Amtrak’s had something of a problem with on-time service lately. Well what else do you expect with Amtrak? Yeah, we get it that delays happen on trains – just like they do on planes and in cars – but it doesn’t mean we should accept it. So Amtrak has taken issue with its Chicago-Cabondale service, a “309-mile route, which carried more than 340,000 passengers last year.”
The problem? The route’s on-time arrival performance in the second quarter of this year was only 57.7 percent, “after falling to 41.6 percent in the wintry first quarter.” Amtrak’s course of action? To ask “federal rail regulators to investigate whether Canadian National freight trains” are causing some significant portion of these delays.
Federal law dictates that passenger service has the right of way over freight trains, which is why Amtrak has a beef with CN. Amtrak claims that there have been “several instances when passenger trains were sidetracked to accommodate freight trains.” Senator Dick Durbin stepped in earlier to try to convince CN to make some room for Amtrak, which CN ignored, and so now – boom! – it’s a federal issue. We’re sure that’ll be fun.
In other Amtrak news, it apparently took the flooding of over-100-year-old tunnels for there to be a “wake-up call” that, maybe, new tunnels were needed. We’re talking about Hurricane Sandy and the rail tunnels, now 104 years-old, connecting New Jersey and New York City. So those tunnels were completely flooded, causing “damage to the overhead wires and electrical systems that power trains, as well as the tunnels’ concrete bench walls. It also accelerated the failure of tunnel drainage systems.”
Cancelling the ARC tunnel project sure turned out to be a great idea – we’re positive that rebuilding two old tunnels, plus building two new tunnels (and after post-recession interest rates rise), will end up being much cheaper. The existing tunnels, which were recently given about 20 years before they’d need to be closed, would “require closing the old tubes for a year for a complete rebuilding.”
So we guess they’re getting on that? Who knows. All that we know is that two very significant, 104 year-old tunnels that were flooded out a couple years ago are due for complete rebuilding or else won’t be operable in 20 years.
So, on that note, have a great weekend!