T TO THE CONGRESS tion Of I B-16449715) FAderal Railroad Admuwstratlon Department of Transportation BY THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES COMPTROLLER GENiiRAP, OF THE UNITED STATES WASHINGTON DC 20548 B- 164497(5) To the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives This 1s our report on our review of admmlstratlon of the Metrolmer and Turbo-Tram proJects by the Federal Rallroad Admmlstratlon, Department of Transportation Our review was made pursuant to the Budget and Ac- countmg Act, 1921 (31 U S C 53), and the Accountmg and Audltmg Act of 1950 (31 U S C 67) Copies of this report are bemg sent to the Dlrector, Office of Management and Budget, the Secretary of Txans- portatlon, and the Admlnlstrator, Federal Rallroad Ad- mimstratlon Comptroller General of the Umted States 1 r DIGtiST 1 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION 4 Photograph of Metroliner train 7 Photograph of Turbo-Train 8 2 OBSERVATIONS ON THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE METROLINER AND TURBO-TRAIN PROJECTS 9 Metroliner demonstration 11 TechnIcal problems delayed the start of the demonstration 11 Status of the Metroliner demonstra- tion 14 Federal costs 15 Suburban stations 17 Turbo-Train demonstration 18 Technical problems delayed and curtailed the demonstration 20 3 GAO PROPOSALS AND AGENCY COMMENTS 22 4 SCOPE OF REVIEW 23 APFENDIX I Letter dated September 28, 1970, from the Assistant Secretary for Administration, Office of the Secretary, to the General Accounting Office 27 II Principal officials of the Department of Transportation and Department of Commerce responsible for the administration of the activities discussed in this report 29 ABBREVIATIONS GAO General Accounting Office NHRR New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad b COMPTROLLER GENERAL'S ADi?INISTRATION OF METROLINER AND TURBO-TRAIN REl?ORTTO THE CONGRESS PROJECTS Federal RaIlroad Admtnlstratlon Department of Transportation B-164497(5) DIGEST ------ WHYTHE REVIEW WASMADE The Federal Railroad Admlnlstratlon (Agency) sponsors demonstrations to determine whether high-speed ground transportation can improve intercity transportation During fiscal years 1966-70 the Agency obligated over $25 million for demonstration programs (See footnote, p, 4,) The Agency 1s sponsoring two high-speed passenger-train demonstratlons-- the Metroliner between New York City and Washington, D C , and the Turbo- Train between New York City and Boston, Massachusetts The obJectives of the two demonstration proJects were to test the trains while in op- eration,and to determine the public's response to new equipment and ser- vice. To accomplish the ObJeCti Ves, the Agency planned that the Metroliners would make 18 round trips dally--nine between Washington and New York City and nine between Phlladelphla, Pennsylvania, and New York City ex- cept Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays when reduced service would be pro- vided The Turbo-Trains would make four round trips daily between New York City and Boston The estimated cost to the Government for both demonstrations is about $19 3 million Because significant delays were encountered in the start of these proJects and because equipment failures were experienced during the trains' operation, the General Accounting Office (GAO) reviewed the planning and administration of these proJects FINDINGS AND GONCLUSIOIIS The Penn Central Transportation Company (Railroad) began routine pas- senger servtce with six Metroliners In January 1969. The offlclal dem- onstration did not start until October 1, 1970--3 years late--and with seven round trips dally between Washington and New York City The Turbo- Train demonstration did not start until April 1969--over 2 years late-- and with only one round trip daily. (See pp 11 and 20.) GAO found that the Metroltner and Turbo-Train demonstration proJects had not accomplished their ObJectlves as originally planned, because tech- nical problems with the trains had delayed the start of the proJects and had prevented the contractors from maintaining operational enough cars to run the number of round trips necessary to fully accomplish the dem- onstrations obJectives. Since the trains wcfe an advancement of -the state of the art and never before had been constructed or used In the UnIted States, the Agency did not know whether the trains would operate as antlclpated Nevertheless, In 1966 the Agency authorized the Railroad to contract for constructton of 50 MetrolIners and agreed to lease two Turbo-Trains being developed by the United Aircraft Corporation. (See p 9.) GAO found that, although the