Dear CAPITOL CORRIDOR Riders-
I want to sincerely apologize for the delays many of you experienced onboard yesterday’s Capitol Corridor morning and evening trains. A series of events- some preventable and others unpredictable- contributed to the numerous and varied delays that culminated in a day of very poor service to our passengers.
For those of you affected by the delays, I wanted to provide an explanation of what happened, and how we are working to prevent these types of service delays from occurring again. The morning began with a significant delay to Train 524 departing San Jose due to human error, not mechanical malfunction. Our operating partners have already initiated improved training to those involved.
The cancellation of train 525 at the Suisun/Fairfield Station was due to a mechanical malfunction with the rear axle and associated traction motors of the locomotive. This type of unpredictable mechanical issue has not been experienced on the Capitol Corridor passenger locomotives since the service began in 1991.
In the evening, train 542 arrived at the Caltrain Santa Clara Station and then began experiencing problems related to a leak in an air valve- which has the potential to affect the train’s braking ability. Since your safety is our number one priority, the train was not released until the crew was confident that it could safely continue its route, nearly 40 minutes behind schedule. To make matters worse, the delayed Train 542 departed Emeryville Station and struck a vehicle abandoned on the tracks. Luckily, the vehicle was not occupied; however, this incident further delayed Train 542 due to required inspections of the trainset and the tracks. Train 544, operating on-time, was able to pull next to Train 542 to pick-up passengers who had experienced delays of nearly two hours.
Now that you are aware of what caused the delays, I wanted to relay to you how we are working to minimize these types of events in the future in conjunction with our operating partners – Union Pacific Railroad (dispatching and track maintenance), Amtrak (train operations and maintenance) and Caltrans Rail (rail vehicle owner). Early last week, Amtrak management made organizational changes at the facility in Oakland. Since this restructuring, there has been small, measured progress in terms of mechanical-related delays. In fact, none of yesterday’s mechanical delays were attributable to the Oakland facility. We are also working with Caltrans Rail (the owner of the locomotives and rail cars) to determine if adjustments can be made to the current vehicle overhaul program to increase the availability of equipment assigned to the Capitol Corridor and San Joaquin train services.
The Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA) and our service partners take great pride in the delivery of train service to our most important partner- our passengers. Today, and in a few prior instances over the past few months, we did not deliver the superior service you are accustomed to and should expect every time you board a Capitol Corridor train. We have learned some lessons from yesterday’s events and I am confident that the CCJPA and our Capitol Corridor operating partners will rise to the occasion and restore a superior level of service. I would like to highlight that in spite of today’s delays the on-time performance (OTP) for the Capitol Corridor is 94% and continues to be one of the best in the Amtrak network, primarily due to the disciplined dispatching and a dedicated state of good repair program by Union Pacific.
Once again, I extend my apologies to all of you impacted by any of these events. You have my commitment as Managing Director that the CCJPA will be working with our operating partners to improve the Capitol Corridor train service we deliver to you every day.
David B. Kutrosky