Amtrak Charges for Maryland Department of Transportation Commuter Train Use of the Washington Union Station

RCED-83-35: Published: Oct 15, 1982. Publicly Released: Oct 29, 1982.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO analyzed the charges which Amtrak is assessing for use of the Washington Union Station terminal by the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) for commuter trains in view of a recent Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) decision on costing methodologies for Northeast Corridor commuter services.

The ICC decision provided that costs for Northeast Corridor use by commuter trains are to be allocated on an avoidable cost basis, rather than a fully allocated cost basis. Union Station is considered part of the Northeast Corridor, and Amtrak, through a wholly owned subsidiary which operates the Washington Union Station terminal, has been assessing MDOT commuter trains using a fully allocated cost basis. Amtrak contended that its subsidiary which operates Union Station is not subject to ICC decisions and that charges calculated on a fully allocated cost basis would logically be higher than those calculated on an avoidable cost basis. The actual differences between these charges cannot be determined without extensive analysis of station operations and costs and negotiations between the parties to the dispute. GAO also found that other State commuter operations using Northeast Corridor facilities are being assessed on the basis of avoidable costs. Either MDOT, the operators of the commuter trains, or the Amtrak subsidiary would have to officially petition ICC to obtain a declaratory ruling on these issues.

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