contracts for the demonstrations provided that, In general, revenues from the operation of the trains In excess of cost be shared, the contracts did not provide that a reduction be made In the amounts of the contracts In the event the trains did not run as often as anticipated. Because It was not known whether the trains would work satisfactorily, the contracts should have provided for such a reduc- tlon The Department of Transportation dtd negotiate a $500,000 reduction ln the Metroliner contract because the tra-rns cannot be used to the extent planned The $500,000 does not appear significant when compared with the remaining contract cost of $10.7 million and the substantial reduc- tlon in the use of the Metroliners during the demonstration Because of the recent start of the demonstration, the amount of the Government's in- vestment that ~117 be recovered from revenues IS unknown (See pp 15 and 17 ) The Agency has made full lease and maintenance payments for the Turbo- Trains In accordance with contracts whlch,as of October 1, 1970, totaled about $1,085,000 and $924,000, respectively Because of the lImited operating schedule of the trains, no recovery of the Government's In- vestment through excess revenues 1s expected (See PP 18 and 19 ) The Metrol-rner demonstration IS planned to run for 2 years from Octo- ber 1, 1970 In April 1970 the RaIlroad informed the Secretary of Transportation that a research and development program using some of the Metroliners as prototypes was essential to overcome the Metroliners' technlcal deflclencles and to ensure success of the demonstration As of November 30, 1970, the Agency was negotlatlng contracts with Westlng- house Electric Corporation and General Electric Company--builders of the MetrolIner--for go-day studies of technical problems (See p 14 > The Turbo-Train demonstration was scheduled to end October 22, 1970 On October 12, 1970, the Secretary of Transportation announced that It would be extended on a month-to-month basis pendlng negotlatlons for ad- ditional use of the trains. As of November 30 the Agency was still ne- gotiating with United Aircraft Corporation. Because technical problems have not been resolved, it appears that any long-term extension of the demonstration would contribute little toward the improved service which the Agency antlclpated would be provided by the Turbo-Trains It 1s also questionable whether an extension would provide addltlonal beneflclal data on public reactlon to the Turbo- Trains. (See p 21 ) 2 RECOMMENDATIONS OR SUGGESTIONS When the Department sponsors future demonstration programs involving new or novel equipment, It should encourage the use of a prototype to ensure, to the extent possible, that the equipment ~111 perform as anticipated. Future contracts should provide for price adJustments if the equipment IS not used to the degree planned. (See p 22.) AGENCYACTIONS AND UNRESOLVEDISSUES The Department agreed with GAO's flndlngs and proposals and on Decem- ber 21, 1970, the Agency issued a policy statement (FRA 4400.9) which provided for adopting the GAO proposals In sponsoring future demonstra- tions (See p 22 ) MATTERSFOR CONSIDERATIONBY THE CONGRESS Members of the Congress have expressed Interest in the reasons for the delays in the start of the Metroliner and Turbo-Train demonstrations and in the current status of these proJects 3 CHAPTEX1 INTRODUCTION -- The General Accounting Offlce has revlewed selected as- pects of the two high-speed passenger-train demonstratxon proJects of the Federal Rallroad Admlnlstratlon (Agency), Department of Transportation The demonstration trains are operated by the Penn Central Transportation Company (Rail- road) between New York City and Boston and between Washlng- ton and New York City The Agency 1s responsible, however, for the management of the proJects This report contains our observatrons on the conduct and current status of the two proJects The scope of our review 1s described on page 23. The Agency was created wlthln the Department of Trans- portatlon when It was establlshed on April 1, 1967 The Agency comprises (1) the Bureau of Rallroad Safety, trans- ferred from the Interstate Commerce Commlsslon, which 1s re- sponslble for the safety of rallroad equipment and the hours of service of rallroad employees, (2) the Alaska RaIlroad, transferred from the Department of the Interior, which LS responsible for asslstlng In the development of the economy of Alaska, and (3) the Office of High-Speed Ground Transpor- tation, transferred from the Department of Commerce, which 1s responsible for carrying out the provlslons of the High- Speed Ground Transportation