Are Trains Getting Worse? Sadly, Yes They Are
April 18, 2022
By Jim Mathews / President & CEO
No, you’re not imagining it. Amtrak’s on-time performance system-wide continues to underwhelm, and the top causes remain freight-train interference and slow orders.
But March saw performance slip on several routes from February’s already low levels. The Auto Train had a dismal March, tumbling from 61 percent Customer on-time-performance (OTP) to just 21 percent. Three routes slipped into the teens – the Capitol (19.9 percent), the Silver Star (16.9 percent), and the Sunset Limited (17.8 percent).
The long-suffering Texas Eagle, which managed 62.3 percent Customer OTP in February, fell to 52.5 percent in March, a few points below its 12-month average. Eagle riders have had to endure many other indignities, from dining-car cutbacks to grimy windows and everything in-between.
Systemwide, of course, we also continue to field queries about problems with the reservations system, with reaching the Amtrak call centers, and pointed questions about when Amtrak is finally going to be able to keep its promise to restore the routes cut to five-times weekly service.
Rail Passengers is tracking all of this closely and collating the complaints and reports. We remain in close contact with Amtrak, and have also been asked by key congressional offices to keep an eye on these issues as well. Sean and I have already had several meetings on these topics to ensure that restoring service remains top of mind for everyone, and we’ll continue to do so until these issues are resolved. But just know that these problems are catching a lot of attention, and we’re doing what we can behind the scenes to press for answers.
"I’m so proud that we came together in bipartisan fashion in the Senate to keep the Southwest Chief chugging along, and I’m grateful for this recognition from the Rail Passengers Association. This victory is a testament to what we can accomplish when we reach across the aisle and work together to advance our common interests."
Senator Tom Udall (D-NM)
April 2, 2019, on receiving the Association's Golden Spike Award for his work to protect the Southwest Chief