Valley rail service is still up in the air

Rail workers are cutting it close this morning and are considering a new labor agreement within an hour of the departure of the first valley train.

The discontent among the engineers and other workers comes from a change in the companies providing the services. The nation’s rail institute has just been authorized to make direct contracts for 352 billion colons, about $647,000, for maintenance of the rights-of-way, mechanical work and other necessary services. The length of the contract is just 2.7 months, according to the Contraloría General de la República, which approved the agreements.

There are three companies that will share in the money, but the firm Desmantelamiento de la Catenaria SAL is expected to assume the work of overseeing the rail staff.

Rail employees complained over the weekend that they had no agreement with the new company, but a meeting is scheduled for 4 a.m. today at the Estación al Pacifico to iron out the details. That is just an hour before the first trains are scheduled to leave to pick up passengers.

The rail agency, the Instituto Costarricense de Ferrocarriles, has been less than candid about the situation. Customers have posted questions about a possible strike to the firm’s Facebook page, but there was no response.

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