Amtrak's Productivity on Track Rehabilitation Is Lower Than Other Railroads'--Precise Comparison Not Feasible

CED-81-60: Published: Mar 13, 1981. Publicly Released: Mar 13, 1981.

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Amtrak is charged with the responsibility for the Northeast Corridor Improvement Project, a federally-funded project designed to improve rail passenger service. Track rehabilitation is the largest work element under the project. GAO compared Amtrak's track-upgrading productivity with that of Conrail and other railroads performing the same type of work.

Even though the railroads in the comparison performed similar track-upgrading functions, there were different factors and conditions that directly affected their productivity rates. GAO tried to adjust its calculations for these variations; however, it was generally unable to do so within the parameters of the comparison. As a result, comparing the productivity rates of the track-upgrading functions was a complex task which could not be done with scientific precision. Nevertheless, GAO found that the difference between Amtrak's productivity and that of the other railroads was so great that it could conclude that Amtrak's productivity was not as high. Since no attempt was made to determine the reasons for the difference in the productivity rates, GAO could not predict Amtrak's potential for improvement.

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