Possible rail freight strike to affect Amtrak customers: What to know

Amtrak will cancel long-distance trains starting Thursday

Amtrak is canceling its remaining long-distance routes in anticipation of potential disruptions caused by a potential freight railroad strike. 

Starting Thursday, all Amtrak long-distance trains will be canceled, Amtrak announced Wednesday. 

Amtrak said it will only operate trains this week that have enough time to reach their destinations before a strike or lockout would be allowed to begin just after midnight Friday.

The railroad service says it has already "begun phased adjustments" earlier this week in the event that contract negotiations are not resolved with its unions before Friday's strike deadline. 


amtrak in California

An Amtrak worker walks next to an Amtrak train during a station stop Dec. 9, 2021, in Fullerton, Calif.  (Mario Tama/Getty Images / Getty Images)

Negotiations do not involve Amtrak or its workforce, but many of its trains operate over freight railroad tracks. Almost all of its 21,000 route miles outside the Northeast Corridor (NEC) are on tracks owned, maintained and dispatched by freight railroads, according to Amtrak. 

"These adjustments are necessary to ensure trains can reach their terminals before freight railroad service interruption if a resolution in negotiations is not reached," Amtrak said in a statement. 

Amtrak declined to provide information about how many people would be affected by the cancellations.


Here are all the impacted trains: 

Service that was already suspended Tuesday includes: 

Southwest Chief: Runs between Chicago and Los Angeles 

Empire Builder: Runs between Chicago and the Portland/Seattle area  

California Zephyr: Runs between Chicago and the San Francisco area 

Train 421 portion of the Texas Eagle: Runs between Los Angeles and San Antonio

Service that was suspended Wednesday includes: 

City of New Orleans: Runs between Chicago and New Orleans 

Coast Starlight: Runs between Seattle and Los Angeles 

Crescent: Runs between New York and New Orleans 

Lake Shore Limited: Runs between New York and Chicago 

Amtrak passenger train departs in Chicago

Amtrak's California Zephyr passenger train departs Chicago Union Station in Chicago March 2, 2022.  (Luke Sharrett/AFP via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Silver Star: Runs between New York and the Tampa/Miami area 

Sunset Limited: Runs between New Orleans and Los Angeles 

Texas Eagle: Runs between Chicago and Los Angeles. 

Service that will be suspended Thursday includes:  

Auto Train: Runs between the Washington, D.C., area and the Orlando, Florida, area. 

Capitol Limited: Runs between the Washington, D.C., and Chicago 

Cardinal: Runs between New York and Chicago 

Palmetto: Runs between New York and the Tampa/Miami area. Impacts service south of Washington, D.C. 


Amtrak passenger train Southwest Chief is ready for departure. The doors are closed and passengers are on a platform in Albuquerque, N.M., May 24, 2015. (iStock / iStock)

The majority of trips along the Northeast Corridor, which runs from Boston through New York to Washington, D.C., and branch lines to Albany, New York; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; and Springfield, Massachusetts, will not be affected, according to Amtrak. 


Acela, its flagship service along the Northeast Corridor, will have a normal schedule and "only a small number of Northeast Regional departures would be impacted, according to Amtrak. 

Amtrak plans to inform impacted and potentially impacted customers of the situation and will offer to change reservations to another travel date. The railroad service will also waive any difference in fare for departures through Oct. 31 or offer passengers a full refund without cancellation fees.