8.1.19

THANK YOU, HUNTER HARRISON?

On-time performances on the Illinois Central mini-corridor are not impressive.
[T]he City of New Orleans departed Champaign an average of 42 minutes late northbound but just 19 minutes late southbound.

But it was the opposite pattern for the state-funded Illini and Saluki.

The northbound Saluki left average of 24 minutes late northbound but 49 minutes late southbound.

The northbound Illini was, on average, 35 minutes late northbound and 37 minutes late southbound during 2018.

The News-Gazette report said many of the delays could be attributed to host railroad Canadian National. Amtrak contends CN is one of its worst host carrier with freight trains delaying Amtrak on 90 percent of the trips made on the route via Champaign.

Amtrak contends that CN contributes an average of 26 minutes of delay per day.

But some of the delays are also caused by longer than scheduled loading and unloading of passengers.
I wonder if Amtrak's conductors are holding things up by opening fewer doors and by checking tickets on the platform.

As far as Canadian National's contribution, well, there are people who look at the wide rights-of-way that used to carry two tracks and asking whether or not there is a way to add dedicated tracks.
Amtrak does have the authority to purchase right of way and build its own tracks, said Rick Harnish, who is the executive director of the Midwest High Speed Rail Association.

And there is plenty of space to add a set of tracks to replace that set that was removed by the Canadian National Railroad.
Usual story: there's no money for that sort of infrastructure.

But why did CNR remove the second track?  Answer: it wasn't CNR at all, it was Illinois Central, as part of controversial railroad executive E. Hunter Harrison's proof of concept for freight railroading, which involves identifying freight cars that are standing still, locomotives that aren't pulling their weight, and track that is lightly used, and removing it.  Thus, the second track from Chicago to Carbondale, the cab signalling good for 100 mph running, and maybe the sharp old-school dispatching had to go.

But performance on the freight side of Illinois Central looked good enough to investors that Mr Harrison got additional gigs at Canadian National, Canadian Pacific, and CSX.

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