'What we can control, we will': Metra preps for strike that could halt UP, BNSF

  • Metra riders face the prospect of no BNSF or Union Pacific trains Friday with a potential strike by rail workers.

    Metra riders face the prospect of no BNSF or Union Pacific trains Friday with a potential strike by rail workers. Daily Herald File Photo

Updated 9/14/2022 5:41 PM

Metra expects Milwaukee District trains will run Friday along with three other lines, but the popular Union Pacific and BNSF routes will be sidelined if freight rail workers strike.

"What we can control, we will," Metra Executive Director Jim Derwinski told Metra board directors at a Wednesday meeting.


"Right now we have tentative agreements with the freight railroads that we will be able to operate service on all but the three Union Pacific lines and the BNSF. Our goal during this time is to message the public as often as possible."

The BNSF and UP, which own and operate their namesake lines, "have communicated that they will begin curtailing service after the evening rush hour on Thursday in preparation for the potential work stoppage," officials said in a statement Wednesday.

"We are continuing to communicate with our freight partners regarding our ability to run trains on the Heritage Corridor and North Central Service lines and will provide updates as soon as possible.

"As of now, we expect to be able to operate scheduled service Friday on the Metra Electric, Rock Island, Southwest Service, Milwaukee District North, and Milwaukee District West lines."

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Metra is working with its sister agencies, Pace bus and the Chicago Transit Authority, to see if they will honor Metra tickets if a strike occurs.

Amtrak suspensions

Two of the nation's largest unions representing rail workers are poised to walk out Friday after unsuccessful negotiations with freight carriers. A labor action would suspend multiple commuter railways across the U.S. and Amtrak, plus have devastating consequences on the shipment of essential goods.

On Monday, Amtrak preemptively canceled service on the California Zephyr between Chicago and San Francisco, and on the Southwest Chief between Chicago and Los Angeles. Both have stops in Naperville.

The railroad also suspended service on the Empire Builder between Chicago and Seattle, which has a stop in Glenview.

Union and railroad leaders were called to Washington on Wednesday to meet with Labor Secretary Marty Walsh in a last-ditch effort to prevent a walkout.

Starting Thursday night

Meanwhile, service is already being curtailed for Thursday night trains on the BNSF and UP lines,

Metra announced BNSF Trains 1296, 1298, 1300 and 1302 departing Aurora and Trains 1289, 1291, 1293 and 1295 leaving Union Station are canceled for Thursday.


On the UP North Thursday, inbound Trains 372 and 374 plus outbound Trains 371, 373, 375 and 377 are canceled.

On the UP Northwest, inbound Trains 666 and 668 plus outbound Trains 661, 663, 665 and 601 are canceled.

And on the UP West, inbound Train 68 plus outbound Trains 69 and 71 are canceled.

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