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Philadelphia Rail Service Resumes After Obama Intervenes

By Maryclaire Dale, Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA -- Commuter rail service in the Philadelphia area was restored early Sunday, just hours after workers returned to their jobs following a brief strike that was ended when President Barack Obama intervened.

Jerri Williams, spokeswoman for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, said all workers scheduled for morning shifts Sunday showed up and some train lines with early starts, such as the Airport Line, were rolling before 5 a.m. A few hours later, the company said on its Web site that normal operations had resumed.

"Regional Rail is back," Williams said in an email.

The strike began after negotiations between SEPTA and its engineers and electricians unions failed to reach a new contract deal Friday. It shut down 13 train lines that carry commuters from Philadelphia to the suburbs, Philadelphia International Airport and New Jersey.

Obama on Saturday granted Republican Gov. Tom Corbett's request to create a presidential emergency board to mediate the contract dispute, forcing the 400 union workers to go back. Obama ordered the establishment of the three-member board effective at 12:01 a.m. Sunday and called for "a swift and smooth resolution."

The last regional rail strike, in 1983, lasted more than three months.

Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen Vice President Stephen Bruno said his union's members were complying with the order to be back on duty at 12:01 a.m.

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers President Terry Gallagher said Obama's intervention was "what we were waiting for."

"We have been five years without an agreement, trying to get to this point, and we're happy we're here now," Gallagher said.

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