The Pacific Surfliner was prepared to temporarily stop train service to Santa Barbara County if freight railroad workers went on strike this week, Amtrak said in a travel advisory on Wednesday.
As of Thursday morning, Amtrak said: “Regular Pacific Surfliner service is expected to continue through Thursday and Friday as a tentative settlement has been reached between the freight railroad worker unions and their employers.”
The Pacific Surfliner routes from Fullerton to Los Angeles and Moorpark to San Luis Obispo could have been affected since Amtrak uses tracks managed by freight carriers involved in the labor negotiations.
“A strike is not anticipated to significantly impact Amtrak crews or personnel. However, if a strike does occur, neither freight nor passenger rail services would be able to operate on tracks that are owned, maintained or dispatched by freight railroads. This includes the portions of the LOSSAN Rail Corridor that are managed by BNSF Railway and Union Pacific,” Amtrak said in the travel advisory Wednesday.
Freight, commuter, passenger and long-distance trains all use the tracks of the 351-mile LOSSAN Rail Corridor.
Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner train provides service from San Diego to San Luis Obispo, and Amtrak also provides bus service to Santa Barbara County travelers.
Amtrak Coast Starlight service — which has a route from Los Angeles to Seattle — was suspended starting Wednesday.
A tentative railway labor agreement was reached early Thursday, averting a strike, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“The five-year labor deal, retroactive to 2020, includes the 24% raises and $5,000 in bonuses that a Presidential Emergency Board recommended this summer. Railroads also agreed to ease their strict attendance policies to address some of the unions’ concerns about working conditions,” the LA Times reported.
“Workers will now be able to take unpaid days off for doctor’s appointments without being penalized. Previously, workers would lose points under the attendance systems that the BNSF and Union Pacific railways had adopted, and they could be disciplined if they lost all their points.”
Railroad freight carriers, including Union Pacific, had failed to reach a contract agreement with two unions in a dispute over salary, benefits and time off.
A federally mandated “cooling off” period in negotiations ends Friday, which means strikes could start as soon as this week if no agreement is reached, according to news reports.
Nationwide freight and passenger rail would be affected by a strike.
“Amtrak, the national passenger railroad, owns only 3% of the tracks that its trains use, with the remaining 97% mostly owned and maintained by freight carriers,” The New York Times reported.