LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Amtrak officials say freight railroads are to blame for the company’s decline in on-time trains in Indiana.
Only one in three Indianapolis-bound Amtrak trains arrived on time in June, the Journal and Courier reported . In comparison, Chicago-bound trains were on time nearly 90 percent of the time in June.
Combining those numbers brings the on-time rate down to almost 62 percent, a decline for a line that’s had on-time rates of around 80 percent.
The tracks that go into Chicago are owned by freight railroads. Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said almost all the delays have been caused because of freight-train interference and dispatching decisions that prioritize freight trains over Amtrak trains.
“We made it clear to them that we’d like June to be an outlier performance,” he said.
The company has recently made improvements to the trains by introducing business class, food and beverage services, free Wi-Fi and the ability to make reservations for carry-on items. It has also partnered with ride-sharing service Lyft.
Magliari said the improvements help elevate the train service, but that it’s still not where it needs to be.
The state Department of Transportation is working with an engineering firm to solve the line’s issues. It’s looking into ways to shorten the travel time, such as rerouting the trains over different freight lines.
The Hoosier State train runs between Indianapolis and Chicago four days a week. It stops in Crawfordsville, Lafayette, Rensselaer and Dyer. Amtrak’s Cardinal train runs between New York and Chicago and stops in Indiana the other three days of the week.
The trains’ July performance numbers will be released later this month.
Information from: Journal and Courier, http://www.jconline.com