Greenwire: ELPC’s Karen Torrent Applauds Surface Transportation Board’s Reversal of Proposed Amtrak “On Time” Definitions

Referee of Amtrak-freight fight reverses ‘on time’ definition
By Ariel Wittenberg

July 28, 2016

The federal government will not have two different definitions for whether Amtrak trains are running “on time,” thanks to a decision today from the Surface Transportation Board.

The STB had public transportation advocates scratching their heads this winter when the small independent agency proposed a different definition for “on time” from what was being used by the Federal Railroad Administration (Greenwire, March 2).

Under the FRA standard, an Amtrak train would be considered on time if it arrived at all stops on the line within 15 minutes of its scheduled arrival time. By contrast, the STB in March proposed only measuring whether a train arrived promptly at the final stop, overlooking any delays at stations along the way.

Today, the STB announced it will use the same definition as the FRA.

The board’s definition of timeliness will affect its adjudication of disputes between Amtrak and freight companies that own the railways used by passenger lines. Amtrak has filed claims with the STB that freight railroads have caused chronic delays on some lines, and the STB definition of on-time performance will be used to determine whether freight railroads should pay damages.

The STB also backed away from a previously proposed policy statement that would have required Amtrak to prove a freight carrier’s disregard for preference is systemic, purposeful and avoidable.

“Reflecting careful consideration of an extensive public and stakeholder response to our most recent passenger rail proposals, these decisions will better position the Board to implement its responsibilities under the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008,” board Chairman Daniel Elliott said in a statement. “Improved passenger train on-time performance is an important goal, and the Board’s decisions will support that goal by clarifying the trigger for starting a proceeding, while allowing more complex and detailed issues to be resolved in the context of individual cases.”

Public transportation advocates who had accused the STB of both government overreach and bias toward the freight industry this winter celebrated the decision today.

“These two decisions are a major victory for the 84,600 passengers that ride more 300 trains a day,” Environmental Law and Policy Center Federal Legislative Director Karen Torrent wrote in an email.


Milwaukee Business Journal: Study to consider adding more round-trips on Amtrak Hiawatha line

The state this summer could hold hearings on the proposal to add three more round-trips a day to the Hiawatha passenger rail line between Milwaukee and Chicago.

The rail service run by Amtrak currently has seven round trips each weekday, and has seen strong ridership. It logged 804,861 rides in 2014, an 8.5 percent increase over 2009. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is preparing a study of increasing the number of daily trips to 10, said Arun Rao, Wisconsin DOT passenger rail manager.

A draft of the study could be made public this summer, prompting public hearings in late summer and potential federal sign-off later this year, Rao said. If federal officials approve that plan, the state will become eligible to apply for federal money for the additional routes, which likely would be operated by Amtrak.

ELPC’s Howard Learner Discusses Amtrak Blue Ribbon Panel, Solving Rail Gridlock in Chicago with Railway Technology

Blighted with severe bottlenecks across its freight and passenger railway lines, Chicago has been dubbed “America’s rail traffic speed bump”. After an Amtrak investigation revealed that the city’s congestion problem could cause up to $799bn yearly losses to the US economy, what are the new solutions that could solve Chicago’s problem once and for all?

Located at the crossroads of four major Eastern and Western railroads, Chicago is the hub of the United States’ passenger and freight rail networks. Carrying a third of all rail freight traffic in the US valued at over $1tn, the city is the most important freight rail hub in North America. Chicago also holds the second largest commuter rail ridership of any US city, representing 11% of total ridership. As such, almost every major North American industry is dependent on the smooth running of Chicago’s rail operations.

But despite its national importance, Chicago has earned its nickname of “America’s rail traffic speed bump” after its services were blighted by severe, debilitating gridlocks and delays.

Although delays reached a critical point in winter 2014, the gridlock began much earlier and is still present today. Between 2013 and 2014, six of the eight worst performing long-distance passenger routes originated and terminated in Chicago. The situation only worsened during the current fiscal year, when Chicago was the source and end point of seven of the country’s worst performing trains.

As a result, on 24 October 2014 president of US passenger service operator Amtrak, Joseph Boardman, set up the Chicago Gateway Blue Ribbon Panel, a board of rail experts, attorneys, professors and former mayors tasked with identifying the critical infrastructure and operational improvements Chicago needs to relieve its rail congestion.

