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STB OTP Rule-Making

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Tom

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Can someone explain what the purpose of this OTP rule-making would be and what the implications would be? Could this allow the Amtrak OTP metrics to sidestep the Supreme Court case?

http://www.progressiverailroading.com/amtrak/news/STB-to-launch-rulemaking-proceedings-for-ontime-performance--44498

The Surface Transportation Board (STB) will launch a rulemaking proceeding to define "on-time performance" under the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 (PRIIA), the agency announced Friday.

In making its announcement, the STB granted the Association of American Railroads' (AAR) petition asking the agency to pursue rulemaking proceedings to define on-time performance. A provision under PRIIA allowed Amtrak and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to jointly develop standards for on-time performance of Amtrak trains operating on privately owned freight railroads' track.
 

PRR 60

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This is actually the Surface Transportation Board (STB) sidestepping Amtrak. The contentious issue was Amtrak setting the on-time standards outside of the normal STB rulemaking process. What the STB is doing is going through full rulemaking for setting Amtrak on-time standards within it's normal process. This is a process where all involved parties have input. Once complete and the rules are enacted by the STB, all parties would be bound by the rules.

Amtrak is not at all happy with what the STB is doing. Amtrak wanted to set the rules themselves, and then let the STB sort out what was and was not actionable based on the specifics of each alleged violation. That is how the issue was written into the law. Amtrak's criteria to trigger action was on-time rate of less than 80% for two consecutive quarters (as measured by Amtrak), with no accounting for cause. Then, in each and every case, the STB would have to drill into the details to see if the standard was reasonable and the degree to which the host railroad was at fault. The STB felt that this would be repetitive and time-consuming.

What the STB hopes to develop instead is a more complex set of criteria that will clearly identify prior to hearings when a host railroad is in violation. That criterial may or may not be what Amtrak would like. The STB claimed that existing law gives them the right to do this, and that since the Amtrak law required the STB to make final decisions concerning violations, this rulemaking is essentially formalizing that process and does not violate the law.

It will be interesting to see Amtrak's reaction as this process moves forward. What is says for now is that the Amtrak 80% criteria is dead as far as the STB is concerned, and that they will not act on any of the existing complaints until their rules are in place.
 
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jis

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I had thought that the existing law allows STB to step upto the plate and make rules in this area and had wondered why another law was needed. Looks like the STB has finally woken up from its deep slumber that lasted many years.
 

neroden

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I don't think the Class I freights are going to be happy about this. They've been fighting since the late 1960s to have *no* rules, so that they can delay trains as much as they like. They may think that they'll be able to get the STB to write worthless, gutted rules -- but they won't. If the STB does that, the STB will promptly be sued for taking arbitrary and unreasonable administrative actions contrary to law (I'll be happy to help prepare that lawsuit), will lose immediately, and will be forced to start over again.

Some of the STB members these days seem to actually understand that trains are supposed to run on time. There will probably be a set of rules which actually establishes standards and sets penalties. If *any* sort of enforceable rules had been in effect last winter, Norfolk Southern would be paying billions in penalties.

Having petitioned the STB to make rules, I expect the Class I managements to sue (frivolously, of course) as soon as the rules are made, because they won't like the rules. IMNSHO, most of the Class Is are run by jackasses who belong in prison. They could try just following the law, but nooooo.
 
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neroden

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It will be interesting to see Amtrak's reaction as this process moves forward. What is says for now is that the Amtrak 80% criteria is dead as far as the STB is concerned, and that they will not act on any of the existing complaints until their rules are in place.
I suspect that the actual goal of the Class Is, which they may achieve, was to cause process delay in the existing cases. The two existing cases are all clear cases of lawbreaking by the Class Is; egregious cases where the Class Is broke the original passenger priority laws dating back to before Amtrak, have no defense and should be hit with sanctions for making frivolous arguments. I hope they get charged interest on the damages they owe when they finally lose.
 

