WASHINGTON — Amtrak said it has canceled all long-distance passenger trains scheduled for Thursday ahead of a potential freight rail shutdown as rail workers and freight companies remain at a stalemate in contract negotiations.
The passenger rail service's heavily used Northeast Corridor will largely be spared of the cancelations, Amtrak said, and its high-speed Acela trips will remain on schedule. Amtrak also canceled several state-supported services for Thursday evening.
Although Amtrak is not a party in the labor dispute and doesn't carry freight, the move is more fallout from lingering disagreements between freight rail unions and railroad companies before a looming negotiating deadline Friday.
Railroads are poised to begin halting the shipment of crops as soon as Thursday, according to the Consumer Brands Association, while shipments of farm fertilizers have already been delayed this week.
At 12:01 a.m. ET Friday, a federally mandated "cooling off" period ends, which would open the door for about 115,000 freight rail workers in unions to walk off the job or for companies to shut out employees. Amtrak said it will only operate trains this week that have enough time to reach their final destinations by the deadline.