CN Disputes Blame For Poor Amtrak On-Time Performance
By Jim Meadows
Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) is blaming Canadian National for giving preference to its freight trains and causing delays that made Amtrak’s Illini and Saluki trains late 51 percent of the time, from October 2013 through this past July. But Canadian National spokesman Patrick Waldron says some delays are caused not by them, but by Amtrak.
“Those figures incorporate delays not attributable to, or involving, CN. Delays leaving the station, or delays as a result of Amtrak equipment problems, or even delays that result from the Amtrak train not getting to the CN route on time", said Waldron.
But Amtrak spokesman Marc Maglieri says delay reports from Amtrak conductors posted on their website show that Canadian National was responsible for most of the problems causing delays.
The two sides give differing numbers for on-time performance, using different parameters.
Waldron says that for problems falling under Canadian National's contractually obligated responsibility, the four Amtrak trains in question (the Saluki and Illini trains, both northbound and southbound, also known as routes 390, 391, 392 and 393) were on time from 61% to 84% of the time for the first ten months of the fiscal year beginning October 1st, 2013. And for the month of August to date, he says on-time performance ranged from 78% to 100%. Waldron says the harsh winter played a role in the lower on-time performance earlier in FY2014.
Amtrak delay reports filed by their conductors and posted on their website show the four Amtrak trains in question were on time from 31% to 55% of the time for the past 12 months, and from 38% to 74% for the month of July alone. These figures cover problems attributed to Amtrak, Canadian National and the Chicago Terminal. The figures give Canadian National the majority of the responsibility for the delays in all categories (Train Interferance, Tracks And Signals and Other) and for all four trains.
Amtrak is renewing its 2012 complaint over Canadian National delays with the federal Surface Transportation Board. Amtrak’s earlier complaint was put on hold while the two sides tried to negotiate a solution, but Maglieri says those talks went nowhere.