I've heard that trains in the USA are often very late, for a variety of reasons; see e.g. What is the state of train travel in the USA? and its answers. But then again, the only country where I haven't heard residents complain that trains abroad are more reliable than in their country is Switzerland1, so I prefer facts. According to the Wikipedia page on Amtrak, reliability has significantly improved (emphasis mine):

Freight rail operators are required under federal law to give dispatching preference to Amtrak trains. Some freight railroads have been accused of violating or skirting these regulations, allegedly resulting in passenger trains waiting in sidings for an hour or longer while waiting for freight traffic to clear the track. The railroads' dispatching practices were investigated in 2008,[67] resulting in stricter laws about train priority which had a dramatic result. Amtrak's overall on-time performance went up from 74.7% in fiscal 2008 to 84.7% in 2009, with long-distance trains and others outside the NEC seeing the greatest benefit. The Missouri River Runner jumped from a very poor 11% to 95%, becoming one of Amtrak's best performers. The Texas Eagle went from 22.4% to 96.7%, and the California Zephyr, with an abysmal 5% on-time record in 2008, went up to 78.3%.[68] However, this improved performance also coincided with a general economic downturn, resulting in the lowest freight rail traffic volumes since at least 1988, meaning less freight traffic to impede passenger traffic.[69]

Amtrak on their website have monthly performance reports. For November 2012, that the California Zephyr has an end-to-end on-time performance record of 93.3% (page 96). For long-distance trains, on time is defined as within 30 minutes. Fair enough, but this relates to end-to-end on-time performance. If I don't stay until the final destination then that's not very relevant for me. I've encountered at least twice in Sweden that a night train was two hours late in the evening, but on-time the next morning. Therefore, on-time statistics for stations along the route are quite relevant.

Where, if anywhere, can I find Amtrak on-time statistics for arbitrary stations along a route, as opposed to end-to-end on-time statistics?

If those are not available, is there any other information indicating as to whether it is common for Amtrak trains to be late along the route, but on-time at the end, or if delays along the route rather tend to stick?

1I've heard Brits say Dutch trains are better, Dutch say German trains are better, Germans say Swiss trains are better, Norwegians say Swedish trains are better, Swedes say Finnish trains are better, Finns say Russian trains are better, and having travelled in many of those countries, all I can confirm is that Swiss trains are reliable.

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    For the record, a train in Switzerland is on time if it arrives within 3 minutes of the scheduled time. They're rather close to their target of at least 89% punctual arrivals – Jonas Feb 13 '13 at 3:28
  • Yes, I think the Amtrak target of 30 minutes is unusually long, even for long-distance trains. I think they use 10 minutes for short-distance trains, most places I've been use 5 minutes there. I think Sweden uses 5 minutes for short-distance and 15 minutes for long-distance. – gerrit Feb 13 '13 at 9:18
  • Swiss trains are so reliable, but think of the Swiss legend of punctuality and also the high price of their tickets. For Amtrak, I find reasonable to be late by a few hours on a 50-hour trip (California Zephyr). I am always surprised when I see that French SNCF does not fear running 8-hour train rides (over 1200 km) on such a crowded network. – Vince Feb 13 '13 at 10:46
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    @gerrit yeah I agree but for long-distance trains, there is one train per day so could one really rely on it for common travel? I think Greyhound network would be more appropriate. And I see Amtrak train rides more like a trip itself, like cruises, than as a means of transportation, like trains in Europe. – Vince Feb 13 '13 at 11:55
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    Anecdotally, I can say that Amtrak trains in the Northeast US (especially the routes between Washington D.C. and Boston) are in general much more punctual than elsewhere in the country because of their reliance by commuters. – ESultanik Feb 13 '13 at 12:45

You can only query the statistics for one train at one station at a time (up to four weeks in the past), but you might find what you are looking for here:


You can also use their "catch train" search to get current data from some running trains.

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