Route Performance Glossary of Terms

On-Time Performance (OTP)

On-time performance is a percentage measure of train performance. It is calculated by taking the total number of trains arriving “on-time” at the end-point of the run divided by the total number of trains operated on the run. A train is considered “on-time” if it arrives at the final destination, or end-point, within an allowed number of minutes, or tolerance, of its scheduled arrival time. Trains are allowed a certain tolerance at the end-point based on the number of miles traveled. For example, trains traveling 250 miles or less are allowed a 10 minute tolerance while trains traveling over 550 miles are allowed a 30 minute tolerance, which is the maximum allowed. A long-distance train traveling over 550 miles would be considered “on-time” if it arrived at its final destination within 30 minutes of its scheduled arrival time. On-time performance is only calculated and measured at the end-point of a train route.


Train delays are recorded in minutes and are a measure of deviation from schedule. Delays are classified by specific cause. Types of delay causes have been grouped together into the eight general categories:

  • Track and Signal Delays: All delays related to the railroad infrastructure. Any type of delay involving problems with the tracks or the signals, or delays involving maintenance work being done on the tracks or signaling systems. This includes delays from reduced speeds to allow safe operation due to track problems.
  • Train Interference Delays: All delays related to other train movements in the area. Primary causes of these types of delays are freight trains but also can include commuter trains and other Amtrak passenger trains. This category also includes delays due to switching to alternate tracks or routes to operate around other trains.
  • Equipment Delays: All delays related to problems with the passenger train cars or engine. These delays can be due to unplanned equipment servicing or due to an equipment failure that may have occurred enroute or at the initial terminal. This includes delays due to a disabled passenger train ahead.
  • Weather Delays: All delays related to weather conditions including speed restrictions due to excessive heat or flash flood warnings, an infrastructure failure due to severe weather, such as flooding, mudslides, washouts, wind damage, fallen trees, lightning strikes and power outages.
  • Passenger Delays: All delays related to assisting passengers. These delays include holding a station departure for passengers boarding or detraining, for passengers connecting from another train or for assistance to an ill or injured passenger. Also included are any necessary delays for providing appropriate assistance to disabled passengers.
  • Operational Delays: All delays related to the late arrival and turning of train equipment at an initial terminal, movement of train equipment between the servicing yard and the initial terminal and all train crew related delays, such as providing adequate crew rest or re-crewing as required by the federal hours of service law. Also included are delays over a detour route.
  • Non-Railroad Delays: All delays related to a non-railroad third party. These delays can be due to customs and immigration, a bridge opening for waterway traffic, police activity, grade crossing accidents or loss of power due to a utility company failure.
  • Other: A unique delay occurrence which does not fall under any of the normal delay categories.