Effects of Amtrak's Poor On-Time Performance
March 28, 2008
Project ID: CR-2008-047
This report presents the results of our audit of the effects of Amtrak’s poor on–time performance (OTP). This audit was requested by the Surface Transportation Subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. The objective of this audit was to produce a quantitative assessment of the impact of Amtrak’s poor OTP on Amtrak’s finances. Achieving reliable OTP would substantially improve Amtrak’s finances. We estimate, for example, that an 85 percent OTP off the NEC in FY 2006 would have reduced Amtrak’s operating loss by 30 percent or $136.6 million. Amtrak’s revenues would increase by $111.4 million as more travelers would choose to take the train if they become more confident that it will arrive on time. Amtrak’s expenses would be reduced by $39.3 million mostly due to less required overtime as a result of fewer late trains, and lower fuel costs as a result of less time spent idling and less frequent accelerations and decelerations. The improved OTP also would require an increase in net performance payments paid to the host railroads of $14.1 million. Working with the host railroads to achieve an 85 percent OTP off the NEC would be a difficult task. However, Amtrak may be able to utilize a portion of the projected benefits to further incentivize the host railroads to provide this enhanced level of service.