Amtrak is reversing its plans to cancel long-distance train trips after rail unions and freight railways reached a tentative contract agreement this week, avoiding a strike.
“Amtrak is working to quickly restore canceled trains and reaching out to impacted customers to accommodate on first available departures,” the company said in a statement.
The passenger rail service began canceling routes on Tuesday before canceling all long-distance routes two days later in advance of the potential strike, fearing that freight rail lines would shut down as early as Friday before the trains reached their destination.
Amtrak was not involved in the contract negotiations between rail workers and freight companies, but many of its trains run on railroads owned by third parties that could be impacted by a strike.
Rail workers could have gone on strike as early as Friday at the conclusion of a cooling-off period in negotiations.
Many lawmakers on both sides of the aisle expressed a willingness to intervene to avoid a walkoff, sounding alarm bells that a strike could send prices soaring and create supply chain bottlenecks amid already high inflation.
President Biden early Thursday morning announced the tentative railway labor agreement, which he said includes better pay, improved working conditions and “peace of mind” around their health care costs.
A White House-appointed emergency board had developed a contract proposal that includes raises, but rail unions in part wanted more predictable scheduling and the ability to take time off for doctor appointments without being penalized.
“For the American people, the hard work done to reach this tentative agreement means that our economy can avert the significant damage any shutdown would have brought,” Biden said.
The unions have not formally ratified the agreement, but Biden’s announcement came after Labor Secretary Marty Walsh convened railroad carriers and unions on Wednesday in hopes of averting a strike.