The panel’s findings, published on 1 October 2015, revealed that if left unchecked, Chicago’s rail gridlock will end up costing the US economy almost $800bn each year, due to its effects on six key industries constituting 85% of US domestic product: agriculture, natural resources, automotive, manufacturing, retail and services.

“The congestion challenge in Chicago poses the largest potential economic vulnerability to the US economy of all the major rail hubs in the United States”, the panel concluded, urging immediate action in order to avoid “the next Chicago rail crisis”.

Chicago’s rail traffic problem has not been an ignored topic. Over the past 15 years, authorities have made efforts to address the issue, the most important of which is a yet unfinished $4bn investment programme called Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE).

Established in 2003, CREATE encompasses 70 different freight and passenger projects looking at improving rail line capacity. So far, only 29 of these projects have been completed or are currently under construction, at a cost of $1.2bn, while the rest have been stalled due to lack of funding.

With Chicago’s volume of rail freight projected to increase by 62% before 2040, Amtrak’s report lists seven key recommendations, from top-priority infrastructure investments to improved operating practices, which aim to tackle Chicago’s congestion once and for all.

Infrastructural developments: tackling Chicago’s biggest chokepoint

“Because of the centrality of Chicago to the national railroad system in the US, the importance of alleviating congestion and increase fluidity has national economic implications,” says Howard Learner, Chicago attorney and member of the Blue Ribbon Panel.

“The CREATE programme received input and support by a wide range of democratic and republic politicians, policy makers across the board, transportation companies, labour unions, planners, environmental groups and others. One of the things the panel did here was prioritise two of the infrastructure improvements that have been highlighted in the CREATE programme.”
The first top priority project highlighted in the report is the 75th Street Corridor, located south of the city, identified as “Chicago’s biggest chokepoint”.

On a daily basis, 90 freight trains and 30 commuter trains have to squeeze through the same crisscross of tracks on a two-mile radius, forming long waiting queues around three major chokepoints. The Panel thus identified four separate CREATE projects which should be prioritised in order to alleviate this severe congestion.

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ELPC 2015: What We’ve Achieved, and What’s Next

This is a transformational year for the environment. ELPC is seizing strategic opportunities for progress on the big issues. We’re achieving strong results in these politically gridlocked times.

First, the EPA’s Clean Power Plan caps two decades of sustained advocacy by ELPC and many environmental and public health colleagues backed by sound scientific findings. The U.S. is now stepping up as a global leader advancing clean energy solutions to reduce carbon pollution.

Second, solar energy, wind power and innovative energy efficiency technologies are poised to transform the electricity market just as wireless transformed telecommunications, changing the ways that we live and work. ELPC is driving new policies to accelerate distributed Midwest solar energy installations and install one million new smart thermostats in Illinois.

Third, ELPC’s successful litigation to stop the fiscal folly Illiana Tollway, protect the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie and promote sound regional planning is transforming transportation policy to prioritize public transit and modern regional rail instead of politically clouted boondoggles. ELPC attorneys are winning in both the court of law and the court of public opinion.

ELPC is effective. Our teams of expert public interest attorneys, M.B.A.s, policy advocates and communications specialists, combined with the ELPC Science Advisory Council, play to win and know how to get things done.  ELPC is truly making a difference for a better world.


Your support has helped ELPC advance a cleaner renewable energy mix for the Midwest, accelerate cleaner transportation, and clean up the rivers and great lakes that we all care about. Please consider ELPC’s results and make a financial contribution to support our successful program work in 2016:


Ditching the Illiana Tollway Boondoggle and Protecting the Remarkable Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

Midewin_Illiana_250x330The proposed new Illiana Tollway is a fiscal folly, undermines sound regional planning and would harm wildlife and ecological values in the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. On June 16th, Federal District Court Judge Jorge Alonso granted Plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment and declared that the federal and state transportation agencies’ approval of the Tier 1 final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision “for the proposed new Illiana Expressway was arbitrary and capricious and in violation of NEPA.” This is a tremendous litigation victory for ELPC’s public interest attorneys on behalf of our clients Midewin Heritage Association, Openlands and Sierra Club.

