Angry SEPTA strikers block Regional Rail

SEPTA workers striking for a better contract created rush-hour mayhem Tuesday by cuting off a rail option still available to commuters.

The strike by members of TWU Local 234 didn’t affect the Regional Rail service that transports thousands of commuters between Philadelphia and surrounding suburbs. Those employees are represented by a different union.

But striking workers began picketing at Wayne Junction at about 4:15 p.m. and blocked Regional Rail employees from entering and getting to work.

“The pickets are blocking access to some facilities where Regional Rail train crews report to work,” a SEPTA spokesman confirmed.

As of rush hour around 5 p.m., thousands of commuters were stranded in Suburban Station.

Meanwhile, TWU Local 234 said that negotiations had not proceeded at all on Tuesday.

“As of 5 p.m., the TWU 234 bargaining team has not heard one word from SEPTA’s management, despite their claims to desire a quick settlement and the need for around-the-clock bargaining,” the union said in a news release.

By 6 p.m., SEPTA obtained an injunction that will allow Regional Rail crews and engineers to return to work, they said.

“SEPTA train crews are now able to access train facilities that were blocked earlier due to TWU strike-related pickets,” said SEPTA spokeswomanCarla Showell-Lee. ” Cancellations are subsiding, however, significant delays are expected to continue through rush hour system-wide on Regional Rail.”

The court injunction gives SEPTA the authority to stop workers from interfering with Regional Rail service, Showell-Lee said.

“SEPTA obtained an injunction in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court that allows train crews and other employees to report to their assigned work locations within the City of Philadelphia,” she said in an email. “While TWU strike-related demonstrations are permitted, the injunction bars picketers from interfering with Regional Rail service. SEPTA hopes this will ensure that incidents like those that disrupted service today will not happen again.”

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