A Message from Amtrak Regarding On-time Performance
We often hear from passengers about on-time performance (OTP), and want to take a moment to address this important issue. We’ve found it is the single biggest factor in your Amtrak experience.
How does America’s rail network operate?
Our nation was built by a world-class rail system that connects small towns and big cities via a vast rail network that is owned by freight railroads, but is shared with Amtrak. Amtrak carries passengers, while freight railroads carry products such as fuel or consumer goods.
Seventy-two percent of the miles traveled by Amtrak trains are on freight railroad infrastructure and are subject to operational decisions made by dispatchers and employees working for agencies other than Amtrak. By law, Amtrak is supposed to receive priority over freight trains even when operating on freight railroad tracks.
What are some recent issues?
Because Amtrak and freight railroads often operate on the same track, Amtrak’s on time performance depends on how freight railroads handle Amtrak trains.
In 2013, a federal court invalidated performance metrics developed under Section 207 of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA), designed to measure passenger train operations on freight railroads. In the wake of that decision, Amtrak’s on-time performance on freight railroad tracks fell dramatically. Amtrak is working with the freight railroads to raise awareness of this issue and identify possible solutions, including reminding them that priority dispatching of Amtrak trains remains established federal law. We are also asking the Surface Transportation Board to look into this issue.
How this impacts you:
On some of our routes, we are experiencing delays that prevent our passengers from getting to their destinations on time. This means that a small business owner can’t get to a meeting to sell their products, or that grandparents could miss a grandchild’s graduation. It may also be impacting your daily commute, or cause you to miss a connecting train.
What you can do about it:
Let the Surface Transportation Board know how poor on-time performance of Amtrak trains on freight railroads affects you by clicking here.
Together, we can move America forward.