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Chicago-Area Metra Lines Could Shut Down Friday If Freight Railroad Workers Go On Strike

BNSF, Union Pacific North, Union Pacific Northwest and Union Pacific West trains likely will not run if there is a strike because those lines are owned by and operated by freight railroads, officials said.

A Metra Electric train rides along 71st Street in South Shore on Aug. 19, 2021.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — Four Metra lines might not run if tens of thousands of freight railroad workers across the country go on strike as soon as this week.

Rail unions have been locked in contract negotiations with railroad companies. Two unions representing 57,000 conductors and engineers have yet to finalize terms, forcing President Joe Biden to intervene and raising the possibility of a walkout or lockout as soon as Friday when federal law allows for it.

A work stoppage would directly impact Metra because nine of its lines either use tracks owned by freight railroads, intersect with tracks operated by freight partners or are dispatched by freight railroads, agency officials said in a press release Tuesday.

Four lines are also owned by and directly operated by freight railroads: BNSF, Union Pacific North, Union Pacific Northwest and Union Pacific West. These four lines will not have service if there is a work stoppage, officials said.

Metra will still be able to operate service on two lines that it fully owns, operates and controls, the Metra Electric and Rock Island lines, officials said.

Negotiations between the freight railroads and unions are ongoing, and Metra officials are hopeful a settlement will be reached before the strike’s Friday deadline.

“However, we want you to be aware of this issue so that you can make alternate plans for travel should a work stoppage occur,” officials said in a statement.

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