More than a dozen newspapers across Illinois have editorialized against the Illiana “road to nowhere” during the state’s fiscal crisis and when there are much higher priorities for limited transportation infrastructure funds to enable badly-needed fixes for transit and commuter rail, intercity higher-speed rail, and highway and bridge repairs.

ELPC’s legal, economic and media advocacy and our clients’ public engagement have changed the proposed new boondoggle Illiana Tollway from a “done deal” to “terminal life support.” It’s time for Governor Rauner and Illinois’ political leadership to finally ditch the Illiana once and for all. ELPC is working hard in the federal and state courts, and in the courts of public opinion, to bring the proposed Illiana Tollway to its well-deserved end.


Installing One Million Smart Thermostats in Illinois – A National Model

NestThermostat_250x330ELPC and Commonwealth Edison worked together creating an ambitious new program to install one million new smart thermostats in Illinois homes and small businesses over the next five years. U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy joined us for the October 8th public announcement. This leading-edge initiative provides rebates up to $120, using the consumer-funded Energy Efficiency Performance Standards program resources, for the new generation of Ecobee, Nest and Honeywell thermostats that learn customer behavior and adjust cooling and heating without complicated programming. These “smart thermostats” can save consumers 15%-25% from their heating and cooling costs and reduce pollution. Once the Illinois program is off the ground, ELPC plans to replicate it in more Midwestern states. This innovative technology is a winner.


Accelerating Solar Energy in Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and Minnesota

SolarShedd_250x330Solar energy installations in the Midwest grew by 70% last year, creating jobs, new businesses and economic growth. However, the coal industry and some electric utilities are seeking to impose regulatory barriers to protect their polluting power plants and their electricity monopolies. ELPC is working to advance sound policies that drive clean solar energy forward and remove regulatory barriers to development.

In Illinois, ELPC was instrumental in helping enact and then design the state’s first $30 million distributed solar generation procurement.

In Iowa, ELPC successfully repelled Interstate Power & Light’s attempt to impose new barriers to solar development after we won a major case before the Iowa Supreme Court to remove utility-imposed barriers to conventional third-party financing arrangements for solar energy development projects.

In Minnesota and Michigan, ELPC is making steady progress with our state-based partners to design new distributed solar programs and strategies. We’re moving forward at this transformational time to accelerate solar energy development for a cleaner energy future. ELPC is pro-technological innovation, pro-competition and pro-removing regulatory barriers to solar.


Keeping the Great Lakes and Midwest Rivers Clean

LakeMichiganMichigan-sidebarThere are two main types of water pollution – from a single, identifiable “point” source and the “non-point” flows from farms, ranches and streets. ELPC is working on both.

This is the first year that the SS Badger car ferry did not dump about 1,000,000 pounds of toxic coal ash into Lake Michigan. The ship now has a new coal ash containment system thanks to an effective advocacy campaign led by ELPC with U.S. Senator Dick Durbin and our good colleagues. ELPC’s work to stop the SS Badger from polluting the drinking water supplies for 42 million people is a strong precedent that reinforces that it’s no longer acceptable to dump toxic pollution in our Great Lakes.

ELPC also brought together more than 60 scientists and policymakers for our second annual Great Lakes Science-Policy Confluence Conference to discuss solutions to mitigate “nutrient pollution” – agricultural runoff that helped cause toxic blue-green algae blooms in Western Lake Erie. In summer 2014, 500,000 people in the Toledo area were without safe drinking water supplies for 72 hours. That’s not acceptable. ELPC is stepping up our advocacy for the necessary actions to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus runoff from agricultural operations that caused the toxic algae and contaminated water supplies.

ELPC continues our Mississippi River protection legal leadership, and we convened a new collaboration of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia groups for coordinated multi-state action to help clean up the Ohio River, considered by some to be America’s most polluted waterway.


ELPC Is Accelerating the Next Generation of Sustainable Transportation

AmtrakELPC is a recognized leader in advancing the Midwest high-speed rail network, which will improve mobility, reduce pollution, create jobs and pull together the regional economy. We are working to accelerate new clean cars and trucks, which use modern technologies to increase fuel efficiency and reduce pollution.

