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comment by Outlander
Outlander  ·  3148 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: How Washington Derailed Amtrak

I recently tried to take the Amtrack from Austin to Dallas, departing at 9:31am. At 9:29am, in the waiting area, I received an automated phone call telling me that my train would be late. I asked the young man at the ticket booth how long the delay would be and he said that our train would be pulling into the station at noon at the earliest.

How do trains get delayed over 2.5 hours? It doesn't make sense to me, there's no traffic on the tracks.

I was really excited to ride the train, but I ended up catching a ride with a friend who happened to be heading north that morning so I wouldn't be late. Hopefully I'll get a chance to ride in the future, but I'm not going to count on it being on time.

_refugee_  ·  3148 days ago  ·  link  ·  

There is some traffic on tracks, actually. Acela trains have priority over all other trains and therefore if an Acela and a different train, like a regular Amtrak, are both approaching, the Amtrak will have to slow down on the rails and stop until the Acela pulls in, releases & loads passengers, etc. I don't know if that excuses a full 2.5 hour long wait, and the fact that Amtrak is notoriously unreliable and often late makes me very angry, but I know this is one factor for why trains are delayed.

I have had to ride on trains quite a lot. I have seen them delayed to pull into stations quite frequently. I have also been on a train or two that had to stop on the rails and restart the engine because they were having technical issues. I suspect these are among the most common "delay factors" that we experience. Weather and car crashes, debris on the rails, etc, can all slow trains down. However I too struggle with the idea that these factors could conceivably delay a train for so long. I find Amtrak very frustrating, and I agree - I never count on the train being on time.

Outlander  ·  3148 days ago  ·  link  ·  

You would think that the routes would be scheduled so as to minimize these kinds of traffic delays to a matter of minutes. Amtrack doesn't share it's track with anyone else, does it? Technical issues are more understandable for long delays, but seem like they should be much less frequent.

Do you usually ride Amtrack, or is there another railway you use?

_refugee_  ·  3148 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Outlander - I suppose that we both should have read the whole article before speaking .Amtrak does not own its tracks:

    Outside of the Northeast Corridor, the tracks Amtrak uses are almost all owned by freight railroads. CSX, Union Pacific, and a handful of other behemoths naturally hog them, which contributes to Amtrak's chronic tardiness,
Outlander  ·  3147 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Yea, I was only about a quarter of the way through until my show buffered and I haven't gotten back to it yet.

Thanks for pointing that out though; it makes sense of some of the longer delays.

I'll give it a good read sometime tomorrow.

_refugee_  ·  3148 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Sure, you would certainly think so. Of course, neither of us are railroad executives (I assume), so while we may think that in an ideal world things would be done a certain way, (and while we might wisely agree and nod our heads and stroke our proverbial beards while doing so,) that doesn't have much bearing on what occurs in reality, which unfortunately neither of us have much insight into, at least from where I sit. The fact is that Amtrak trains do run late, Amtrak knows that, and apparently either can't or doesn't do much to fix it. I think the fact that they run on a deficit and depend on the government just to keep existing is probably a factor. Maybe Amtrak cannot afford certain upgrades that would allow them to run better.

I don't know if Amtrak shares its tracks or not. I kind of think that they might share their tracks with the local mass transit (Septa around here), but as I only and always ride Amtrak, I wouldn't be able to speak to that personally. I think I have been on Septa once in recent memory.

I don't know if there are any other options around here besides Amtrak and the local rail, which is Septa, and which doesn't go far enough to take me where I want to go, so yes, it's always Amtrak. I was on the Acela once or twice, usually I am on the regular trains.