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Amtrak's On-Time Performance

December 30, 2015

As part of their duty to uphold section 213 of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008, the Surface Transportation Board (STB) has invited public comment on two recent proposals. These proposals introduce revised definitions and policy guidance for passenger train on-time performance and preference over freight trains.

The proposal is a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that codifies on-time performance for Amtrak trains.  By law the STB may initiate an investigation or Amtrak may file a complaint against the frieght railroads if the average is below 80% for two consecutive quarters. The law does not specify how to measure on-time performance. The STB is proposing to formalize past practice of counting a train late if it arrives at its final destination five minutes after the scheduled arrival for every 100 miles traveled, or 30 minutes late for any route longer than 500 miles.

This definition of on-time performance falls short as it only takes into account the final destination. Amtrak often adds a half-hour cushion for longer routes and 15 minutes for shorter routes. That means a train can be significantly late at intermediate stations but be counted as on-time for the entire trip.

It is important that the STB include tracking on-time performance at intermediate stations in their new definition. This would provide a clearer picture of train delays and what needs to be done to provide more reliable service.

The second proposal is a Proposed Policy Statement (PPS) that seeks to define how to measure preference. Since 1973 railroads have been required to give Amtrak trains ‘preference’ over freight trains, however preference has never been properly defined.

With this action the STB is beginning the discussion on how to define preference. The public comment period concerning the NPRM will conclude on Feb. 8 and the PPS comment period will end on Feb. 22. Click here to learn more


Dylan Hayward
Manager of Communications

Last Week at MHSRA:

We were shocked by Forbes headline and use of a steam train in this article about an important Russian development.

China’s Silk Road Gets Russian High Speed Choo-Choo Train
“The cost of the new 700 kilometer Moscow-Kazan rail line is estimated
to be $21.4 billion, including rail and locomotives. The company said
the train will be designed to travel at speeds of up to 250 miles per
hour. The fastest train in the U.S., Amtrak’s Acela service, has a
maximum cruising speed of 150 miles per hour."

We would also like to share a message from one of our newest board members about what MHSRA means to him.

Articles We Enjoyed:

STB Seeks PRIIA Section 213 Revisions
The U.S. Surface Transportation Board on Dec. 28, 2015 issued two interrelated decisions. The STB is seeking public comment on the proposals, both of which would affect Section 213 of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 (PRIIA)

How Japan’s Bullet Train is Taking Over the World
"Although high-speed rail has flourished in countries like Japan, China, Germany, and France for decades, the transportation innovation is gaining more ground recently. Both developing nations and advanced economies like the US are now aggressively pursuing the technology. Japan’s pushing hard to be the number-one high-speed rail supplier."

APT Tilting Train: The Laughing Stock that Changed the World
"It's 30 years since the Advanced Passenger Train carried its last passengers. In its short life it attracted scorn and mockery, but did the APT actually revolutionise the world of travel?"

SpeedInnov to Develop Future TGV
"FRANCE: The ministries responsible for transport, research and industry announced on December 17 the creation of SpeedInnov, a joint venture that is to develop ‘the TGV of the future’."

Upcoming Events:

Japan High-Speed Rail Tour

We are planning the tour for October of 2016. 

This trip will give everyone an opportunity to enjoy the rich history of train travel the country offers. We are creating an itinerary that includes riding the first high-speed rail line, visiting at least one railroad museum and meetings with experts in the field. We have already begun making contacts to arrange technical visits and train tours. Once we have received 10 fully-refundable deposits we will finalize the details of the trip.

Please click here if you would like to learn more or are interested in joining the trip.

Please click here if you are ready to make a $500 fully-refundable deposit for the trip.

Dylan Hayward
Midwest High Speed Rail Association
4765 N. Lincoln Ave.
Chicago, IL 60625