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Riders relieved Philadelphia rail strike is over

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 15, 2014 at 8:01 pm •  Published: June 15, 2014
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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Passengers expressed relief Sunday that Philadelphia-area commuter trains were back on track after a one-day strike threatened to disrupt work schedules for tens of thousands of commuters in the coming week.

Employees ended their walkout after President Barack Obama appointed an emergency board to mediate the contract dispute between the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority and two of its unions.

An arrivals-and-departures board showed all regional rails running on time late Sunday morning at Suburban Station in downtown Philadelphia. By late evening, SEPTA spokeswoman Jerri Williams said operations throughout the day had run well and she anticipated a good start to the workweek Monday.

"We anticipate the workweek will be like any other Monday with the trains operating on or close to schedule," Williams said.

At Suburban Station, Steve Bessler and his dad got off to catch the subway for a Father's Day outing to the Phillies game.

Bessler, who also takes the train to his job during the week, said thinking about the potential commuting chaos on Monday "really did stress me for a while." His backup plan was to drive to the subway, whose lines weren't affected by the strike.

"I was dreading that because everyone else would have been doing the same thing," Bessler said.

The strike began after SEPTA failed to reach a new contract deal Friday with its engineers and electricians unions. It shut down 13 rail lines that carry about 60,000 passengers each weekday between Philadelphia and its suburbs in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.

About 400 workers walked off the job Saturday but were required by law to return after the creation of the emergency board. Buses, subways and trolleys continued operating.

All striking employees reported for work Sunday except for one, whose absence might not be strike-related, Williams said.

Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen vice president Stephen Bruno said the strike could have been avoided if SEPTA had agreed to their proposal or accepted binding arbitration.

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