Act of 1965, as amended (49 U.S.C. 16311, as It relates to research and development on high-speed ground trans ortatlon systems and the conduct of demonstration programs H The High-Speed Ground Transportation Act of 1965 autho- rized the Agency to sponsor demonstration proJects to deter- mine the contrlbutlons that high-speed ground transportation modes could make to more efflclent and economical IntercIty 1 In this report, we have attributed all Government lnvolve- ment In the proJects to the Agency. All actlons taken prior to April 1, 1967, however, were the responslblllty of the Department of Commerce 4 transportation systems The two high-speed passenger-train demonstrations account for about $19 mLlllon of the $25 mll- lion obligated by the Agency for demonstration proJects dur- lng fiscal years 1966-70. The obJectIves of the two high-speed passenger-train demonstrations were to test the trains' operating character- lstlcs and to measure and evaluate public response to new equipment and to changes in various service factors The demonstration between Washington and New York City, which began on October 1, 1970, utilizes Metroliners--high-speed electric trains The demonstration between New York City and Boston utlllzes two three-car gas-turbine tralnsets, commonly referred to as Turbo-Trains (See photographs of trains on pp. 7 and 8.1 Two types of rail passenger trains were selected for conducting the demonstrations, because of the different con- dltlons on the routes over which each type of train would operate The route between Washington and New York City was fully electrified but the route between New York City and Boston was not and thereby prohlblted the Metroliners from operating all the way to Boston Further, the route between New York City and Boston contained numerous curves and draw- bridges that prohlblted attainment of high speeds with the Metroliner or conventional equipment. The Turbo-Trains are designed to attain higher speeds than conventional equlp- ment, especially on curved track, wlthout requlrlng substan- teal improvements In the roadbed The Turbo-Trains are ca- pable of operating at speeds of about 170 miles per hour (mph) The Metroliners can operate at speeds of about 150 m p.h Although the Agency Initiated the demonstration proJ- ects, the Railroad and the suppliers of the Metrollners-- Budd Company, Electric Corporation, and,General, Electric Comp essor or the Turbo-Trains, the United Alrcraft Corporation, have incurred substantial ex- penditures in support of or In relation to the demonstration proJects As of October 1, 1970, the total estimated cost to the Government for the Metroliner demonstration was about $12 9 million The Railroad and its equipment suppliers have reported costs of over $60 mllllon In support of the 5 demonstration The Government IS paysng the entrre cost of the Turbo-Train demonstration, which, as of October 1, 1970, was estimated at about $6 4 mllllon The Government, how- ever, 1s leaslng the Turbo-Trains for about $1 1 million from Unlted Alrcraft Corporation which reported that It had Incurred expenditures of about $7.5 mllllon In the develop- ment of the Turbo-Trains The prlnclpal offlclals of the Department of Transpor- tation and Department of Commerce responsible for the admln- lstratlon of the actlvltles discussed In this report are llsted In appendix II 6 8 CHAPTER2 OBSERVATIONS ON THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE METROLINER AND TURBO-TRAIN PROJECTS The Metrolrner and Turbo-Tram demonstration proJects have not accomplLshed their objectrves on a timely basrs and have not been conducted as orlgrnally planned. Technl- cal problems encountered with the trains delayed the start of the proJects and prevented the contractors from marntaln- rng operatronal enough cars to run the number of round trips necessary to fully accomplrsh the projects' obJectives. The Metroliners and Turbo-Trains were an advancement of the state of the art,, No slmllar equipment had ever been constructed or used In regular passenger service In the United States,, In 1966 the Agency agreed to lease two Turbo-Trains being developed by the United Aircraft Corpo- ratlon*and authorized the Railroad to contract for the con- structlon of 50 Metroliners, without knowing whether the trains would be able to operate to the degree antrclpated for the demonstrations. In view of the slgnlflcant Govern- ment funds committed to the demonstrations, the Agency should have encouraged the development and testing of proto- types to provide greater assurance that later demonstra- tions could be carried out as planned. The Agency's