This year, I was honored to be asked by Amtrak’s CEO to serve on a four-member Blue Ribbon Panel analyzing and recommending strategies and better practices to increase fluidity and reduce congestion for higher-speed passenger rail and freight rail in the “Chicago Gateway” leading to St. Louis, Detroit and the East Coast.



Making the Clean Power Plan Standards Work Well

coal_250x330This is the federal cornerstone for America’s commitment to climate change solutions. ELPC is working with many business, environmental, health and faith-based allies to overcome the coal industry’s and certain politicians’ litigation efforts to stall progress, and to effectively implement state climate solution action plans in the Midwest states. Overall, ELPC is advancing new policies to drive energy markets with technological innovations that can change the world.





ELPC believes in the core principle that environmental progress and economic growth can be achieved together, and we put that sustainability principle into practice every day. ELPC’s solutions-focused strategies engage diverse partners and seize opportunities to accelerate clean energy development and clean transportation technologies, protect clean air and clean water, and preserve the Midwest’s wild and natural places.

ELPC’s multidisciplinary staff teams of public interest attorneys, M.B.A.s, policy experts and communications specialists are fully engaged across the Midwest, and we’re making progress. It isn’t easy; real change never is. We don’t give up. Let’s keep working together to win.

Thank you for engaging and making a contribution to support ELPC’s work to harness this change and achieve a brighter future.


Progressive Railroading: Amtrak CEO Enlists ELPC to Discuss Rail Infrastructure Investments in DC

Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Boardman and a panel of transportation experts met yesterday at the National Press Club to highlight the need for the United States to invest in major rail infrastructure projects that serve national interests, such as the Northeast Corridor (NEC) Gateway, Chicago Gateway and Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) programs.

Boardman and the panelists met to discuss the nation’s aging infrastructure, railway congestion and the lack of adequate investment to address solutions.

“Persistent underinvestment leads to [rail traffic] congestion — and the lack of investment threatens our national economy,” Boardman said.

Joining Boardman at the event were Tom Carper, a member of Amtrak’s board; Howard Learner, founder of the Environmental Law and Policy Center in Chicago; and Jack Quinn, former chairman of the Railroads Subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and current president of Erie Community College. The three also served on the Chicago Gateway Initiative Blue Ribbon Panel, which Boardman appointed last year to examine recurring rail gridlock in Chicago. The task force issued its recommendations earlier this month.

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Amtrak’s Blue Ribbon Panel Report Recommends Congestion Fixes for Passenger, Freight Trains

Last week, Amtrak’s Blue Ribbon Panel on the Chicago Gateway issued its report at a standing-room only briefing, packed with Chicagoland rail transportation community leaders.  The report includes recommendations for fixing the intricate congestion problems that impede fluid passenger and freight rail transportation weaving through the Chicago area. I was honored to serve on the four-member expert panel, convened by Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman, that produced the Chicago Gateway Initiative report and recommendations.

Please check out this Amtrak video and Press Release that explains the goals and recommendations, along with the excellent media coverage in the Chicago Tribune and CBS News:


This is no small problem: Chicago’s rail gridlock is responsible for an estimated $800 billion in annual losses for agricultural, natural resources, automotive, manufacturing, retail and service businesses. Our recommendations, as reported in the Chicago Tribune, call for boosting on-time performance to improve Amtrak and Metra passenger service and reduce freight train congestion throughout the region.

Key recommendations include:

  • Create a unified control center at Union Station, where dispatchers from each of the six major freight railroads, Amtrak and Metra can coordinate trains and improve on-time performance. These dispatchers are now located at several locations throughout the country. As I told theChicago Tribune, “If you had every airline at O’Hare airport with their own air traffic controller doing everything on their own, it would be a mess.”
  • Prioritize projects that will have the greatest impact on removing chokepoints for passenger and freight trains traveling through Illinois and Indiana. As I told CBS News Radio: “Chicago is not much further than a bad snowstorm away from a meltdown of the system.”
  • Complete the 75th Street improvement project and the Grand Crossing improvement project.  The 75th Street project will eliminate rail conflicts at three rail junctions, including Belt Junction – the most congested rail chokepoint in the Chicago area – where more than 80 Metra and freight trains cross paths daily. The Grand Crossing Project will help speed up and reduce delays for Amtrak passenger train service between Chicago and Detroit.

