Looming freight rail strike leads to cancelled commuter routes

NOW: Looming freight rail strike leads to cancelled commuter routes

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Millions of commuters nationwide, bracing for what could halt train schedules. The impact of a potential freight-railroad strike reaches far beyond cancelled routes.

The effect of a rail strike on the economy could be huge. But those who hop on Metra here in Kenosha are looking at it from a personal standpoint because their lives would be directly impacted.

David Rose stepped off the 5:02 train in Kenosha, wondering if he's going to need to find another way to work Friday.

"I have to go all the way to the Ogilvie Station. So, if I'm driving you're talking an extra couple hours a day probably for the commute plus the extra money for gas plus the extra money for parking," said David Rose, Metra commuter from Kenosha to Chicago.

Talks continued Wednesday, Sept. 14, between railroad labor negotiators and union leaders. The impact also being felt by Amtrak passengers in Milwaukee.

"It's such an easy way to travel to Chicago than drive down there. So we were just stuck in traffic for two hours and that wouldn't have happened on the train," said Jake Huber, Metra commuter from Milwaukee to Chicago.

At the bargaining table, they're talking scheduling rules and staffing shortages. Cancelled trains could cause this UWM student from Chicago to miss classes.

"Well I'm scared that it's, you know they're not gonna have the train and I'm gonna have to find another way to get to Milwaukee which I don't really have another way to get to Milwaukee so I hope that they sort of figure it out," said Sara Mouscher, Amtrak commuter from Chicago to Milwaukee.

Since Amtrak operates on mostly all freight railroad tracks, a spokesman tells CBS 58 they need to ensure they reach their destinations before any potential work stoppage. So they're undergoing phased-adjustments to schedules.

Tracey Rodgers was headed to Chicago, but her train from Chicago to Memphis got cancelled.

"Oh well life happens. Are you gonna drive all the way to Memphis? Yes I am, I've done it many times, years and years, just this time iIwanted to do something new. It was gonna be my first time on the train," said Tracey Rodgers, Amtrak passenger from Milwaukee to Memphis.

A railroad work stoppage could mean more trouble for the economy too. Supply chain issues, that took a big hit during COVID, haven't recovered.

"So strike such as is being talked about, if it does happen on Friday it will have negative implications on our ability to move the goods throughout supply chains, there's no question about it," said Dr. Marko Bastl, Marquette University director of Center of Supply Chain Management.

As of tomorrow, Sept. 15, all Amtrak long distance trains are cancelled and Metra will continue to update passengers online.

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