Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Potential for cancelled Amtrak Cascades trains starting Friday, Sept. 16

Update 8:18 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 15

The potential freight railroad strike has been averted. Amtrak Cascades trains between Seattle and Eugene will resume normal operations today. The Amtrak long-distance trains - Coast Starlight and Empire Builder - will resume operations Friday. All affected customers are being notified.

By Janet Matkin

We're keeping a close eye on the ongoing freight rail labor contract negotiations and working with our partners at the Oregon Department of Transportation and Amtrak about what this means for our Amtrak Cascades service.

The negotiations do not involve Amtrak or the Amtrak workforce but still do affect train travel. While we are hopeful that parties will reach a resolution, Amtrak has now begun phased adjustments to its service in preparation for a possible freight rail service interruption later this week.

The train tracks on which Amtrak Cascades trains run in Washington and Oregon are primarily owned by BNSF Railway and Union Pacific. These railroad companies control all train movements in this region and therefore the potential strike of their workers will affect Amtrak Cascades trains. Our trains cannot operate without the BNSF and Union Pacific dispatchers.

As a precautionary measure, Amtrak has secured buses for Thursday, Sept. 15, that will transport Amtrak Cascades passengers if necessary, ensuring train passengers are not stranded mid-trip. However, if a strike occurs, it will result in complete service disruptions starting on Friday, Sept. 16,  and there are no buses available this weekend to provide alternative transportation options. Ticketed customers are being notified of the potential situation and Amtrak is offering to change their reservation to another travel date, waive any difference in fare for departures through Oct. 31 or provide a full refund without cancellation fees.

Additionally, Amtrak has already suspended service on its two long-distance trains out of Portland and Seattle – the Empire Builder that travels to Chicago and the Coast Starlight that travels to Los Angeles. These adjustments were necessary to ensure trains can reach their terminals before freight railroad service interruption if a resolution in negotiations is not reached.

We know disruptions and uncertainty are frustrating and we're working to keep passengers informed of any changes and thank you for your patience and understanding. Amtrak Cascades trains will resume running as soon as the labor negotiations are resolved.

An Amtrak Cascades train on the tracks – we’re closely monitoring a labor dispute
that may disrupt service starting Friday, Sept. 16.