CHICAGO – Some Metra trains won’t be running beginning Thursday night as the commuter rail service braces for a possible nationwide work stoppage by freight railroad workers.
Those workers are set to go on strike on Friday if an agreement isn’t reached and while Metra is not involved with negotiations, some of its lines are owned and operated by freight railways.
If a work stoppage does happen, there will be no service on Friday on the BNSF, Union Pacific North, Union Pacific Northwest and Union Pacific West lines.
Even before then, however, in anticipation of that possible strike, Metra said it has been forced to start limiting services on those lines beginning Thursday evening.
BNSF: Four inbound trains departing from Aurora after 8 p.m. will be canceled (the specific runs are Nos. 1296, 1298, 1300 and 1302). Outbound trains on that line that would have departed Chicago after 9:30 p.m. also are canceled (Those runs are Nos. 1289, 1291, 1293 and 1295).
Union Pacific North: Inbound trains departing from Waukegan (Nox. 372 and 374) after 10 p.m. are canceled, as are outbound trains (Nos. 371, 373, 375 and 377) departing Chicago after 9:30 p.m.
Union Pacific Northwest: All inbound trains after 9:30 p.m. are canceled (Nos. 666 and 668). Outbound trains departing from Chicago (Nos. 661, 663, 665 and 601) also are canceled after 9:30 p.m.
Union Pacific West: One inbound trains departing from Elburn (No. 68) is canceled after 9:15 p.m., as are two outbound trains (Nos. 69 and 71) departing Chicago after 9:30 p.m.
Services on Metra’s Electric, Rock Island, Southwest Service, Milwaukee District North and Milwaukee District West lines are expected to operate on Friday regardless of a strike.
Metra is still working with its freight partners to determine its ability to run trains on the Heritage Corridor and North Central Service lines.
The possibility of a strike is also being felt at Amtrak, which relies heavily on freight railways. Amtrak preemptively canceled long-distance train routes, mostly those departing from Chicago, to prevent its passenger trains from being stranded.
A nationwide work stoppage by freight rail workers could cause the country to lose billions of dollars a day and further burden the supply chain.
Negotiations between unions representing 115,000 workers and railways that include BNSF, Union Pacific, CSX, Norfolk Southern and Kansas City Southern have gone on for two years but stalled this summer. Most of the unions have already reached a tentative agreement, but those employees could refuse to cross the picket line if a deal is not made with the rest.
A nationwide strike could cost the U.S. economy $2 billion per day, according to an industry report released last week. Those economic damages will be felt at retail stores and in lost jobs, widespread plant shutdowns, more expensive goods and the disruption of hundreds of thousands of daily trips on commuter railroads and Amtrak.