Friday, January 20, 2012

Amtrak files a claim against Canadian National

Amtrak has filed a petition with the Surface Transportation Board asking for intervention with CN dispatching and punitive damages sufficient to ensure that CN changes its ways.

According to Amtrak, Canadian National is the single worst railroad in the United States when it comes to following the law on prioritizing Amtrak trains. Given the data and incidents which Amtrak sets forth in its, I can't help but see CN getting slapped silly, and deservedly so. Two in particular struck as especially damning:

72. In July 2011, in response to a request from Amtrak for a schedule change that would have addressed issues on another host railroad on this route, CN asked Amtrak to make its Wolverine trip schedule longer to accommodate what CN unabashedly declared was the "increased likelihood of FTI." One of the route segments on which CN anticipated increased FTI delays was the segment between Pontiac and Vinewood, which has so little freight traffic that CN is currently planning to remove one of the two main tracks. This express request to incorporate CN's statutory preference violations into Amtrak's schedules is reflective of CN's approach to its statutory duties.
...
105. CN fails to communicate with other host railroads about the location of Amtrak passenger trains on multi-host-owned routes, and refuses to cooperate with other host railroads to minimize delays to Amtrak's passenger trains on those routes. This intransigence contributes to the high instances of delay that Amtrak's trains experience on CN's rail lines.

Should the STB uphold Amtrak's complaint and CN is actually forced to treat Amtrak appropriately, Chicago-termini trains should see a major increase in OTP and likely a reduction in scheduled times to reduce currently needed padding.

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