Amtrak likely to cut services over federal vaccine mandate, executive says

Amtrak’s president told Congress on Thursday that some train service would likely need to be scaled back temporarily due to around 5% of its workforce remaining unvaccinated. 

Stephen Gardner wrote in written testimony he didn’t anticipate having an adequate amount of employees to meet the Biden administration’s Jan. 4 federal coronavirus vaccination deadline, necessitating service reductions, according to the Wall Street Journal. 

He said he thought the company could return to its full schedule by March or earlier. 

“We anticipate proactively needing to temporarily reduce some train frequencies across our network in January to avoid staffing-related cancellations — with our plan to fully restore all frequencies by March, or as soon as we have qualified employees available,” Gardner told lawmakers during a House transportation subcommittee hearing. 

SENATE VOTES TO REPEAL BIDEN FEDERAL VACCINE MANDATE FOR BUSINESSES 

Gardner said long-distance routes will likely be the most affected, according to the Journal. 

Amtrak is set to terminate unvaccinated workers on January 4th which may force them to reduce the frequency of long-distance service. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images) (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images / Getty Images)

He said some Amtrak crew bases have a “relatively high percentage of unvaccinated employees” and if those employees refuse to get the shot by the deadline, “we will not have sufficient trained staff to support current service frequency on affected routes.”

“Achieving full-service levels, while complying with the vaccination requirement and continuing to prioritize the safety of our customers and employees, is our goal,” he added. 

Amtrak has around 18,000 employees. 

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This week, a judge blocked the federal mandate for employees of federal contractors and the Senate voted Wednesday to repeal the federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate for private businesses.

Amtrak didn’t immediately return Fox Business’ late-night request for comment.