Digest: Sounder commuter service stopped by mudslide

News Wire Digest third section for Dec. 22: Plan to change route of Amtrak Capitol Corridor trains draws objections; union decries SEPTA policy on COVID quarantines
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Tuesday midday rail news:

Sounder North commuter service halted by mudslide

Sound Transit has cancelled Sounder North commuter rail service today and tomorrow because of a mudslide between the Edwards and Mukilteo, Wash., stations. A commuter advisory reports special bus service for Sounder customers is available. With no service scheduled Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, the earliest service will resume on the North line is Monday, Dec. 28. Amtrak service, which normally also would be affected, is not operating north of Seattle because of COVID-19 service reductions.

Capitol Corridor service seeks reroute south of Oakland, but objections surface
Amtrak Capitol Corridor service between Oakland and the South San Francisco Bay area could change its route, easing congestion on Union Pacific’s Niles Subdivision and decreasing travel times but ending Amtrak service at stations in Hayward and Fremont. The East Bay Times reports the $264 million South Bay Connect project would shift the passenger trains to a line closer to San Francisco Bay, and would lead to construction of a new station in the Ardenwood neighborhood of west Fremont. The Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority has projected ridership could increase by 288,000 the first year because the route would trim 13 minutes off travel times. City officials in Hayward and Fremont are opposing the loss of service, while other communities are expressing environmental concerns about additional traffic on the western line, which runs through wetlands. An environmental impact report is scheduled for 2022.

SEPTA workers union considers legal action over quarantine time-off policy
A union representing Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority workers is considering legal action over agency policy that it says encourages workers to report for their shift when they are sick or may have been exposed to COVID-19. In a press release, Transportation Workers Union Local 234 said SEPTA was putting workers and riders at risk “with a shortsighted, Scrooge-like quarantine policy,” with local President Willie Brown calling the policy “foolhardy.” The Philadelphia Inquirer reports SEPTA policy gives workers up to four weeks of paid quarantine leave — enough for two 14-day quarantines for coronavirus exposure, as recommended by the Ccenters for Disease Control and Prevention. If workers face a third quarantine, they would have to apply for sick pay at half their regular wage. A SEPTA official told the newspaper that fewer than 160 employees have used all 160 hours available; another said a legal battle is “the last thing” the agency wants.

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