What Amtrak travelers need to know about the looming freight strike

Negotiations are ongoing between trade unions and railway companies. If they fail to reach an agreement, the first national rail strike in 30 years could start as early as Friday.

While Amtrak is not involved in the negotiations, service has already been adjusted on the track that could be affected by the dispute. All long-distance Amtrak trains are canceled beginning Thursday, September 15.

Here’s what Amtrak passengers need to know about the situation:

Is Amtrak striking?

No. “The negotiations do not involve Amtrak or the Amtrak workforce,” Amtrak said in a statement earlier this week.

So why is Amtrak canceling service?

Amtrak is suspending some services in advance because the track will be affected if rail workers go on strike.

“Amtrak operates nearly all of our 21[ads1],000 route miles outside the Northeast Corridor (NEC) on tracks owned, maintained and shipped by freight railroads,” said Marc Magliari, an Amtrak spokesman.

The passenger train company said it would only run trains this week that it “can ensure have enough time to reach their final destinations by 12.01pm on Friday 16 September.”

Will Acela service be affected?

No. Amtrak said most trips within the Northeast Corridor (Boston, New York and Washington) would not be affected and that the Acela would have a full schedule. Related branch lines to Albany, New York; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; and Springfield, Massachusetts, would also not be affected.

Amtrak expects minimal changes to Northeast Regional Services.

Which routes are affected?

Amtrak announced that all long-distance trains will be canceled starting Thursday. Some routes were suspended earlier in the week.

The cancellations “may be followed by impacts on most state-supported routes,” Amtrak said Wednesday. Here is an overview of suspended services:

Suspended services starting Tuesday 13 September:

Suspended services starting Wednesday 14 September:

Suspended services starting Thursday 15 September:

Amtrak said it would try to contact passengers whose trains are canceled at least 24 hours in advance.

Can I change my ticket?

Yes. Amtrak says it will contact customers who are or may be affected with offers to change their travel dates. Price differences are waived for departures up to and including 31 October.

Can I get a refund?

Yes. Affected customers contacted by Amtrak may receive a full refund without cancellation fees.

Will the commuter train service be affected?

Yes, rail service not provided by Amtrak may be affected by a freight strike. Many passenger rail services operate on tracks owned by freight railroads, including Metra in Chicago and the Maryland Transit Administration’s MARC trains. More about that here. Check directly with local rail providers about potential disruptions.

CNN’s Omar Jimenez, Geneva Sands, Vanessa Yurkevich, Chris Isidore, Matt McFarland and Pete Muntean contributed to this report. Top photo: Amtrak cars and locomotives sit in a yard Aug. 25 in Chicago. (AP Photo/David Boe)

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