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Rail News: Amtrak

OIG: Amtrak could save millions by improving on-time performance

Amtrak officials said they agreed with OIG's findings and recommendation related to on-time performance.
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Improving Amtrak's on-time performance (OTP) by 5 percentage points on all routes would result in $12.1 million in financial benefits to the railroad in just one year, Amtrak's Office of Inspector General (OIG) reported this week.

The benefits would include $8.2 million in reduced costs and $3.9 million in increased revenue, OIG officials said in a press release.

"In the longer term, if OTP on long-distance routes could improve to 75 percent and be sustained at that level for at least a year, the company could realize an estimated $41.9 million per year in cost savings, and a one-time savings of $336 million by reducing equipment replacement needs," the OIG reported.

Additionally, Amtrak doesn't fully and systematically measure the impact of poor OTP, resulting in limited data to use to determine consequences, the office determined.

The OIG recommended Amtrak update its methods of measuring OTP so that it can more reliably determine the financial impact that late trains have on the railroad.

In a response, Amtrak officials said they agreed with OIG's findings and recommendation. Poor OTP is primarily driven by delays caused by host railroads that own most of the rail lines used by Amtrak trains, railroad officials said.

The OIG's findings were in addition to savings that the U.S. Department of Transportation's OIG found were possible if Amtrak improved OTP.

In addition to highlighting the financial impact of late trains, the two OIG reports "confirm late trains impact every aspect of our operations, from equipment usage and staffing, to trip-time competitiveness and reliability for our customers," said Dennis Newman, Amtrak executive vice president of strategy and planning, in a prepared statement.

"Extrapolating the results over a five-year period, there is more than $1 billion denied to our state and federal investors because Amtrak customers are not getting the reliable service they deserve and are lawfully entitled to receive," Newman added.

Meanwhile, Amtrak released its annual report card that grades each of the six Class I host railroads based on delays caused to Amtrak trains over the past year. For 2018, Amtrak gave the Class Is' a "C" average based on the "passenger experience" of late trains and on-time arrivals.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/18/2019