NEWS

Threatened Amtrak strike could shut down Boston commuter rail

Peter Reuell

A possible Amtrak strike later this month could ``cripple'' commuter rail service from South Station, MBTA officials said Wednesday, creating havoc for MetroWest and Milford-area commuters.

The strike, which could begin Jan. 30, would effectively halt trains from arriving or departing at South Station, forcing commuters to take subways, buses, or their own cars.

Though the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority owns most of the commuter rail track, traffic at the Boston station would come to a stand-still because Amtrak workers dispatch trains. Service on the Providence and Stoughton lines would also stop, according to a statement from MBTA General Manager Dan Grabauskas.

``(The strike) would have a crippling effect on all MBTA commuter rail service that operates out of South Station,'' Grabauskas wrote in the statement.

While the agency is developing contingency plans for the strike, Grabauskas said the plan would only be able to accommodate about 25 percent of the 47,000 commuters who travel through South Station daily.

Amtrak workers have been without a contract for eight years, and have received only cost of living increases since 2000. Last week, a presidential panel convened to ward off the strike recommended workers receive a 35-percent pay increase, plus millions in back pay.

Amtrak, however, has said it would likely need help from Congress to pay for the proposal.

Peter Reuell can be reached at 508-626-4428, or at preuell@cnc.com.

MetroWest Daily News