The major commuter railroad line running through the Tri-Valley is scheduled to see service interruptions on Thursday -- and possibly a full system shutdown effective Friday -- due to stalled rail worker labor negotiations in the U.S.
With a national railroad work stoppage likely, half of the Altamont Corridor Express routes will be suspended Thursday, impacting passengers between Stockton to San Jose including stations in Pleasanton and Livermore. All ACE service could be canceled starting the next day if no deal is reached between the freight carriers and employee unions.
"An agreement has not been made among the freight railroads and the employee unions," ACE marketing manager David Lipari said in a service alert on Wednesday afternoon. "We are activating a modified service plan."
For Thursday, ACE trains 05 and 07 in the morning and ACE trains 08 and 10 will be suspended, according to Lipari. The westbound ACE 01 (4:10 a.m. departure from Stockton) and ACE 03 (5:35 a.m. departure), as well as the eastbound ACE 04 (3:35 p.m. departure from San Jose) and ACE 06 (4:35 p.m. departure) are scheduled to operate on Thursday.
If no further labor agreement is made by Thursday at 5 p.m., all ACE trains will be suspended starting on Friday until a resolution is reached, according to Lipari.
Union workers employed by the nation's Class I freight carriers, including Union Pacific Railroad on whose tracks ACE trains run, are currently in negotiations for better working conditions, salary, benefits and time off. The nationwide negotiations do not directly involve ACE personnel or contractors, but the impasse is now impacting the ACE system.
"We are working closely with Union Pacific to address the impact of a strike on operations and will continue to keep our passengers informed as this situation develops," Lipari said. "These suspensions will ensure that all trains will be out of the corridor in time, now that the suspension has occurred."
The federal Railway Labor Act mandates a process for negotiations that aims to avoid service interruptions on active rail lines. But a required 30-day cooling off period in the current negotiations expired this week, a work stoppage would be allowed to occur as soon as 12:01 a.m. Friday, according to Lipari.
A work stoppage would mean freight and passenger operations on corridors operated by Union Pacific and other freight carriers would stop, which is why ACE would be required to suspend operations until a final compromise is reached, according to Lipari.
The San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission, which operates ACE, "does recognize that the impacts to passengers who depend on the service is unfortunate," Lipari said.
The commission recommends passengers seek out non-freight rail forms of transportation until negotiations have been made. Lipari continued, "if the worker stoppage does halt, ACE and its contractors will be standing by to restart service as soon as possible."
SJRRC is set to make another announcement at 5 p.m. Thursday addressing the rail service. For updated ACE transportation alerts, visit acerail.com.
– Pleasanton Weekly editor Jeremy Walsh contributed to this story.