Rail Passengers Asked to Wait.

It’s a damn sorry state of affairs when Congress has to pass a law to be sure that an existing law is enforced. 

The law not being enforced is the 1971 legislation that created Amtrak and specifically stated that Amtrak trains could, in exchange for fair compensation, run their passenger trains on track owned by the private railroads.

I know we’ve plowed this ground before, but what angers me is how these two public companies—CSX and Norfolk Southern—can get away with simply ignoring a law they don’t like for 50 years.

Of course the law I’m referring to is the 1971 statute that created Amtrak and which specified that Amtrak trains would pay the freight railroads fair compensation for the use of their tracks and, in exchange, the freight railroads would give Amtrak trains preference.

Well, here are the On-Time performance numbers for Amtrak trains operating on track owned by the private railroads in the Spring of 2021:

Auto Train 31%

Crescent 33%

California Zephyr 42%

Empire Builder 43%

Capitol Limited 34%

Southwest Chief 27%

Silver Meteor 25%        

Silver Star 18%

Sunset Limited 21%

The overwhelming cause for these terrible numbers is “freight train interference.”

Imagine the expenses incurred and the inconvenience suffered by the hundreds of thousands of tax-paying, law-abiding American citizens who find themselves deposited on a railroad staton platform hours late . . . and all because the freight railroads refuse to live up to an agreement which they desperately wanted fifty years ago.

Let us all hope the Congress can gather itself sufficiently to send a clear message to the freight railroads: start running Amtrak trains on time

The overwhelming cause for these terrible numbers is “freight train interference.”

How much longer are we going to put up with this?