Will Freight Trains Be Shut Down for the Holidays?

A freight train in Arizona.

Will Freight Trains Be Shut Down for the Holidays?

Trucks and trains move most of the long-distance freight in the U.S.

But America’s freight rail system could soon go offline just as we hit the holiday season.

According to Union Pacific, America’s freight rail system spans more than 140,000 miles, employs more than 100,000 people, and far outpaces other developed countries in its ability to move large amounts of freight over long distances.

Since 2019, negotiations have been ongoing between freight rail operators and unions over a new labor deal to address workers’ concerns and keep the lines moving.

But no agreement has been reached yet and a nationwide strike could begin as soon as December 9 without a new deal.

A strike would be a major blow to the U.S. economy, and the White House has made it clear that avoiding a rail shutdown is a top priority. In September, the administration thought it had facilitated a long-term labor deal between freight companies and the biggest unions representing rail workers. But several of the unions voted the deal down, setting up the possibility for this strike.

Yesterday, President Biden called on Congress to pass legislation to avert a strike, stating that “Congress has the power to adopt the [previous] agreement and prevent a shutdown. It should set aside politics and partisan division and deliver for the American people.”

Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress agreed to come together and hash out a solution.

Today, they announced that appropriators would meet as soon as tomorrow to arrange a spending bill that would fund the railroads, as well as the federal government.