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Rail News: Amtrak

Amtrak calls on STB to investigate freight-rail delays on Chicago-D.C. route


Amtrak yesterday asked the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to investigate Norfolk Southern Railway and CSX Transportation for what the national intercity passenger railroad alleges is freight-rail interference that's causing train delays on its Capitol Limited route between Chicago and Washington, D.C.

Amtrak filed the complaint under Section 213 of the federal Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act, which calls for the STB to initiate an investigation upon the filing of a complaint by Amtrak if the on-time performance (OTP) of an intercity passenger train falls below 80 percent for two consecutive quarters, according to an Amtrak press release.

Amtrak also has a federal statutory right to preference in the dispatching of intercity passenger trains before freight trains, Amtrak officials said.

"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 percent for the quarter ending Sept. 30, down from an already substandard 33.6 percent the previous quarter," Amtrak officials said in the release. "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 10 hours late."

The delays create a "major disruption for Amtrak passengers who miss connections," they added. The delays also impact Amtrak's state-supported services through lost ridership and revenue and higher operating costs, according to the railroad.

Amtrak also recently filed an amended complaint with the STB seeking an investigation of CN for causing "unacceptable delays" on the Illini/Saluki service in Illinois, and established a Blue Ribbon Panel of rail and transportation leaders to infrastructure and operational improvements to address rail traffic gridlock in Chicago.