Thousands of Florida commuters may find themselves without a train ride as Amtrak cancels all long-distance routes to avoid leaving passengers stranded during a potential railroad work stoppage that could cost the U.S. economy billions a day.
Amtrak’s Silver Star route — with rides between New York City and the Miami-area — is suspended effective Wednesday, the passenger rail carrier said in a news release. With stops in the Jacksonville, Winter Park, Orlando, Tampa, West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami areas, those who count on this route to visit family, vacation and work will have to find to find alternatives.
The Silver Meteor, a route that used to share several train stops with the Silver Star, had been previously canceled due to a worker shortage, Amtrak spokeswoman Kimberly Woods told the Miami Herald. From October 1, 2020 through September 30 of last year, Amtrak served 569,165 passengers in Florida, according to a report.
“These adjustments are necessary to ensure trains can reach their terminals before freight railroad service interruption if a resolution in negotiations is not reached,” Amtrak said.
Amtrak is closely monitoring the ongoing contract negotiations between freight rail companies and rail labor unions, the company said, adding that it doesn’t involve Amtrak or its workforce. The Association of American Railroads trade group estimates that a nationwide railroad service interruption would significantly disrupt the economy — to the tune of more than $2 billion a day.
“While we are hopeful that parties will reach a resolution, Amtrak has now begun phased adjustments to our service in preparation for a possible freight rail service interruption later this week,” the company said. “Such an interruption could significantly impact intercity passenger rail service, as Amtrak operates almost all of our 21,000 route miles outside the Northeast Corridor (NEC) on track owned, maintained, and dispatched by freight railroads. “
Most traveling within the Amtrak-owned Northeast Corridor (Boston – New York – Washington) would not be affected.
“Amtrak will reach out to impacted and potentially impacted customers, informing them of the potential situation, offering to change their reservation to another travel date, waiving any difference in fare for departures through October 31, or receiving a full refund without cancelation fees,” the company said.
Here are the suspended Amtrak routes:
- Southwest Chief
- Empire Builder
- California Zephyr
- Train #421 portion of the Texas Eagle
- City of New Orleans
- Coast Starlight
- Lake Shore Limited
- Silver Star
- Sunset Limited
- Texas Eagle
Here are the routes suspended effective Thursday:
- Auto Train
- Capitol Limited
- Palmetto (south of Washington)
Freight railroad companies and unions representing workers have been locked in a dispute over pay and working conditions, The Washington Post reported. Freight rail companies and two of the largest unions, comprising of 57,000 conductors and engineers, have not agreed to the deal — which could spark a major strike starting Friday — in addition to interrupting the nation’s energy supply and drinking water.