High Performance

First Look: Amtrak/Alstom Acela II

On May 23, Railway Age Publisher Jon Chalon and Editor-in-Chief William C. Vantuono toured Amtrak’s new Alstom-built Acela II high-speed Northeast Corridor trainset at Philadelphia 30th Street Station. Three of the 28-unit order are on the property.

FRA reported on May 19 that more than 70,000 inspections were conducted in FY 2021 to assess railroad compliance with regulations and laws that govern track, motive power and equipment, operating practices, signal and train control, hazardous materials, grade crossing signal system safety, industrial hygiene, and safety management systems.

FRA Issues FY21 Safety Enforcement Report

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has released its annual enforcement report summarizing the regulatory compliance inspections and audits conducted in the past fiscal year by FRA or state inspectors participating in FRA’s rail safety program, as well as the civil penalty enforcement actions arising from them.

Threat Lurks to STB’s Independence

Once upon a time, conservative jurists were the best friends to federal regulatory agencies such as the Surface Transportation Board (STB). When those agencies pushed the boundaries of their decision-making independence, federal courts considered them experts in their field and accordingly deferred to their interpretations of the statutes they administered.

Why High-Speed Rail is Such a Heavy Lift

Railway Editor-in-Chief William C. Vantuono’s “From the Editor” about high-speed rail in America asking “Why is High-Speed Rail Such a Heavy Lift?” compelled me to put together some possible answers to the question. And to those I have added some other “fresh” ideas that people in the rail industry may not have seen in other places. First, some observations.

The FRA report found that Amtrak trains experienced approximately 1.3 million minutes of delay during first-quarter 2022, up 9% from the previous quarter. System-wide, first-quarter 2022 train-miles were up 8% from fourth-quarter 2021, coming in at 8,790,595 train-miles, as Amtrak continued to restore service following the pandemic. (Amtrak Photograph)

FRA Issues Amtrak OTP Report Card for 1Q22

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has released a report measuring the performance and service quality of Amtrak intercity passenger train operations for first-quarter 2022 (ending Dec. 31, 2021). Among the findings: the Auto Train, Capitol Limited and Sunset Limited were delayed most.

(Photo Courtesy of Amtrak OIG, Via Twitter)

OIG to Amtrak: Update (and Verify) Unified Operations Center Business Case

Amtrak’s plans to save costs and consolidate personnel/functions in a Delaware building it purchased for $41.1 million in May 2020 “have not materialized because it didn’t effectively verify the feasibility of its plan before it made the purchase,” according to a new report from the Amtrak Office of Inspector General (OIG).

“Like many companies in the transportation industry, VIA Rail continued to face the impacts of the various waves of the pandemic,” Chief Financial Officer Marie-Claude Cardin reported. “Nonetheless, as we have always done over the past two years, we found ways to strike a balance between our important public service mandate while proactively managing the financial impacts on our operations.” (VIA Rail)

VIA Rail Releases 2021 Annual Report

“Despite the upheaval caused by the pandemic, we have successfully pursued our strategic plan, including the unveiling of our new fleet and the advancement of the High Frequency Rail project,” VIA Rail Canada Board Chair Françoise Bertrand said upon release of the railroad’s 2021 Annual Report.

Leadership Defined

RAILWAY AGE, MAY 2022 ISSUE: Our third annual Readers’ Influential Leaders online poll garnered nominations for a large number of active (non-retired) people from all areas of the North American railway industry. A commitment to service, safety and sustainability is how our 2022 honorees—selected by our subscribers—approach their roles. We are pleased to present the top 10 nominees, plus five leaders receiving Honorable Mentions.