New York: September was shaping up as a good month for commuters on Virginia Railway Express outside the nation’s capital, with the service offering 30 days of free rides to lure back riders lost during the pandemic.
Now, though, a freight-rail strike threatens to shut down service on the VRE entirely, along with numerous other commuter rail services across the country. “I really do not want to have to drive to Crystal City,” said Chris Barbagallo of Bristow, Virginia, as he waited Wednesday afternoon for the train back home.
VRE has said it will be forced to shut down service if a strike begins, and there are few feasible mass-transit alternatives for long-distance commuters.
The threat to service comes from a potential strike by freight-rail workers across the country. U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh met with both sides Wednesday to try to mediate a last-minute deal.
The disruption depends largely on whether the commuter line owns its own tracks or uses tracks owned by the freight companies. The largest commuter rail systems, all in metropolitan New York, are not affected, but the Metra system in Chicago is expecting disruptions on at least four of its 11 lines.