Report: New Funding Will Challenge Amtrak

AmtrakBy Railfan & Railroad Staff

WASHINGTON — A new report from Amtrak’s Office of Inspector General suggests that a historic investment in the passenger railroad could strain its ability to manage current operations while concurrently planning and managing a long-term multibillion-dollar infrastructure portfolio. 

The report, which was released this week, essentially states that the $22 billion investment from last year’s Infrastructure and Jobs Act could be too much of a good thing for the railroad. The Inspector General’s report noted that Amtrak has been challenged in the past when it comes to fiscal responsibility and that some of its fundamental business practices are out-of-date. It also noted that Amtrak will need to establish “robust internal controls” to protect the funds from fraud, waste and abuse. 

Another challenge will be hiring additional people so that it can take full advantage of the investment. Amtrak plans on expanding its workforce by upwards of 21 percent this year, including hiring new managers to lead the Infrastructure and Jobs Act-funded projects. The report states that the company will be challenged to build a workforce quickly enough in a timeframe that will keep pace with its growing demands. A tight labor market will exacerbate those issues. 

Finally, the Inspector General’s report found that Amtrak will need to do a better job coordinating projects within the company and with its stakeholders, including state operators. 

In an effort to address the challenges created by the new funding, Amtrak has created a Capital Delivery department that will help manage and implement it. 

The full report can be read online

This article was posted on: April 6, 2022