My co-panelists were Thomas Carper, member and former Chair of Amtrak’s board of directors; Linda Morgan, partner at the law firm of Nossaman, LLP, and former chair of the U.S. Surface Transportation Board; and Jack Quinn, Jr., president of Erie Community College and a former Congressman in the U.S. House of Representatives.

ELPC is working hard with policymakers and both passenger and freight rail business and labor leaders to reduce congestion, improve rail service and work toward making the Blue Ribbon Panel’s recommendations a reality. ELPC Deputy Director Kevin Brubaker and I are committed to accelerating modern higher-speed passenger rail for the Chicago-hubbed Midwest rail network that will improve mobility, reduce pollution, create jobs and spur economic growth. Let’s move forward.

Amtrak Press Release: Solutions Suggested to Solve Chicago Rail Back-Ups

Read the release on Amtrak’s website here.

CHICAGO – Bringing together rail traffic control dispatchers now separated by thousands of miles, improved operating practices by Amtrak and other railroads and funding for priority projects already identified in Northern Illinois and Indiana are top recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Panel appointed by Amtrak in response to massive “Chicago Gateway” delays to passenger and freight traffic.

The panel, chosen last year by Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman, reported its findings with two university and policy groups today in Chicago. The panel released a study it commissioned that shows the Chicago congestion problem creates an economic vulnerability of up to $799 billion every year, impacting six key industries constituting 85 percent of U.S domestic product.

The named industries are agriculture and natural resources, automotive, manufacturing, retail and services. The congestion challenge in Chicago poses the largest potential economic vulnerability to the U.S. economy of all the major rail hubs in the United States and industry observers have referred to Chicago as America’s “rail traffic speed bump.”

“The panel interviewed experts with the freight rail industry, Metra commuter rail, the states of Illinois, Indiana and Michigan and others and the verdict was unanimous: the implications of failing to act are dire for the economy of the nation in general and the Chicago area in particular,” Boardman said.

The panel’s report, the study it commissioned from Frost & Sullivan and MSY Analytics, animations showing the benefits of various projects and a video overview are now posted at

National Magnitude: “It’s the busiest rail hub because all the major railroads run through that hub and all the commodities that we think of: grain, crude oil, coal, manufacturing goods, intermodal (that’s product that’s on rail and at some point on truck for a period of time), all of that’s moving through Chicago,” said Linda Morgan of Washington, D.C., a Panelist who was the first chair U.S. Surface Transportation Board, the railroad financial regulatory agency.

Local economic impact: “If something doesn’t happen, transportation experts are going to figure this out. Now it may be leaving the Midwest, it may be opening ports on the east coast and transferring it other ways. It’s a huge risk to the Midwest, but it’s affecting the country,” said Tom Carper of Macomb, Ill., a Panel Member and an Amtrak Board Member.

“Our customers deserve to have on time performance on their trains, so that’s number one,” Boardman continued. “We’re also looking for a consistent solution; we don’t want to run into this every year, two years or five years.”

Boardman accepted the panel’s recommendations and said Amtrak will continue to make certain it operates effectively in hopes other carriers will take similar steps. He offered space in Chicago Union Station for a dispatching facility to bring together the rail dispatchers now scattered from Chicago and the suburbs to Texas, Nebraska and Minnesota.

Co-located dispatching: “Get Amtrak, Metra and the freight rail operators together in one room so that they’re operating and coordinating and making all those trains run on time,” said Howard Learner of Chicago, a Panel Member who is President and Executive Director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center. “If you had every airline at O’Hare Airport with their own air traffic controller doing everything on their own it’d be a mess.”

The panel endorsed prioritization of projects designed to improve the flow of passenger and freight trains – but unfunded – in Illinois and Indiana. These include the locations identified as P2 and P3 (75th Street Corridor Improvement Program) and P4 by the CREATE Program, a concerted effort by freight railroads, Amtrak and other stakeholders to address rail congestion issues in Chicago. The panel cited the completion of CREATE’s P1 project at Englewood as an example and made recommendations for next-steps in the Indiana Gateway Project across the northwest corner of the state and a future dedicated passenger rail route connecting to Michigan and the East.

