Problems in the Northeast Corridor Railway Improvement Project

CED-79-38: Published: Mar 29, 1979. Publicly Released: Mar 30, 1979.

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The Northeast Corridor Improvement Project (NECIP) to improve rail passenger service between Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C. will not be completed within the established time and funding limits. A review was made of the project's management and planning which contributed to these problems. Previous audits have raised serious questions about the accuracy, reliability, and validity of many Amtrak NECIP activities.

Amtrak's performance on NECIP construction work has not been good. Work has consistently run behind production schedules while exceeding cost estimates. The scope of work for NECIP has been reduced from that originally intended in the draft implementation master plan. These reductions will result in increased future maintenance costs for Amtrak, reduced passenger comfort, reduced on-time reliability, and reduced safety. Shortcomings in NECIP management have resulted in numerous problems. The three party management structure is not working effectively and has contributed to the problems. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is the overall program manager and has the final authority and responsibility for the entire program. However, FRA has not been effective, and major overall decisions and determinations have not been made.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Matter: Congress should decide what improvements are desirable and what additional funding, if any, should be provided to meet current trip time goals, make improvements to feeder lines, and further improve trip time goals for the Northeast Corridor.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: FRA should not try to involve itself in day-to-day decisions and operations. Amtrak should assign overall responsibility to one individual for NECIP performance and establish a stable NECIP organization with a clearly defined role to help assure that its contruction work is completed on time and within cost estimates. Amtrak should take immediate steps to correct the weaknesses identified in its management system and internal controls.

    Agency Affected:


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