President Joe Biden said Thursday that a tentative rail labor agreement has been reached averting a potential strike that would have affected train commuters and supply chains throughout Southern California.
Metrolink and Amtrak were bracing for potential large-scale disruptions in service because of the looming nationwide rail strike that was set to begin at midnight Friday.
In a statement released Thursday, BIden said the agreement is “an important win for our economy and the American people. It is a win for tens of thousands of rail workers who worked tirelessly through the pandemic to ensure that America*s families and communities got deliveries of what have kept us going during these difficult years.”
Several unions representing tens of thousands of rail workers were at an impasse with railroad companies, seeking more predictable schedules and work conditions. Of the 12 unions, nine had agreed to tentative deals as of Wednesday while the others remained at the bargaining table.
“We are hopeful that a resolution will be reached prior to Thursday but as the parties have not yet reached an agreement, we are doing everything we can to notify our customers and provide alternate service options if the rail service is interrupted,” Jason Jewell, interim Managing Director of the LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency said on Wednesday. “We have closely coordinated with Amtrak and Metrolink to maximize service options for our customers including providing bus bridges where possible.”
A rail strike would have also impacted the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which rely on trains to ship cargo. Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, was scheduled to hold a news briefing Thursday morning to address the situation.
Metrolink and Amtrak are not directly involved in the negotiations, but a strike would have an impact on service.
Metrolink was preparing to cancel some or all trains in Orange, Ventura and Riverside counties beginning at 8 p.m. Thursday. All Ventura County Line service would operate only between Los Angeles and Moorpark, and Metrolink would offer alternate transportation beyond Moorpark.
A full list of possible Metrolink cancellations is available at bit.ly/3eSJNNn.
Amtrak announced that it was preparing to cancel long-distance trains beginning Thursday, including routes beginning in Chicago, Seattle and New Orleans with a final destination in Los Angeles.
“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,” Amtrak said in a statement Wednesday. “Such an interruption could significantly impact intercity passenger rail service.”