On September 14, 2022, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce put out a statement discussing how a national rail shutdown could impact consumers saying that “a national rail strike will only make America’s inflation and supply chain crises worse”.
In the statement, they said that “If an agreement is not reached by the nation’s six largest freight railroads and remaining unions in the next two days, our nation’s railroads will shut down, causing national economic consequences.”
Adding that the shutdown could cost “more than $2 billion per day”.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says that the shutdown would include:
- Disruptions to Amtrak service will impact approximately 12.2 million daily riders in 46 states.
- Everyday there are approximately 205 rail cars full of meat and poultry moving across this country to ensure store shelves are stocked.
- There are around 6,300 railcars of food and farm products, and a single loaded railcar contains enough wheat for 260,000 loaves of bread.
- A significant reduction in the supply of chlorine for the purpose of water treatment, which could further result in community rationing of clean water.
- More than 2,000 carloads carry 75% of all newly finished automobiles. Automakers rely on rail service to transport inventory, and an interruption in rail service would quickly disrupt auto production.
Additionally, commuters, the auto industry, energy, agriculture, and retail may all be impacted by the shutdown.
The AP is reporting that on Monday, September 12, railroads began curtailing shipments of hazardous materials to protect the dangerous cargo because “no one wants to risk leaving flammable chemicals stranded on the railroad tracks if a strike occurs”.
Additionally, nearly 300,000 barrels of crude oil move by rail each day and “about 5 million barrels of propane, representing a third of U.S. consumption, are moved by rail monthly,”.
While approximately “70% of ethanol produced in the U.S. is shipped by rail, and ethanol accounts for about a tenth of U.S. gasoline volume,” and “Nearly 75% of the coal moved to electric utilities in the first half of 2022 was moved by rail,”.