Home The potential impact of railroad strike on holiday travel plans, prices for goods

The potential impact of railroad strike on holiday travel plans, prices for goods

Crystal Graham
train tracks
(© den-belitsky – stock.adobe.com)

A potential strike by a large group of railroad unions over quality-of-life conditions could make holiday travel plans by rail passengers difficult, said Virginia Tech economist Sudipta Sarangi.

“A brief strike will not have an impact on prices of most goods. It will have an impact on holiday travel,” Sarangi said. “People who were planning to exclusively rely on trains should monitor strike related news and think of alternative travel plans.”

The strike would include approximately 115,000 freight rail workers and some Amtrak and commuter rail systems that operate on tracks owned by the freight railroads.

“Given that the strike will encourage some people to shift their travel to other modes — we may expect airlines to increase their already high-ticket prices.”

Sarangi said that rail passengers forced to drive could lead to booked hotels, slower speeds, road rage, accidents and generally frustration at being forced to change travel plans.

“If the strike goes on for many days – the already fragile supply chain will take another hit. Prices will go up and there might be shortages of specific things – depending on what is reliant on railroad freight and existing inventories – no it will not be surprising that anticipating the strike – some are already thinking about increasing inventory,” he said.

A nationwide rail shutdown could cost the country $2 billion a day in lost economic output, according to The Association of American Railroads.

The five-year contract brokered by the Biden Administration was rejected Monday in an almost 50/50 vote among the largest unions. The deal gave workers a 24 percent raise over five years and an additional personal day. It also included modifications to attendance policies.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.