New federal law should cut Amtrak delays

Monday, December 1, 2008 | 10:23 a.m. CST

KANSAS CITY — A new law is expected to improve the on-time record of Amtrak passenger trains nationwide, especially on the Kansas City-to-St. Louis run.

President Bush signed into law a bill giving federal authorities the power to investigate freight railroads when Amtrak's on-time record falls below 80 percent. Fines could be levied if freight lines fail to give preference to Amtrak.

State figures show that Amtrak trains were at least 30 minutes late almost one-third of the time in 2007-08. Late-running Amtrak trains have been blamed at least in part for declining ridership between Kansas City and St. Louis in recent years.

Freight traffic is supposed to give preference to Amtrak trains on tracks owned by the railroads. But a recent federal report found that some railroads' dispatching practices violate those rights.


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