Amtrak is taking action to improve the on-time performance (OTP) of its trains that operate over tracks controlled by other railroads. In a complaint filed on Nov. 17, Amtrak is asking the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to investigate Norfolk Southern Railway (NS) and CSX Transportation (CSXT) for causing unacceptable delays for passengers traveling between Chicago and Washington, D.C., on the Capitol Limited service.
Amtrak is taking this action under Section 213 of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act, which mandates the STB initiate an investigation upon the filing of a complaint by Amtrak if the on-time performance of an intercity passenger train falls below 80% for two consecutive quarters.
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In addition, under federal law, Amtrak has a statutory right to preference in the dispatching of intercity passenger trains before freight trains. Due to persistent excessive delays caused by NS and CSXT freight train interference, the OTP of the Capitol Limited at its endpoint terminals was 2.7% for the quarter ending Sept. 30, down from an already substandard 33.6% the previous quarter.
The delays are continuing as Amtrak had to provide bus transportation between Toledo and Chicago for six days in October to better accommodate passengers when Capitol Limited trains had often been eight to ten hours late.
Poor on-time performance creates a major disruption for Amtrak customers due to delayed trains and missed connections. It also negatively impacts Amtrak and state-supported services through decreased ridership, lost revenues and higher operating costs.
Amtrak has taken additional actions to help improve the OTP of passenger trains including filing an amended complaint with the STB seeking an investigation of Canadian National Railway for causing unacceptable delays for passengers on the Illini/Saluki service in Illinois; twice testifying before the STB about the poor OTP of Amtrak trains; and establishing a Blue Ribbon Panel of rail and transportation leaders to identify infrastructure and operational improvements to address rail traffic gridlock in Chicago.