Amtrak to Temporarily Cut Some Services Over Vaccine Mandate
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - US national passenger rail carrier Amtrak will likely be forced to cut back on long-distance services after the federal vaccine mandate takes effect next month, President Stephen Gardner told a House panel on Wednesday.
As he said during testimony before a House transportation and infrastructure subcommittee, Amtrak must comply with the federal mandate effective January 4, 2022 that employees of government contractors be fully vaccinated. Gardner said 94 percent of Amtrak employees have been fully vaccinated and 96% have received at least one dose.
"We will not initially have enough employees to operate all the trains... when the federal mandate takes effect," Gardner said. "This will likely necessitate temporary frequency reductions, primarily for our long-distance services."
Amtrak, he added, lost a number of engineers, conductors and on-board service employees who retired or left during the pandemic.
The rail carrier has also put a temporary hold on hiring because of funding uncertainties and Covid-related distancing requirements that have affected training, he said.