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New FRA rule for Amtrak performance on host railroads

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rickycourtney

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The Federal Railroad Administration has issued its final rule establishing metrics and a minimum standard to measure on-time performance and service quality for Amtrak trains, a rule hailed by the passenger railroad as “a victory for Amtrak customers.”

The rule requires Amtrak and host railroads to certify Amtrak schedules, sets an on-time minimum standard of arrival within 15 minutes of the scheduled time for 80% of any two consecutive calendar quarters, and also establishes metrics for ridership, train delays, station performance, and host running time.
Amtrak, in a statement, called the rule “a victory for Amtrak customers and for anyone who believes people and communities across the country deserve a world-class passenger rail network with schedules that you can count on. For too long, many freight railroads have put their cargo ahead of our passengers — in direct opposition to the law. This rule will help Amtrak enforce its rights when they are violated, in order to get you to your destination on schedule.”
The AAR (Association of American Railroads - freight railroad trade group) reports as of late Monday afternoon that it and its host-railroad members are still reviewing the final rule against the key principles the organization outlined in its comments to the FRA in June. Those included concerns over outdated Amtrak schedules; the need for a dispute resolution process; and the need for Amtrak to provide close-to-real-time daily, station-specific ridership data.
The rule will be effective on December 16. It is available in full here.
 
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Ziv

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Oct 25, 2011
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So they may have made the stick a tiny bit more effective. Maybe.
But is it possible that using a carrot might be more effective?
What if the host railroads received bonuses if Amtrak meets its 80% on time goal? Or do the host railroads benefit too much from prioritizing freight over passengers that it would take too much money? A couple million dollars might be a bargain if it could convince CSX and/or BNSF to give Amtrak the right of way more often.
Or maybe Amtrak could pay for building second tracking/third tracking sections in the heaviest trafficed (sp?) areas of the host railroads systems. Then they could bargain for Amtrak priority on right of way or the host railroad does not get the right to use the Amtrak tracks that week.
Sorry for the newby thoughts on this. I imagine there are dozens of reasons why neither would work but it is frustrating to see Amtrak hobbled this way.
 

Devil's Advocate

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Unless it has teeth (enforcement) its just a feel good press release.
Feel good press release meets feel bad post from captain obvious.

So they may have made the stick a tiny bit more effective. Maybe. But is it possible that using a carrot might be more effective? What if the host railroads received bonuses if Amtrak meets its 80% on time goal?
Amtrak already pays out bonuses for on-time performance. Lack of sufficient improvement is why a stick is needed.

A couple million dollars might be a bargain if it could convince CSX and/or BNSF to give Amtrak the right of way more often.
Uncooperative hosts are unlikely to be swayed by an amount Amtrak can reasonably afford.

Or maybe Amtrak could pay for building second tracking/third tracking sections in the heaviest trafficed (sp?) areas of the host railroads systems.
Although it's not always paid by Amtrak specifically this is often included in passenger rail negotiations.
 

frequentflyer

OBS Chief
Joined
Jun 10, 2008
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So they may have made the stick a tiny bit more effective. Maybe.
But is it possible that using a carrot might be more effective?
What if the host railroads received bonuses if Amtrak meets its 80% on time goal? Or do the host railroads benefit too much from prioritizing freight over passengers that it would take too much money? A couple million dollars might be a bargain if it could convince CSX and/or BNSF to give Amtrak the right of way more often.
Or maybe Amtrak could pay for building second tracking/third tracking sections in the heaviest trafficed (sp?) areas of the host railroads systems. Then they could bargain for Amtrak priority on right of way or the host railroad does not get the right to use the Amtrak tracks that week.
Sorry for the newby thoughts on this. I imagine there are dozens of reasons why neither would work but it is frustrating to see Amtrak hobbled this way.
Remember reading a Trains some time ago on BNSF's handling of the SWC. BNSF stated the SWC was one of its most profitable trains because of the on time bonuses paid by Amtrak. This was about 10 years or so ago, and Amtrak has revamped its bonus payments since then. Especially in the "must make profit" era.
 
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Cho Cho Charlie

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Apr 9, 2009
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I remember back when Amtrak and CSX came to an understanding about east coast trains. It was great that the Silvers ran mostly on time (and even many times arrived early).

It didn't last all that long.

What I would like to see is an end to "loco non gratae". Once a train is late, Amtrak just writes it off, and it gets later and later.
 
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