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Rail News: Amtrak

Amtrak: Host railroads earn 'C' average for on-time performance


Canadian Pacific was the only Class I to receive an "A" for hosting Amtrak trains on freight-rail tracks, according to Amtrak's latest "Host Report Card."

Released last week, the card reports grades the six Class Is that host Amtrak trains based on how much the Class Is delay passenger trains. CP's "A" grade means that most Amtrak passengers traveling on CP tracks arrive on time at their destination, according to an Amtrak spokeswoman.

The report card shows that the average grade received by railroads is a "C," which means most passengers riding on host railroad tracks across Amtrak's network are being delayed.

Amtrak's report card gives a "B" to BNSF Railway Co.; a "B-" to CSX and Union Pacific Railroad; a "D-" to CN; and an "F" to Norfolk Southern Railway.

According to Amtrak's report card, the grades "reflect the passenger experience." An "A" grade means most passengers arrive on time; "B," passengers on some routes are late; "C," many passengers are very late; "D," most passengers are very late; and "F," the majority of passengers are severely late.

Amtrak owns and maintains most of the tracks in the Northeast Corridor, while most of the other tracks on which Amtrak trains operate are owned by freight railroads, which make dispatching decisions about the trains that have priority on their rail lines.

According to Amtrak, the freight railroads are the "single largest cause of delays to Amtrak customers." In 2018, Amtrak trains were delayed 1.2 million minutes by freight trains, Amtrak's spokeswoman said in an email.

Amtrak officials hold the view that federal law requires host railroads to provide Amtrak trains preference over freight. Most of the host railroads routinely disregard the law, according to Amtrak.

For the past several years, Amtrak and the host freight railroads have disagreed in court over the law.