Title

COMMUTER RAIL SERVICE RELIABILITY: ON-TIME PERFORMANCE AND CAUSES FOR DELAYS

Authors

D Nelson
K O'Neil

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

2000

Subject Area

operations - reliability, operations - performance, organisation - performance, mode - rail

Keywords

Time of day, Reliability, Railroad commuter service, Periods of the day, On time performance, Delays, Days, Commuter rail

Abstract

Service reliability is a key commuter rail performance indicator. All agencies calculate on-time performance statistics daily and publish periodic reports concerning trends in on-time performance. Most agencies also code their delays by cause. Information on causes and patterns of delay, however, are not widely distributed. Yet, information on the causes of unreliable service is important to commuter rail planners and operators as they seek to improve the reliability of new and existing services. The patterns and causes of delay for U.S. commuter rail systems are presented for a geographically diverse sample of six commuter rail properties, operating push-pull commuter services in seven different states. Information is provided across systems to develop general parameters for why trains are late. Variations in service reliability are reported by day of week and time of day. The reliability of short lines relative to longer services is compared. Causes for delays are evaluated, including engineering and mechanical malfunctions, programmed track work, transportation crew failures, passenger-related issues, weather, and cascades. The information is useful in determining the range of on-time performance values that might be expected of new services. It is also useful for benchmarking existing services against the general performance of a diverse set of peer services.