TRAIN OPERATIONS: Opportunities Exist to Improve Private Railcar Management and Business Practices
Individuals and companies use private railcars for leisure travel and to operate businesses by renting the railcars, hosting onboard events, or selling individual seats or beds. When Amtrak assumed responsibility for intercity passenger rail service in 1971, it also assumed responsibility for the movement of private railcars from its predecessors. Our audit objectives were to assess the extent to which the company is (1) identifying and billing private railcar owners for the costs associated with movements and long-term parking services and (2) effectively managing the program.
We found that the company has taken recent actions to improve the management of its private railcar program, but the program is impeded by longstanding program management weaknesses including inadequate controls for cost and revenue management, a lack of standard operating procedures, and limited safety and parking guidelines.
We recommended that the company identify the costs of providing movement and long-term parking services and, once identified, factor these costs into decisions on setting or adjusting prices for private railcar services. Additionally, we recommended the company monitor the program’s financial and performance reporting, finalize and implement the program’s standard operating procedures, and implement guidelines and parking permits at all short- and long-term parking facilities.