RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — People traveling via Amtrak through the next few days may want to keep an eye on their ride status.
In advance of a potential rail worker strike, on Wednesday, Amtrak said the company was canceling all long-distance trains beginning Thursday, Sept. 15. Early Thursday morning President Joe Biden announced a “tentative railway labor agreement has been reached,” with the hopes of avoiding a strike that could have devastating economical effects.
Amtrak responded shortly after, saying it was quickly working to restore trains that were canceled.
While Amtrak is not involved in the negotiations, many of its trains run on third-party railroads that could shut down if a strike occurs. Rail workers planning to strike demanded more predictable schedules, better pay, working conditions, and the ability to take time off for personal appointments and medical emergencies without penalties, most of which were addressed in the new agreement.
“These rail workers will get better pay, improved working conditions, and peace of mind around their health care costs: all hard-earned,” Biden said in a report by The Associated Press. “The agreement is also a victory for railway companies who will be able to retain and recruit more workers for an industry that will continue to be part of the backbone of the American economy for decades to come.”
The suspensions that were planned for Thursday included Amtrak’s Auto Train service, which runs between Lorton, Va. and Sanford, Fla., and its Capitol Limited service, which runs between Washington, D.C. and Chicago. Amtrak was also planning to suspend its Cardinal service, which runs between New York City and Chicago, and its Palmetto service between D.C. and Savannah, Ga.
“Word of a tentative agreement between the freight railroads and labor unions is most welcome and should allow the Virginia Railway Express to serve commuters in the commonwealth without interruption,” said Virginia Railway Express Chief Executive Officer, Rich Dalton. “The thousands of Virginians who rely on VRE each day to reach their place of employment are undoubtedly relieved and pleased that they can continue to travel safely and comfortably onboard our trains. We appreciate the effort of all parties involved in the negotiations and look forward to a final resolution.”
The VRE said that if the tentative agreement had not been reached, the company would have been forced to suspend service because its trains run on tracks owned by CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern.
“We did not cancel trains prior to an agreement being reached, but did advise VRE passengers to identify an alternative commuting option in the event our service was shut down,” Dalton said.
Amtrak riders can check the current status of their train online by visiting https://www.amtrak.com/how-to-check-a-train-status.
Amtrack previously said it would offer customers the ability to either change their travel to another date or receive a full refund, in advance of expected cancelations.
This article was written using reporting by The Associated Press.