Amtrak's Vermonter was 100% on time in March of 2012!! Given murphy's law, that's pretty amazing! The Ethan Allen did well too, at 85.5% on-time. Averaged together, Amtrak trains in Vermont were 92.7% on-time. The 12 month average for the Vermonter is 95.6%, which is pretty darn good.
This is big. Worth a celebration! (Worth a ride!)
On-time performance tops everything. We'd like a faster train. We'd like more frequent trains. We'd like trains to Montreal and up the Western Corridor to Burlington. But The only thing worse than a slow train is a late train! We'd rather get there on the advertised.
This is not just me talking. When the New England Central Railroad improved dispatching and track and the Vermonter started running on-time ridership started climbing and climbing and was up 30% over three years. Now that the Vermont Rail System has improved the track of the Ethan Allen, ridership on that train has started climbing as well (up 9.9% in March). (In Vermont as in most of the country, Amtrak operates as a tennent over railroads that are maintained and dispatched by freight railroads).
This achievement did not happen by accident. It reflects the recent investment in track on both routes -- and the commitment of both of Vermont's freight railroads, the Agency of Transportation and Amtrak. And thank you to the conductors and engineers who keep everything moving on-time every day!
The Vermonter is benefiting from the track work funded by stimulus funds. Seventy five percent of the project in Vermont was done last summer; work on finishing the rest is now underway. When it's done, and after a visit from the track geometry car (measuring to make sure everything is aligned), then the speeds in Vermont will be increased in time for the fall timetable change which will see 27 minutes removed from the schedule within Vermont.
Looking through the Amtrak Status Maps archive, it's actually reasonably accurate even with the potential for misleading; at 611 route-miles it's only considered late if it is 30 minutes or more past the scheduled arrival time rather than 10 minutes for most corridor trains, such as the Surfliner. 55/57 were always on time and averaged 2 minutes early, often eight minutes early (due to padding at the end). Latest arrival in Washington, D.C. was on March 29, 7 minutes late. 56/54 had three days exceeding 10 minutes, March 10th, 14th, and 24th for 17, 20, and 12 minutes respectively. However, thanks to the 12 minute padding it was, on average, 2.5 minutes early. All-point OTP was reasonably good as well, though I'm certainly not going to calculate that.
Amtrak's actually seen a substantial improvement in on-time performance lately, though this may be due to the rather mild winter not posing much of a problem for routes vulnerable to weather disruptions. This could, however, pose issues for Amtrak's retention of contract in the future on routes where it has not been improving and has, in fact, been declining.