Funding: “We have a really good news story to tell about the railroad industry in this country,” said Jack Quinn of Buffalo, N.Y., a Panel Member who is a college president since his retirement from the U.S. House after serving as chairman of Railroads Subcommittee. “We have to make sure that everybody gets the message so that they can walk hand in hand when it comes time to try to get that money, which is really tough.”

“Certainly for Amtrak and some of the freight railroads there are real opportunities there and I think we always have to be looking for creative options moving forward,” added Morgan.

Boardman agreed the cases need to be made in Congress, Statehouses and elsewhere for a Chicago Gateway Initiative to address passenger and freight railroad issues rooted in the Midwest. This is similar to the New York Gateway Initiative to address similar issues in the Northeast, where Amtrak has been participating in detailed talks regarding funding and has made investments.


CBS Chicago: Panel Suggests Fixes For Growing Amtrak, Metra, And Freight Train Delays

CHICAGO (CBS) — Delays on Metra and Amtrak lines are growing, not to mention the freight hauled to and through the Chicago area by rail. A blue ribbon panel commissioned by Amtrak believes it has the answers — but they won’t come cheap.


The delays riders see and experience are just the tip of the iceberg, said former Macomb Mayor Tom Carper, a member of the Amtrak board, and a member of the panel. He compared it to a $650-800 billion tax on Americans, because of the delays encountered today — costs which shippers and manufacturers are all too happy to pass along to consumers.


Howard Learner, president of Chicago’s Environmental Law and Policy Center, said the problems can best be described this way: If each airline at O’Hare International Airport had its own traffic controllers, the result would be chaos.


“Would anybody think that’s a good idea?” he asked. “I don’t think so.” 

Learner said that effectively is what the nation’s major railroads are doing, because the trains creating the delays are dispatched from railroad-owned control centers hundreds of miles away, in places such as Omaha and Fort Worth. He said it makes no sense.


Asked how serious he believes the situation has become, he said, “Chicago is not much further than a bad snowstorm away from a meltdown of the system.”


Panelists said that much of the delays can be traced to a corridor along 75th Street. They proposed a new connection that would allow Metra’s SouthWest Service trains to originate at LaSalle Street Station, instead of Union Station; construction of two flyovers; and elimination of a bottleneck junction that delays SouthWest Service, Amtrak, and freight trains. All conceded the changes would be costly; and require a mixture of federal, state and private financing; but the panelists said not fixing it would continue to cost even more in lost productivity and late arrivals.


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E&E Publishing: Amtrak Panel Urges Quick Action to Ease Chicago Bottlenecks

October 1, 2015

By Sean Reilly

More government investment, better coordination among railroads and streamlined environmental permitting of new projects are among a specially formed Amtrak panel’s recommendations for reducing long-standing congestion in its Chicago-area hub.

Without action, the panel warned in a report released today, “things will get much worse … since all projections point to increased demand for both freight and passenger rail service.”

“There will be no quick fixes when the next crisis occurs,” the report added, apparently alluding to crippling bottlenecks almost two years ago triggered in part by a particularly severe winter and a boom in crude-by-rail traffic. Passenger service took a beating as well, because freight railroads own most of the track used by Amtrak trains.

Joe Boardman, Amtrak’s president and CEO, created the “blue ribbon panel” last October, after punctuality on Amtrak’s long-distance trains plummeted to its lowest point since 2007; today’s report had originally been expected in late May (Greenwire, Oct. 28, 2014). Although it has since improved, on-time performance on most routes still falls short of what Amtrak deems acceptable, even with a fudge factor that allows trains to be up to 30 minutes late and still be counted as on time.

In July, for example, the California Zephyr, which runs between Chicago and San Francisco, punctually reached its final destination on only 5 percent of trips, according to the latest monthly report posted on Amtrak’s website. For the Empire Builder, which links Chicago and the Pacific Northwest, the on-time rate was 32 percent. The Capitol Limited, running between Chicago and Washington, D.C., was on time about 55 percent of trips.

The panel’s members are Amtrak board member Tom Carper, who is unrelated to the Delaware senator of the same name; Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center, a Chicago-based advocacy group; Linda Morgan, a lawyer and former chairwoman of the Surface Transportation Board; and former Rep. Jack Quinn (R-N.Y.), who chaired the House Transportation and Infrastructure railroads subcommittee while in Congress.


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