VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Your commute on the West Coast Express may be derailed later this week. A strike at CP Rail is looming.

The 72 hour strike notice has been served. That means about 5,000 workers can legally walk off the job as early as Wednesday.

West Coast Express trains rely on CP lines. If workers are not maintaining and monitoring tracks, the commuter rail service cannot run.

The government has not acted yet but Federal Labour Minister Lisa Raitt is expressing concern about the threat of a strike. The two sides are continuing to negotiate and Raitt issued a news release yesterday urging talks or binding arbitration rather than a work stoppage.

A spokeswoman for Raitt also wouldn’t comment on the possibility of blocking job action as was done with Air Canada and Canada Post.

The workers, represented by the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, include conductors, trainmen, yardmen, locomotive engineers and rail traffic controllers.

“A disruption of rail services would have a significantly negative impact on businesses and our national economy,” Raitt says in the release.

The workers have been negotiating with CP since October to try to reach a new contract. The last one expired in January. The union says CP is demanding major concessions on pensions, work rules and wages.

The company says if there is a work stoppage, it will “proceed with a safe and structured shut down of its train operations in Canada.”