Metro-North conductors sue, claiming health risk from crowded trains

News Wire Digest third section: VRE, CSX extend agreement; government to distribute 100 million masks to travelers
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A New York-bound Metro-North train arrives in Westport, Conn., in August 2019. Metro-North conductors are suing the railroad, saying crowded trains put their health at risk.
TRAINS: David Lassen

Friday midday rail news in brief:

Metro-North conductors sue over crowded trains

Conductors have filed suit against Metro-North, saying their health is at risk because of increasingly crowded trains increase the possibility of contracting COVID-19. The Poughkeepsie Journal reports the suit was filed Thursday in federal court by the chairman of the Association of Commuter Rail Employees Division I, the union representing the conductors. It seeks the restoration of the regular Metro-North schedule to allow more social distancing. The suit escalates a dispute that began when the conductors complained of crowded trains; Metro-North’s response suggested that the group’s concern was mostly about lost earnings because fewer trains were operating [see “NS strategy officer departs …,” News Wire Digest, June 2, 2020]. Metro-North spokeswoman Abbey Collins repeated that claim on Friday while calling the conductors’ move a “baseless lawsuit [that’ actually threatens public health and safety by preventing Metro-North from increasing service as ridership returns.”

VRE extends operating agreement with CSX
Virginia Railway Express has extended its operating agreement with CSX Transportation for use of the railroad’s tracks between Fredricksburg, Va., and Washington D.C. for another year, ensuring continued operation of the commuter railroad. VRE will pay $8.5 million for use of the route in fiscal 2021, Potomac Local News reports. The extension is only for one year because of the agreement between the state of Virginia and CSX, which will see the state acquire CSX right-of-way [see “Virginia, CSX announce major rail infrastructure plan,” Trains News Wire, Dec. 20, 2019]. This should end the need for a similar agreement in the future.

Government to distribute 100 million masks for use by travelers
The U.S. government will distribute nearly 100 million cloth face masks for use by air, rail, and transit passengers, Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao announced today. The Departmet of Transportation, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Health and Human Services are all involved in the effort using masks from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. More information is available on the FEMA website.


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