PRR 60

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For those interested, here is the Decision issued by the STB initiating the rulemaking proceeding.

Docket No. EP 726
 

City of Miami

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The Surface Transportation Board said Thursday it has withdrawn a proposal that would have altered a law that gives Amtrak preference while traveling on freight railroads’ tracks. The board said it couldn’t resolve the broad disagreement between the parties and will refine its approach to the matter as specific cases arise.
 

Thirdrail7

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Here is the updated proposed rules regarding Amtrak OTP and service metrics.
0
Metrics and Minimum Standards for Intercity Passenger Rail Service

A few highlights.

It seemed like everyone that deals with Amtrak received a chance to chime in.


Consistent with Section 207(a), FRA and Amtrak consulted with many stakeholders to develop the Metrics and Standards proposed in this NPRM.

Specifically, in August and September, 2019, FRA met separately with representatives of the following Class I railroads that host Amtrak trains:BNSF Railway, Canadian National Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway, CSX Transportation, Norfolk Southern Railway Company, and Union Pacific Railroad.

On September 5, 2019, FRA and Amtrak met with representatives of the Rail Passengers Association.

On September 10, 2019, FRA and Amtrak met with representatives of the Metro-North Railroad.

On September 12, 2019, FRA and Amtrak met with representatives of the Transport Workers Union.

On September 13, 2019, FRA and Amtrak met with Surface Transportation Board staff.

On September 18, 2019, FRA and Amtrak convened a meeting with members of the State-Amtrak Intercity Passenger Rail Committee, whose members include: Caltrans, Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority, Connecticut Department of Transportation (DOT), Illinois DOT, Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo Joint Powers Authority, Massachusetts DOT, Michigan DOT, Missouri DOT, New York State DOT, North Carolina DOT, Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, Oklahoma DOT, Oregon DOT, Pennsylvania DOT, San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority, Texas DOT, Vermont Agency of Transportation, Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, Washington State DOT, and Wisconsin DOT.

On September 20, 2019, Amtrak met separately with representatives of the Union Pacific Railroad.

On September 24, 2019, FRA and Amtrak met with representatives of the Vermont Railway.

On November 15, 2019, Amtrak met separately with representatives of the BNSF Railway.

On November 19, 2019, in two different meetings, FRA met separately with, first, representatives of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers, Transportation Division, and, second, with members of the Surface Transportation Board.

FRA and Amtrak also sought input from other potentially interested entities who did not express interest in consulting at that time.


This should eliminate the charge that Amtrak should get to dictate the metrics. It seems as if it is all-inclusive.

n compliance with Section 207 of PRIIA, FRA and Amtrak jointly developed the Metrics and Standards proposed in this NPRM, in consultation with the stakeholders described in subsection (C) above.

Mr. Anderson already introduced customer OTP vs Train OTP and this rule will make it a requirement.

III. Customer On-Time Performance
This NPRM proposes to measure the on-time performance (OTP) element of intercity passenger train performance using the customer OTP metric, defined as the percentage of all customers on an intercity passenger rail train who arrive at their detraining point within 15 minutes of their published scheduled arrival time, reported by train and by route. The customer OTP metric focuses on intercity passenger train performance as experienced by the customer. Customer OTP measures the on-time arrival of every intercity passenger customer, including those who detrain at intermediate stops along a route and those who ride the entire route.


It also seeks to address culpabilty when multiple hosts are involved.

FRA recognizes that the proposed customer OTP metric should be accompanied by metrics that provide additional useful information about a train's performance. There are factors that could contribute to poor OTP on a route that are not evident from measuring station arrival times alone. For example, an intercity passenger rail train dispatched by multiple hosts may experience delays on one host railroad but not on another host railroad. Since the customer OTP metric does not easily distinguish performance on individual host railroads (including Amtrak), this NPRM also proposes metrics to measure the degree of customer lateness and train delays to provide more information about the customer experience and train performance on an individual host railroad.


