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Tipsheet

Amtrak Cancels Long-Distance Service Over Looming Rail Strike

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File

Say a prayer for Joe Biden and all his conductor friends working at Amtrak because, starting on Thursday, all long-distance passenger rail service has been canceled over fears of a rail strike that will come on Friday if contract negotiations in the meantime remain unsuccessful. Build back better?

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The news that all long-distance train service would be halted followed Amtrak's cancelation of some routes between Chicago and California earlier this week. The new routes that are canceled starting Thursday morning include Amtrak's Coast Starlight route from Seattle to Los Angeles, Lake Shore Limited from New York to Chicago, Sunset Limited from New Orleans to Los Angeles, Silver Star from New York to Miami, and Texas Eagle from Chicago to Los Angeles. Essentially, as Amtrak explained, they won't be running any more trains this week unless they "can ensure will have enough time to reach their final destinations by 12:01 a.m. on Friday."

Even though Amtrak employees aren't involved in the contract dispute, most of Amtrak's trains operate on track owned and operated by freight companies — the same ones staring down the barrel of a strike if contracts aren't agreed upon by Friday's deadline. Some trains, such as those operating on the track Amtrak owns between New York City and Washington, DC, will continue to operate even if negotiations aren't successful. 

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In a statement, Amtrak said it remains "hopeful that parties will reach a resolution" but  "has now begun phased adjustments to our service in preparation for a possible freight rail service interruption later this week." Not exactly a vote of confidence in the ability of the involved parties to come to a satisfactory agreement in time to avert a strike. 

As Townhall reported, several freight companies have already begun suspending transport of vital goods such as grain and fertilizer — two things that are about to hit peak transport demand as farmers harvest their crops and prepare their fields for the next planting. 

Meanwhile, as Townhall reported on Tuesday, the White House has... no real plan. All they had to say was that the Biden administration, including Secretaries Buttigieg, and Vilsack, have been working since "early spring" to avoid the looming strike and resulting rail shutdown that is now just hours away. Biden's "contingency" if the strike occurs is, apparently, to put all rail freight onto other modes of transportation — which won't actually stop the shutdown from becoming another Biden crisis just before the midterms.

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Amtrak's decision is just the latest that suggests hope is dwindling for a deal to avert the strike — one that will see 12 major rail worker unions leave the job for an indefinite period of time. 

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