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Amtrak has released their monthly reports for October and November 2016.  Examining the Cascades performance for this time period shows ridership has continued to be above 2015, on time performance was relatively poor, and revenue was up.

Ridership

  • October
    • 2015 – 54,190 
    • 2016 – 62,930
  • November
    • 2015 – 57,844
    • 2016 – 63,177

Ridership is on pace for a 9% improvement over 2015 and if December is similar to November and October the total for the year may be 810,000, barely surpassing the 807,000 riders from 2013.  In 2012 with 836,000 riders was the last time ridership was higher.

On Time Performance

  • October
    • 2015 – 78.5%
    • 2016 – 72%
  • November
    • 2015 – 77.9%
    • 2016 – 63.7%

The on time performance dramatically dropped.  For most of the year it was tracking close or better than 2015.  The poor performance in October and November made it extremely unlikely for on time performance to exceed 2015.

Though on time performance was much worse, the amount of time spent delayed is very similar.  In September 2016 the on time performance was 82% with 11,148 minutes of delay.  October had 10,942 minutes of delay with on time performance of 72% and November 11,134 minutes of delay with on time performance of 63.7%.  There is not a correlation between minutes of delay and on time performance for this period.  With the current Amtrak reports I am unable to narrow the cause.  I presume there was an increase in the number of trains delayed, but the delays themselves were shorter.

Fares

  • October
    • 2015 – $2,108,965
    • 2016 -$2,230,003
  • November
    • 2015 – $2,236,715
    • 2016 – $2,297,269

Average revenue per ride has varied so far this year, similar or better than 2015 in the first half of 2016 and below 2015 in the second half of 2016.  Due to October and November, the revenue per ride is now slightly lower overall, down 4%, but total revenue from fares is up 5% over the course of the year.  This points to a decrease in ticket prices leading to a boost in ridership.  If the costs are similar to last year this could be a smart change as overall revenue is up.  I now expect the end of year recovery rate to be around 61%.

A few months ago and before the October and November data, almost all metrics were better than 2015.  Now that October and November data is in, the metrics look a little less rosy, but still very good.  810,000 riders for the year, 61% recovery rate, overall revenue up, but revenue per ride slightly lower and on time performance similar to 2015.

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2 Replies to “Amtrak Cascades Performance as of November 2016”

  1. On BNSF (north of Portland, that is), Cascades’s two major delay categories are Slow Orders (#1) and Freight Train Interference (#2).

    On this route, I believe most of the Slow Orders are due to ongoing construction to improve the route (good). A few are due to weather (not so good). The Freight Train Interference has, in the past, been stated to be mainly around the single-tracked Nelson Bennett Tunnel at Point Defiance in Tacoma. This is to be bypassed by the Point Defiance Bypass which will go into service later this fall.

    1. Slow orders weren’t seemingly dramatically different and in September they were actually higher. Most of the delay time was attributed to freight trains in all three months accounting for ~40% of the delay.

      Anecdotally I was on a train in November going from Seattle to Portland that was held up for 30 minutes by a freight train and this was far south of the single tracked tunnel.

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