Amtrak cuts train service amid Covid surge through its ranks

Amtrak said Friday it would temporarily reduce service on some trains due to staffing issues stemming from an increase in cases of the Omicron variant among workers.

While nearly 97% of Amtrak workers are fully immunized, several hundred employees — including service personnel, conductors, engineers and mechanical crew members — have been put on spread due to Covid-19 infections or exposures, officials said. The agency will suspend 8% of its train departures over the next 10 weeks.

“These Covid-related absences, combined with the general shortage of skilled labor that Amtrak and other carriers face, have reduced our ability to consistently meet our current schedules and have impacted the pace hiring and training efforts,” said Jason Abrams, an Amtrak. spokesperson, said in a statement.

The reductions will affect the North East regional route, where 8% of weekly departures will be suspended between January 24 and March 27. Amtrak will also reduce some of its long-distance service and suspend 6% of its weekly departures along state-supported routes. from Jan. 18 to March 27.

Amtrak said it is working to address the issue, including trying to hire more workers and train new staff to “avoid staff shortages due to unplanned absences,” according to the statement.

Passengers affected by the service reductions will be offered same-day travel alternatives and customers will be notified of the changes, according to the statement.

The suspensions follow previous service reductions, both weather-related and Covid-related, that Amtrak instituted between New Year’s Eve and Jan. 6. Last month, officials struck an optimistic tone and said they would likely be able to avoid service cuts after dropping the mandate to vaccinate all employees against Covid-19. The agency had dropped the warrant after a federal court ruling halted enforcement of the executive order for federal contractors.

Jim Mathews, president and CEO of the Rail Passengers Association, said the agency’s decision to cut service reflected how the virus continued to disrupt Americans’ daily lives and travel plans.

“This is a nationwide issue, not just an Amtrak issue, and we are encouraged to see Amtrak trying to make the smallest cuts possible to get the railroad through,” said Mr. Mathews.

Leave a Comment