TRAIN OPERATIONS: Opportunities to Reduce the Cost of Servicing and Inspecting Trainsets

November 07, 2018 |  Audit Reports

This report is the second in a series about the Mechanical department’s operating efficiency and focuses on the department’s service and inspection activities. The company has a total of 62 locations nationwide where it services and inspects trainsets; 50 smaller outlying sites, as well as 12 larger preventative maintenance facilities. Our audit objective was to identify opportunities, if any, for the Mechanical department to reduce the cost of its service and inspection operations at its 50 outlying sites.

We identified several opportunities for the company to reduce the costs of service and inspection activities, including adjusting workloads and staffing to achieve greater efficiencies and better managing overtime hours. For example, we found that some of the work being conducted at company and contractor staffed service and inspection sites could be performed by staff at service and inspection areas within preventative maintenance facilities while still meeting timelines mandated by federal safety standards. Additionally, in our review of 4 of the 16 company-staffed service and inspection sites, we found that full-time employees worked standard 8 hour shifts although these sites do not have enough service and inspection work to fill an 8-hour shift. Finally, we found that in fiscal year 2017, the company paid $3.1 million in overtime at the 16 service and inspection sites staffed with company employees, even though some managers were not aware that staff were incurring overtime or the amount incurred. Depending on the extent of changes implemented, the company could put $2.3 million to $6.4 million to better use annually.

To address its findings, the OIG recommended that Amtrak consider the extent to which it can take actions to operate more efficiently at its service and inspection sites. This includes identifying opportunities to shift work from these sites to the service and inspection areas of preventative maintenance facilities, reducing unnecessary full-time positions at sites without a full-time workload, and better managing the amount of overtime that staff incur at service and inspection sites.

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