July 6, 2024 - TRA Newswire -

Compared to the same period in 2023, the three Amtrak intercity passenger rail services that operate in Texas showed an improvement in on-time performance (OTP) for the first six months of this year.

Statistics released by the Federal Railroad Administration for the first and second quarter of 2024 showed gains in trains arriving on time at Texas stations, with some work still to be done to reach a benchmark 80% or better on-time reliability.

  • Heartland Flyer 78% OTP 
  • Texas Eagle 74% OTP
  • Sunset Limited 62% OTP

The Texas Eagle, which runs from Chicago to San Antonio through Central, North and Northeast Texas, arrived on time 74 percent for the second quarter of 2024, compared to 63% in the same period last year, and after a low of 50% on-time in the October-December 2023 period. 

The tri-weekly Sunset Limited, which serves cities along the Texas I-10 travel corridor from Los Angeles to New Orleans came in with a 62% on-time score for April-June of this year, compared with 42% in the same period in 2023 and after an on-time low of 31% during October-December of 2023. 

The daily Heartland Flyer that runs from Fort Worth to Oklahoma City shot up to a 78% on-time average in April-June this year compared to a paltry 37% in the same calendar period in 2023. The flyer is a partnered state service of the Oklahoma and Texas Department of Transportation and generally receives one of the highest customer service index scores of any train in the country.

in the latest reporting period the Heartland Flyer scored an 84% favorable rating from riders. The Sunset Limited came in at 77% and the Texas Eagle at 72%. The Texas Eagle had higher customer satisfaction ratings until Amtrak's former President Richard Anderson removed amenities including freshly prepared meals in the dining car and a sightseer lounge car, which are two features found on most all other national network trains. Both are yet to be restored on the Texas Eagle.

The FRA also tracks the reasons for late running intercity trains. The top ranking reasons for late trains include "slow orders", which means sections of host railroad track that Amtrak operates on are posted for speeds below what is normally prescribed. "Freight train interference" is another significant reason and that results in passenger trains being held for freight train movements on congested single track lines. Weather related issues and Amtrak-initiated equipment problems are other factors as well.