Amtrak OIG report identifies eight major challenges faced by the railroad

Written by Mischa Wanek-Libman, editor
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The Acela Express travels over the Bush River rail bridge in Maryland.
Amtrak

The Amtrak Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a report of Sept. 28 identifying eight major management and performance challenges it sees the railroad having to face in fiscal years 2019 and 2020.

While the report gives Amtrak credit for operating more like a business and focusing on the experience of customers, it names improving the railroad’s safety culture as the chief concern. The report cites a series of incidents that have left 20 people dead since October 2012, as well as the National Transportation Safety Board’s assessment that the company has a weak safety culture. The report recognizes steps that have been taken to improve safety including implementing a safety management system, appointing a chief safety officer and continued progress toward full implementation of Positive Train Control.

“These steps have yielded some results, including a recent reduction in major operating rules violations. However, the company has much more work to do to achieve a safety culture and record that is consistent with the Board of Directors’ resolution that the company operate as the safest passenger railroad in the country,” noted the report.

The full list of challenges identified include:

  • Safety and Security: Addressing Significant Risks to Employees and Passengers
  • Governance: Institutionalizing More Effective Management Processes and Tools • Financial Performance: Securing the Company’s Financial Future
  • Asset Management: Ensuring Capacity, Coordination, and Effective Planning for Major Asset Upgrades
  • Customer Service: Putting Customers First
  • Acquisition and Procurement: Strengthening Procurement Processes
  • Information Technology: Effectively Delivering on Technology Projects While Minimizing Cyber-Security Risks
  • Human Resources: Strategically Managing the Workforce

Amtrak OIG explained that in deciding whether to identify an issue as a top management and performance challenge, it considered its significance in relation to Amtrak’s mission and strategic goals; its susceptibility to fraud, waste, and abuse; whether the underlying causes are systemic in nature and the railroad’s progress in addressing the challenge.

“We discussed the challenges we identified with company executives and senior managers to obtain their insights and reviewed industry, government and legal documents to gain additional perspectives. We also solicited and considered comments from company executives in finalizing this report,” a summary of the report said.

The full report can be read on the Amtrak OIG website.

Categories: C&S, Intercity, Safety/Training
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