Improving On-Time Performance for Long-Distance Passenger Trains Operating on Freight Routes

This paper discusses on-time performance (OTP) for long-distance passenger trains operating over tracks that are owned and operated by freight railroads. OTP is addressed primarily from the point of view of the host railroad. A brief literature review identifies practices that are commonly used by railroads and other modes to develop and implement achievable schedules. Analysis of travel time, train delay and other data for Amtrak trains operating on CSXT’s I95 Corridor documents actual levels of reliability and the primary causes of poor OTP. Comparison of performance for passenger trains and various classes of freight trains demonstrates that Amtrak trains operate much faster and more reliably than CSXT’s trains. Potential means of improving the OTP of Amtrak trains are discussed. While providing high quality track with sufficient capacity is the long-run solution for upgrading OTP, a short-run solution is to base schedules on past performance (“experience-based scheduling”). After Amtrak increased the schedule of the Auto Train by one hour in 2006, OTP improved from less than 10% in early 2006 to 82% for the first half of 2008. Analysis of the travel time distributions of the other long-distance Amtrak trains operating on CSXT’s I95 Corridor from 2004 to 2008 indicates that a similar schedule increase would also have brought these other trains close to Amtrak’s goal of 80% OTP. Schedules that reflect track maintenance requirements and other known seasonal and weekly factors would allow further improvements in measured OTP. Additional measures of performance concerning the probability and extent of late arrivals would be beneficial to travelers in planning their trips.

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Journal of the Transportation Research Forum, 47, 4
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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2020-10-28

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