact: Madison Butler,
[email protected]
September 12, 2022

Rail Passengers Association Statement on Potential Rail Shutdown

WASHINGTON -- Rail Passengers Association has been telling our supporters about the potential for a rail shutdown over the past few months. The cooldown period mandated by the Presidential Emergency Board ends at midnight on September 16th and, with negotiations still ongoing, the nation is beginning to consider the very real potential that tens of thousands of rail workers may go on strike this weekend.

While President Biden’s Administration and the U.S. Congress are actively engaged in mediating the dispute—which centers on working conditions more than pay—it is important for passenger to understand how it may affect rail operations.

“We are tracking these negotiations with great interest because, while they center on the relationship between rail workers and the freight railroads, there is simply no way to disentangle the passenger and freight operations of this network,” said Jim Mathews, President of the Rail Passenger Association. “As the Association of American Railroads stated last week, freight railroads own ‘nearly 97% of the tracks on Amtrak’s nearly 22,000-mile system.’ If negotiations fail, America’s passenger trains will cease operations outside the Northeast Corridor. Therefore, we are calling on both freight railroads and rail labor organizations to continue to negotiate in good faith; the U.S. rail network is too important to America’s citizens to allow for an extended shutdown of the system. However, it is essential that the negotiations produce a collective bargaining agreement that allows for freight trains to run safely and on-time. If that means spending more on operations and less on stock buybacks, then that is what needs to happen.

“We also encourage Amtrak to communicate clearly with any passenger whose trip may be affected,” continued Mathews. “We understand that, out of an abundance of caution, Amtrak has already started suspending service for certain long-distance trains with multi-day schedules in order not to strand passengers, workers, or equipment; that is the smart—and passenger-focused—way to handle this potential disruption. And while these circumstances are outside of Amtrak's control, we're asking them to ensure that passengers whose travel is disrupted are reimbursed, and that they receive relevant information in a timely fashion.”


About Rail Passengers Association

The Rail Passengers Association is the oldest and largest national organization serving as a voice for the more than 40 million rail passengers in the U.S. Our mission is to improve and expand conventional intercity and regional passenger train services, support higher speed rail initiatives, increase connectivity among all forms of transportation and ensure safety for our country's trains and passengers. All of this makes communities safer, more accessible, and more productive, improving the lives of everyone who lives, works and plays in towns all across America.