If you’re planning to travel with Amtrak this weekend, it may be time to start looking into alternatives.The national passenger rail carrier announced on Wednesday that it would cancel trains on most of its long-distance routes beginning Thursday in anticipation of a strike by freight railroad workers, which could begin Friday.”Amtrak is closely monitoring the ongoing freight rail – rail labor contract negotiations. The negotiations do not involve Amtrak or the Amtrak workforce. While we are hopeful that parties will reach a resolution, Amtrak has now begun phased adjustments to our service in preparation for a possible freight rail service interruption later this week,” the operator said in a statement.”These initial adjustments include canceling all Long Distance trains and could be followed by impacts to most State-Supported routes. These adjustments are necessary to ensure trains can reach their terminals before freight railroad service interruption if a resolution in negotiations is not reached.Are trains safe for travel?: Experts say yesNow hiring: Amtrak to fill 4,000 new job positions across the boardWhat am I entitled to if my train is canceled?According to Amtrak, it will try to notify travelers at least 24 hours in advance if their train will be canceled. The railroad will offer full refunds for any canceled trains or will move the reservation to another travel date without charging any fare differences through Oct. 31. What routes will be affected?Amtrak plans to cancel all long-distance trains beginning on Thursday, including the Auto Train between Virginia and Florida, and all its other interstate routes. The railroad warns that state-sponsored trains could also be affected once the strike begins.Trains on the Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington, which Amtrak owns, are unlikely to be affected, and Amtrak plans to continue operating a full Acela schedule. Will this affect commuter railroads?Some commuters could face issues as well.Metra, which operates commuter trains around Chicago, contracts with freight railroads for service on some of its lines. In a statement, Metra warns that some services will be pared back on Thursday, and will be suspended Friday on all branches operated by Union Pacific and BNSF if the strike takes place. And Virginia Railway Express in the DC area also warned on Twitter of potential disruptions. Other operators across the country could have services affected if they use freight railroad trackage, so it’s best to check with your local operator about what the strike could mean for your commute. Why would a freight railroad strike affect passenger trains?Although Amtrak operates services across the country, it actually owns very few of the tracks it uses. Many of its trains outside the Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington use lines that are controlled by freight railroads. So, a strike by workers on those railroads could affect Amtrak’s ability to operate in their territory.Freight rail workers have been negotiating a contract for three years, and two of the largest unions have not supported terms in the latest round of talks. 

Source: www.usatoday.com