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A man checks his watch beneath an Amtrak train departure board in Penn Station, New York City. - 


Doug Krizner: Amtrak management and its unions are scheduled to resume contract talks this week. Workers are threatening to walk on January 30. Now if a strike happens, it wouldn't just disable the inter-city train service up and down the northeast corridor. It could mean an economic hit for New York City. Ashley Milne-Tyte has more.

Ashley Milne-Tyte: Almost 200,000 people a day take the commuter railroad into Penn Station. Amtrak happens to own and run much of that railroad track.

Martin Robins teaches at Rutgers University's transportation center. He says a strike would mean havoc for Manhattan-bound commuters.

Martin Robins: The workers that perform the various services that keep the commuter trains running would also recognize the strike, and there would be a total shutdown of the northeast corridor. The economic impact of that would be catastrophic.

But Ross Capon of the National Association of Railroad Passengers thinks a strike is unlikely. He says Amtrak will probably meet its unions' demands -- especially given the government's position.

Ross Capon: They're facing a Bush-appointed presidential emergency board that's sided with the unions. Which is sort of an anomaly, I guess.

He does have one worry. He says Amtrak might claim it can't placate the unions without cutting passenger services.

I'm Ashley Milne-Tyte for Marketplace.