Trains News Wire Digest for Tuesday, March 31

MTA death toll rises; Amtrak, VIA take additional virus precautions; and more
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Tuesday morning rail news:

— Eight workers for New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority are now reported to have died of complications from the COVID-19 virus, Spectrum News reports. As of Monday, the agency has 333 confirmed cases of the virus and 2,700 workers in quarantine. While the MTA has acquired 75,000 disposable surgical masks for use by employees, the New York Daily News reports, the head of the Transportation Workers Union Local 100 said he believes the fatalities and spread of the disease among workers “could have been mitigated” if such protective equipment had been available sooner.

— Amtrak is reducing bookings in coach and business classes to 50% of capacity to accommodate social-distance guidelines as part of its latest update to measures addressing operation during the coronavirus outbreak. The passenger railroad has also extended its waiver of change fees on existing or new reservations through May 31.

— VIA Rail Canada has outlined its procedures to meet a Canadian government directive to screen passengers for those exhibiting symptoms of the COVID-19 virus. CTV News reports that workers at Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, and Quebec City will ask questions including:

- Do you have a fever or cough?

- Do you have breathing difficulties?

- Have you been refused boarding by a company or any other carrier in the last 14 days due to a medical reason related to the COVID-19?

- Are you subject to a provincial or local public health order?

Rules that went into effect at noon on Monday ban domestic travel in Canada for those exhibiting symptoms of the virus.

— Eighteen workers for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority have tested positive for the coronavirus, the Boston Globe reports, including two rail operators, a rail yard worker, and a subway supervisor. The MBTA and the union representing operators are negotiating about additional protective measures for workers, while the union representing bus maintenance workers is seeking more protective equipment.

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