ORLANDO, Fla. – Train companies around the country are bracing for a potential freight rail worker strike on Friday, and Amtrak is suspending long-distance train service in Florida because of it.
Amtrak confirmed to News 6 that it would suspend long-distance trains that operate in Florida starting Wednesday, with all services suspended by Thursday.
[TRENDING: Professional dancer loses legs after contracting meningococcal meningitis infection | Museum Day: How to get free admission to Central Florida museums | Enter to win Kroger grocery gift card | Become a News 6 Insider (it’s free!)]
That includes the Silver Star passenger train, which runs from Miami to New York, with stops in Orlando, and the Amtrak Auto Train, which runs between Sanford and Lorton, Virginia.
Amtrak says the ongoing freight rail labor negotiations do not affect Amtrak or its workforce. However, almost all of Amtrak’s services outside the northeastern states are run on tracks that are owned and maintained by freight railroads.
“These adjustments are necessary to ensure trains can reach their terminals before freight railroad service interruption if a resolution in negotiations is not reached,” an Amtrak spokesperson said in a statement.
The freight railroad companies have been in negotiation with a dozen different unions since 2019, but the talks were slowed by the pandemic.
While many of the unions have reached tentative agreements, two large unions representing engineers and train conductors are holding out for better terms.
The government has tried to reach agreements, including President Biden who appointed a special board to make recommendations. The Biden administration put further pressure on the two sides Wednesday to settle their agreement.
If nothing happens, the workers can strike Friday morning just after midnight. A Florida Department of Transportation spokesperson on Wednesday told News 6 that the strike could impact SunRail service, which the Central Florida Commuter Rail Commission estimates carries nearly 4,000 people daily.
“The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is aware of ongoing negotiations between rail carriers and rail unions,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “The Department continues to monitor the situation as a labor strike could impact SunRail service. More information will be available as developments occur.”
Get today’s headlines in minutes with Your Florida Daily: