Thursday, August 28, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

SEPTA rail strike appears likely

The first Regional Rail strike in 31 years seems increasingly likely to begin Saturday morning, despite last-minute federal mediation efforts scheduled for Friday.

Union leaders representing SEPTA's 220 locomotive engineers said Thursday they were not optimistic that National Mediation Board talks between SEPTA and the two rail unions would produce an agreement. A walkout could begin as soon as 12:01 a.m. Saturday.

A strike by the engineers and 210 railroad electrical workers would halt service on all 13 Regional Rail lines, which carry about 60,000 people on 126,000 trips on a typical weekday. Bus, subway, and trolley service would not be affected.

A rail strike could be brief, if Gov. Corbett asks President Obama to appoint a presidential emergency board to attempt to mediate the labor dispute. If Obama appoints such a board, the rail workers would be compelled to return to work for 240 days.

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    SEPTA is preparing for the possibility of a rail strike by adding cars to the Broad Street and Market-Frankford Lines during non-rush-hour periods. The transit agency said its subways, buses, and trolleys are operating at capacity already during rush hours.

    "Therefore, we encourage passengers to flex their work schedules by coming to work earlier or later than their normal shifts," SEPTA said Thursday. - Paul Nussbaum

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