Train delays: what to do?

Frustrated Amtrak passengers wait at the Cleveland station for 5 hours on Sept. 29, 2014 for freight railroad CSX to give train #49 the all-clear. Norfolk Southern delivered this train to CSX 3.5 hours late, so it left Cleveland 8.5 hours down. On this day, all four Amtrak trains across Northern Ohio were delayed 6+ hours -- sadly a common occurrence in recent months. Read below how All Aboard Ohio is taking action and how you can help!

Frustrated Amtrak passengers wait at Cleveland’a station for 5 hours on Sept. 29, 2014 for freight railroad CSX to give train #49 the all-clear. Norfolk Southern delivered this train to CSX 3.5 hours late, so it left Cleveland 8.5 hours down. That day, all 4 Amtrak trains across Northern Ohio were delayed 6+ hours — sadly a common occurrence in recent months. Read below how All Aboard Ohio is taking action and how you can help! (Ken Sislak photo)

Was your Amtrak train delayed today by freight? Was your Amtrak train stopped while freight trains rolled by? Or did you hear from the conductor if a signal problem or track work was to blame? If so, that’s still the freight railroad’s responsibility as they own, maintain and manage the tracks/signals for nearly all of America’s Amtrak trains, including those that pass through Ohio.

If so, it is VERY IMPORTANT that you submit a complaint e-mail to the federal Surface Transportation Board at STBHelp@stb.dot.gov, including:

  • your train’s number (it’s on your ticket/reservation confirmation);
  • the approximate time(s) and location(s) of the delay(s);
  • the date(s) of the incident(s); and
  • why you believe the delay was caused by the freight railroad.

Please also copy your e-mail to your Senators and Representative in Congress, too! Freight railroads are required by federal law to give Amtrak trains priority over freight trains.

All Aboard Ohio is taking action! We are supporting legal action against the freight railroads and we are asking the Ohio Department of Transportation to release funds to address infrastructure improvements to ease rail traffic congestion. READ MORE HERE and read the latest NARP Hotline blog.

What is causing these horrific Amtrak delays?

  1. Heavy and worsening rail traffic volumes — passenger ridership is at the highest since the 1960s, intermodal freight (containers, trailers) traffic is at record highs, oil shipments are at record highs, and shipments from a record harvest will make delays even worse. If misery loves company, freight shipments are also being delayed causing complaints by shippers;
  2. Norfolk Southern dispatching software was installed in January at its Dearborn, MI traffic control center which oversees NS’s busy (up to 90 trains a day) Chicago Line west of Cleveland. The “self-learning” software needs a lot of debugging — so much so that NS crews are calling the software “Hal” in reference to the malevolent computer in “2001: A Space Odyssey”;
  3. Inadequate capacity of rail infrastructure, including the design of Northern Ohio passenger train stations which force Amtrak trains to process passengers from only one track of the two-track Chicago Line. The result is that half of Ohio’s four nightly Amtrak trains must run against the flow of traffic and thus “slalom” from one track to the other to stop next to station platforms.

Your voice counts!! Please share with All Aboard Ohio any responses you receive from the Surface Transportation Board, your Senators or Congressperson by e-mailing us HERE. Thank you!

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