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Rail News: Amtrak
Amtrak grades host freight railroads' performance
Amtrak has begun posting a quarterly "report card" that rates how long its trains are delayed while traveling on host freight railroads' tracks.
The majority of Amtrak's network operates on track owned, maintained and dispatched by freight railroads. Amtrak delays on host railroads are caused primarily by freight railroads that require passenger trains to wait so that freight trains can operate first, Amtrak officials said in the report card.
Federal law requires that Amtrak passenger trains must be given preference over freight trains using any rail line. There are only a few exceptions to that rule, according to Amtrak.
Amtrak's first Host Railroad Report Card gives letter grades to six Class Is based on delays per 10,000 train miles. Specifically, that is defined as the number of minutes of host-responsible delay, divided by the number of Amtrak train miles operated over that host, times 10,000.
The first report card covers January through December 2017. Amtrak gave Canadian Pacific a grade of A for performance, BNSF Railway Co. a B+, Union Pacific Railroad a B-, CSX a C, and Norfolk Southern Railway and CN an F.
Following are some Amtrak comments regarding hosts' performance on sample routes:
• 97 percent of passengers on Amtrak's Chicago-Milwaukee Hiawatha service, which operates on CP track, arrived at their destinations on time. Ninety percent of trips experienced no freight train interference.
• 90 percent of passengers on Amtrak's Carl Sandberg/Illinois Zephyr service arrived at their destinations on time with less than 4 minutes of delay by BNSF freight trains.
• More than 57 percent of passengers arrived late at their destinations on the Coast Starlight service, which operates on UP track. On an average trip on this route, passengers experienced 4 separate instances of delay caused by UP freight trains, accounting for 48 minutes of delay on average.
• 50 percent of passengers traveling on the Amtrak Cardinal service on CSX track arrived late at their destinations by an average of 1 hour and 27 minutes. On 85 percent of trips, the Cardinal's 350 passengers are delayed by CSX freight trains.
• Over 67 percent of passengers arrived late at their destinations while traveling on Amtrak's Crescent service, which operates on NS track. The typical Amtrak train, carrying 350 passengers, is delayed over 1 hour and 40 minutes due to NS freight trains. Many Amtrak trains wait as long as 3 hours and 12 minutes for NS freight trains using this track.
• Over 200,000 passengers arrived late at their destinations on the Illini/Saluki service, which operates on CN track. Amtrak trains were delayed by CN freight trains on nearly 90 percent of trips on this service.
To read the Amtrak report card, click on this link.
Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.