FRA Proposes Rule to Measure Performance and Quality of Intercity Passenger Trains

Secaucus Junction
An Amtrak train passes through Secaucus Junction in Secaucus, N.J., in February 2016. (Photo by Todd DeFeo/The DeFeo Groupe)

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is proposing a rule to measure the performance and service quality of intercity passenger train operations.

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) would define Amtrak intercity passenger train on-time performance and would set forth – on average – a minimum on-time performance standard of 80 percent.

“Eighty percent is a minimum standard,” FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory said in a news release. “We expect many routes will be much more reliable. Clarity should help all parties ensure compliance.”

The proposed performance and service quality metrics would give customers, Amtrak, its service providers, FRA and others a tool to gauge intercity passenger train travel objectively.

“After extensive stakeholder consultation, FRA is proposing new metrics to promote transparency for railroads and travelers alike,” Batory said. “We expect that all parties are interested in achieving higher performance.”

As part of this effort, FRA and Amtrak officials said they consulted with stakeholders, including representatives from the Class I railroads that host Amtrak trains, states, Amtrak employee labor organizations, an advocacy group representing Amtrak passengers and the Surface Transportation Board (STB).

This rule proposes additional measurements for evaluating how well Amtrak serves the public, including financial performance and customer service metrics.