Amtrak's new trains are at 'significant risk' of being delayed thanks to poor management - and that could be terrible news for riders on its busiest line
Kyodo News Stills via Getty Image
- Amtrak showed off the first of its new Acela trainsets this week, which are set to enter service in 2021.
- However, a new report from the railroad's inspector general found significant weaknesses in management that could delay the new deliveries even further.
- If more delays occur, Amtrak could be forced to cut some service in the Northeast Corridor, its busiest and most financially important routes.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Amtrak failed to fill a key engineering position for its new Acela trains for six months, the railroad's inspector general found in a new report. That's just one example of managerial oversights that pose a "significant risk" of the $2.1 billion "Acela 21" project being delayed yet again, the nearly 30-page report found.Amtrak's Acela - the United States' closest thing to true high-speed rail - is critical to the railroad's ambitious profitability goals. The new Acela 21 trainsets currently under construction are the company's largest single investment in its 49-year history, scheduled to begin service in 2021 and eventually replace the current Acela fleet that dates back two decades.
"So far, the Acela 21 program has employed some sound program management practices," the partially redacted report said. "Nevertheless, management and structural weaknesses still pose significant risks. Foremost is that project delays have eliminated any cushion in the schedule, and multiple indicators point to further delays beyond the planned service launch in 2021."Amtrak has already begun to think about potential service cuts to the Acela, its most commercially successful and profitable service, and the associated financial impacts in case the new trains are delayed, the report said.
"Our prior work has documented repeated program management weaknesses with major company acquisitions," the report said. "Addressing the management weaknesses we identified will help the company more effectively manage the Acela 21 program."Amtrak declined to comment specifically on the management weaknesses and potential service cuts identified by the report. However, in a memo responding to the OIG's report, Roger Harris, Amtrak's top commercial and marketing officer, said Amtrak is "fully committed to ensuring key leaders and contributors have the capacity and resources necessary to achieve the program goals and deliverables."Two test trainsets showed off in action this week for the first time are almost complete in Upstate New York, and will next head to Colorado for more testing. That's where things could get tricky, thanks to a new IT system that's never been used before.
"Our past work has demonstrated that the company has had limited success integrating complex systems," the report said, adding that Amtrak will need to train nearly 1,000 employees before the launch date.
"Given the billions of dollars the company plans to spend over the next decade, positioning itself now to manage these acquisitions most effectively will ensure good stewardship of taxpayer dollars and best serve its customers," the report concluded.Do you work for Amtrak? We want to hear from you. Get in touch with this reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org For sensitive news tips, secure contact methods can be found here.
Read the inspector general's full report below:
NOW WATCH: Why do planes dump fuel?
- IMF projects 11.5% growth rate for India in 2021, only major economy to record double digit growth
- Connaught Place to remain shut as farmers' tractor parade turns violent
- After violent clashes with police, farmers swarm Red Fort
- DMRC closed entry and exit gates of yellow, green, violet and blue lines in surge of farmers protest
- Delhi Police fires tear-gas shells on farmers near Akshardham temple and Sanjay Gandhi Transport Nagar