They will also take a long hard long at the actual schedules (which is something I've mentioned in the past) and allow them to be modified as conditions permit, with an eye towards station to station OTP versus Initial terminal and endpoint otp.

I'm not going to post that here since it is a huge part of the rule and would likely fill two posts. An example of the customer service OTP is listed.

As always, there is a comment period. It ends 6/1.
 

brianpmcdonnell17

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I was going to post this question in a new thread, but if OTP is already being discussed I'll ask it here.

Has there been any recent improvement in OTP? Looking anecdotally at the LD routes I have recently used and plan on using in the near future it seems like there has been. Before the stay at home orders started, I took a round-trip to the PNW on the EB. The trip back was early arriving into Chicago and while the outbound trip was a few hours late, that was due to severe weather and appeared to be an anomaly in looking at the surrounding days. On the other side of the country, I am planning a trip from Chicago to Tampa for later in the year (hopefully). Looking at the last few months, the CL to SS connection has a success rate of well over 90%. In the reverse direction, the 92 to 29 connection, which has never been reliable enough to be guaranteed as far as I am aware, has not missed once in the last month.
 

west point

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I suppose that we can look at the Crescent for OTP. #19 has had 2 arrivals in the last 2 weeks on time. That is from Jan 1st. However those 2 were late at Slidell, Ms. only the 30 - 40 minute padding allowed those 2 to be on time. Now in all fairness there were 6 additional in the last 2 weeks that were at NOL in less than an hour.
 

Thirdrail7

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You can definitely see the drop in delays. There are fewer trains running, which means less traffic. Additionally, the trains that are operating aren't carrying as many passengers, so they aren't sitting in the stations for long periods of time.
 

RebelRider

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You can definitely see the drop in delays. There are fewer trains running, which means less traffic. Additionally, the trains that are operating aren't carrying as many passengers, so they aren't sitting in the stations for long periods of time.
I'm definitely seeing a big uptick in one delay category - NOD - which is, ironically, No Delay. We're spending more time dwelling in stations waiting for scheduled departure time. It's a combination of improved dispatching and much shorter consists that get over the road a little quicker. Again, it's ironic we're spending more time at station stops now that we don't need the extra time to board hoards of people. It's usually the other way around.

Unfortunately, there are very few passengers around to experience our improved OTP these days. 😞
 

acelafan

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I am not great at reading the Federal Register, but it seems like the final rule for OTP has been established and goes into effect next month.

SUMMARY: This final rule establishes metrics and minimum standards for measuring the performance and service quality of intercity passenger train operations.
...
With respect to on-time performance and train delays, this final rule sets forth a customer on-time performance metric, defined as the percentage of all customers on an intercity passenger rail train who arrive at their detraining point no later than 15 minutes after their published scheduled arrival time, reported by train and by route.

This final rule establishes a customer on-time performance minimum standard of 80 percent for any 2 consecutive calendar quarters, and sets forth when the standard begins to apply.

In addition, this final rule includes the following related metrics: Ridership data, certified schedule, train delays, train delays per 10,000 train miles, station performance, and host running time.

DATES: This final rule is effective on December 16, 2020.
 

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John Bobinyec

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Wow! That goes on and on for pages and pages. I didn't see where it says anything about what happens if the OTP is violated.

jb
 

daybeers

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So does this define it as station to station instead of endpoint OTP? That would be amazing! I still think 15 minutes could be shorter because that is quite late, and 80% is not enough IMO.

Will this have immediate effect? I too am interested in seeing what happens when OTP is violated, but seems it would have to be for 6 months consecutively? That's a lot of time.
 

neroden

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Immediate effect, but it won't really have effect until it's actually been measured for some months.

The result of violating the OTP rules (bad OTP) is that it will be possible to go to the STB and complain about it. The STB will then have the power to order remedies. In practice, the mere threat will have an effect on the Class Is' behavior.
 
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