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Amtrak working to restore canceled trains after strike averted

Amtrak said it is working to restore canceled trains and reach out to affected customers.

KIRKWOOD, Mo. — A potential strike by railroad freight workers stopped some Amtrak trains in their tracks Wednesday. 

Early Thursday morning, President Joe Biden said a tentative agreement had been reached to avoid the strike. Amtrak told 5 On Your Side it is working to restore canceled trains and reach out to affected customers.

The freight rail and rail labor contract negotiations do not involve Amtrak or the Amtrak workforce.

If a strike led to freight rail service ending, then it would have affected Amtrak's use of the tracks owned by freight railroad companies, which is why Amtrak canceled long-distance routes.

Eli Barker and Esnath Mugambiwa take the train at the Kirkwood stop to Jefferson City about three times a year.

"We just hop on the train, it's a fun experience for the kids," Mugambiwa said.

Station Manager Bill Burckhalter said the fall season is a busy time for passengers looking to enjoy the scenic towns and the popular Octoberfest in Hermann.

"COVID is over, we've really gotten a lot busier because of the price of gas and some of the delays with the airlines and so forth. We've been very busy since about the end of July," Burckhalter said.

Amtrak canceled long-distance routes in preparation for a potential freight rail worker strike from the labor contract negotiations. 

"That won't affect us too much except for the people who were going to connect in Chicago and go to Maine or something like that," Burckhalter said.

Amtrak uses 21,000 miles of track owned by the freight rail operators involved in union negotiations. 

Passenger trains were affected, but supplies shipped long distance could have been affected by the strike as well. 

"I work in an industry where we rely on goods moving from one point to another and these disruptions in supply chain are a big issue and so it's kind of unnerving and a little scary to hear that this is affecting the rail system," Mugambiwa said.

A possible freight rail service interruption could cost the U.S. economy $2 billion per day. Ten-year-old Eli already knows the damage traveling does to our own pockets.

"Airplanes are also pretty expensive so I would just say that like, it's really worrying that this form of transport isn't going to be as accessible now," Eli said.

RELATED: How will the impending railroad strike impact consumers, businesses?

RELATED: Railroad strike looms closer: One union rejects deal, 2 accept ahead of deadline

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