‘I felt terrible’: Travelers stuck in limbo as they wait for Amtrak to restore canceled trips

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Jenna Johnson-Hall must prepare for the long-awaited trip to see her partner and visit her partner’s family. Instead, she is waiting to find out if she will be able to make the trip.

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Like Amtrak customers nationwide, its long-distance train schedule was canceled Wednesday as Amtrak prepared for a potential freight rail strike over working conditions, pay and other benefits such as paid sick leave.

The strike was averted with a tentative union deal, but Johnson-Hall and other Amtrak passengers are still waiting to find out what’s next for them.


“Amtrak is working to quickly reinstate canceled trains and reach affected customers at the first available departure,” Amtrak, which was not involved in the freight negotiations, told USA Today.

live update:Biden calls temporary labor deal a ‘big victory for America’ after rail strike averted

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What are the rail unions demanding?:Everything you wanted to know about Rail Strike

Johnson-Hall said that as soon as she heard the strike was off, she called Amtrak on Thursday morning.

“They told me they didn’t have any new information for me and to call around 11 or 12 (MDT) to see if the train I was supposed to take had been reinstated,” she said. When he did, she said, Amtrak still had no answer and asked to call her back in a few more hours. Amtrak was finally able to book her again

He has already waited a long time. Johnson-Hall said it took him four months to save enough money for the trip from Utah to Illinois.

“I felt really bad. I was working really hard,” she said. “To find out that all that work and planning and getting a hotel and everything[may]be absolutely nothing, was devastating.”

Her partner Robin Lynch says it has been stressful, but she knows the whole ordeal is much bigger than hers.

Railway workers strikeWill other unions demand what the railway unions are demanding?

“As tense as it was, I was on the union side,” she said. “The way I saw it, the work that was done on those people was extreme, and (a) the threat of strike was necessary to get them to work. And it was unfortunate that it happened, that it affected me, But they did what they needed to do.”

President Joe Biden told negotiators that “the shutdown is unacceptable” because of ripple effects across the country, including on the country’s supply chain and passenger rail.

“I don’t think they intended to … ruin the economy and ruin all these things for the people,” Lynch said. “I had full faith in the world that things would be all right.”

She also believed that she would see Johnson-Hall, even if it would be a while.

“I really wanted it to be on our actual anniversary because I thought it would be lovely to see each other for the first time in basically forever on our actual one year anniversary,” Johnson-Hall said. “And then I could give him the anniversary gift that I ordered in person, where he opens it over a video call like we normally do.”

Why will the freight train strike affect the passenger trains?

Although Amtrak operates services throughout the country, it actually owns very few tracks that use it. Many of its trains outside the Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington use lines controlled by freight railroads. So workers’ strikes on those railroads could affect Amtrak’s ability to operate in their area.

Freight rail workers have been negotiating contracts for three years. Announcing the temporary union agreement early Thursday, Biden said it would provide rail workers “better pay, better working conditions and peace of mind around their health care costs: all hard-earned.”

Which routes are affected?

Amtrak’s cancellations affected all long-distance trains starting Thursday, including auto trains and other interstate routes between Virginia and Florida.

What am I entitled to if my train is cancelled?

Railroad is offering full refunds for any trains that are canceled or will transfer reservations to another travel date without charging the fare difference through October 31.

Contributions: Zach Witcher, Joy Garrison

Source: www.usatoday.com

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