LIRR Prepares For Possible Amtrak Strike

Earlier this month, Newsday had a piece about The Long Island Rail Road preparing for a possible Amtrak strike. Unfortunately at this time the strike is still a strong possibility. Anyhow here is the article courtesy of Newsday:

The Long Island Rail Road is working on contingency plans in case of a strike by Amtrak workers at the end of the month, according to railroad officials.

If a strike does take place, the LIRR, along with the New Jersey Transit system, would be swept up in the national work stoppage – Amtrak owns the tracks at Pennsylvania Station, and the strike would effectively shut it down.

The strike cannot happen before 12:01 a.m. Jan. 30, since the two sides are in a 30-day cooling-off period mandated by federal law. Amtrak workers have been without a contract since 2000.

“The LIRR is closely monitoring the situation with Amtrak and is developing contingency plans with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in the event of a strike,” LIRR president Helena Williams said in a statement. Details of the plans have not been finalized. About 85,000 LIRR riders commute to Penn Station during the morning rush hour, according to an LIRR official.

“It will be a complete and utter nightmare,” said Gerry Bringmann, president of the LIRR Commuter Council, an advocacy group. He said people who work in Midtown, for example, and now walk a short way to their offices might have to take the LIRR to Jamaica station and then the E train to the 34th Street stop. “You’re adding half an hour into the commute, easy,” he said.

Subways would continue to run during the strike.

On Dec. 1, President Bush empaneled the five-person Presidential Emergency Board to investigate the contract dispute between Amtrak and nine unions representing such craft workers as signalmen, maintenance workers, firemen and oilers. The report, released Thursday by the White House, recommends that Amtrak employees receive back wages and pay increases, and there be no substantive work rule changes.

“All the unions will be prepared to make settlements based on the recommendations, and the ball will be in Amtrak’s court,” said Joel Parker, vice president of the Transportation Communication Union. “The unions do not want to strike,” he said. “The recommendations provide the basis for a settlement.” A strike would affect Amtrak trains across the country, he said.

An Amtrak official said the railway plans to carefully review the recommendations of the PEB, but is worried about covering the increased costs. “Amtrak’s concern has always been the railroad’s ability to make pay increases retroactive and to achieve efficiencies through work rule reform, and we’ll be looking closely at the recommendations, particularly as they relate to these issues,” an Amtrak official said in a statement.

Do you want to see utter chaos up close & personal? If so, go to the Sutphin Blvd./Archer Ave. station & see the madhouse on the platforms for the E train. I wouldn’t count on the chaos to really spill over to the J & Z since most ignore the line although it is a great alternative especially if heading to Lower Manhattan! I do not want to see a strike but if one does take place, I will be checking out the scene at Jamaica & photographing it for Eye On Transit.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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