The law underlying the regulation was passed in 2008 and the freight railroads have been fighting it tooth and nail ever since. The regulations took 12 years before getting finalized in December 2020 because the railroads fought it at every step. That is because it involves actual regulatory enforcement of Amtrak's statutory priority, which they have never before been subject to.So the freight railroads only won the right to dictate freight schedules for passenger trains? They must be ecstatic.
Guess that explains why tighter schedules are being chewed up and spat out.
You got that right. Sometimes I forget how many people hold freight hosts in higher esteem than Amtrak.
They took it to the Supreme Court twice. The first time they won, as the court found that Amtrak could not set the delay metrics itself. Congress modified the law and specified that the STB set the metrics. They took that all the way to the Supreme Court and lost.
They fought the metrics. The tried to get it so it was measured at endpoints only. They tried for specified, restricted points. In the introductory section of the final reg, the STB stated they found that the Congressional intent was to minimize the delay passengers experienced, not trains themselves. So the metric the STB adopted is basically any delay over 15 minutes of any passenger at their destination station counts. While the STB established the metric and not Amtrak as the first cut at law tried to do, it is pretty darned passenger focused.
If you think Amtrak ever "dictated" schedules to the freight railroads, you are out of your mind. Amtrak has always had to negotiate their schedules with their host railroads. But freight railroads could agree to almost any schedule that could plausibly be met, because they could ignore or override them as they pleased with very little threat consequence or sanction.
This regulation ends that. The schedules negotiated now are subject to enforcement action and penalty by the FRA and STB.
Finally, the "present administration" really has little to do with this. The 12 year fight over it ended in December 2020, prior to their taking office.
While you may sound coolly cynical, you are actually nihilistic. Amtrak finally has federal regulators with authority to enforce their statutory rights, which they have lacked since 1971. And you propose no realistic alternative, only complain that the enforceable schedule resulted in being lengthened. You prefer non enforceable schedules we've always had? That certainly has worked out well.
I allow for the possibility that the STB may not be diligent in enforcing it. We'll see how it works out, but Amtrak now can file complaints directly to the STB about how their trains are being handled at the hands of the freight railroads, and the STB has metrics established to measure the complaint in cold, hard numbers. I also find the fact that the freight railroads fought it hard for 12 years as indicative that they think it just may have some teeth they do not like.
I see this as an improvement over the long run. But complaining with no practical solution in mind is so cool.