contracts with the Railroad and with the lessor of the Turbo-Trains did not provide for a reduction In the amount of the contracts In the event the trains could not be used as planned. As the Agency did not know whether the trains would perform as antlclpated, a provl- slon should have been included In the contracts to protect the investment of the Government. The Department informed us, however, that a reduction of $500,000 In the amount of the contract had been negotiated with the Railroad In con- slderatlon of the fact that the Metroliner demonstration which began on October 1, 1970 (3 years after planned),was decreased In scope. No reduction has been made rn the pay- ments required under the contracts with United Aircraft Corporation for the lease and maintenance of the 9 Turbo-Trains, even though the scope of the demonstration was substantially reduced. Our more detalled comments on the admlnlstratlon of the demonstrations are contained rn the following sectlons of this chapter. 10 METROLINER DEMONSTRATION On April 15, 1966, the Agency awarded a contract to the Pennsylvania Rallroad Company-- now part of the Penn Central Transportation Company-- to conduct a high-speed passenger- traLn demonstration between Washlngton and New York City, a distance of 226 miles. The purpose of the demonstration was to test public re- sponse to Improved passenger rail transportation and to pro- vlde information on public response to varrous service fac- tors In lntercnty rail passenger service, such as changes In fare levels, faster, more convenient servrce, Improved tram informatlon, and improved baggage-handling facllltles. Con- ventlonal train equipment, as well as the new Metroliner equipment, was to be used to measure these service factors. Under the terms of the contract, the Railroad agreed to (1) upgrade and malntaln to certain speclflcatlons the road- bed and the facllltles between Washington and New York City, (2) procure at least 28, but no more than 50, electrically propelled rail passenger cars (Metrollners), and (3) assist In the conduct of the demonstration. The Agency was respon- sable for (1) assisting In the development and preparation of speclflcatlons for the Metroliners, (2) approving a con- tract for the manufacture of the rallcars and (3) consulting with the Railroad on the nature and extent of experlmental features of the demonstratron. Technical problems delayed the start of the demonstration At the time the contract was awarded, the Agency estl- mated that the demonstration would begin about October 1967 and run for 2 years. The Agency planned that the Metro- liners would make nine round trips dally between Washington and New York City and an addltlonal nine round trips dally between Philadelphia and New York City except Saturdays, Sun- days 9 and holidays, when reduced service would be provided. October 1967 was established as the anticipated start- ing trme because both the Agency and the Railroad felt that the most time-consuming task prior to the rnltlatron of the demonstration would be to upgrade the roadbed to accommodate 11 the higher speeds of the MetrolIners. The Metrollners, ac- cording to the contract, would be capable of operating at speeds of 150 m p.h. and of traveling between the two cltles In a maximum elapsed time of 3 hours, wrth four IntermedIate stops. The Railroad ordered the 50 Metrollners In May 1966 and they were to be dellvered rn an operative condltlon by September 30, 1967. In April 1966, the Railroad began upgradlng Its roadbed to provide for the safe operation of the Metrollners. A slg- nlflcant number of railroad crosstles were replaced, a sub- stantlal amount of continuous welded track was laid, and a maJor portion of the catenary wire--the overhead electric wire--was replaced. This work was substantially completed in October 1967, but the Metrollners were not dellvered be- cause of technical problems which arose as manufacturing progressed, prlmarlly because of the sophlstlcated nature of the equipment. The maJor technical problems which delayed delivery of the Metroliners are presented below. 1. Pantograph-catenary rnteractlon. The ablllty of the pantograph-- the power collection device on top of the raIlcars-- to conduct electrlcal current from the catenary wire to the rallcars at high speeds had not been determined prior to the time the Metrollner was being tested. Th1.s problem was solved during the testing of the trains. 2. Use of two propulsson-braklng systems for the Metro- liners The Railroad, with the Government's concur- rence, required the rallcar manufacturer to use propulsion-braklng systems from each of two suppll- ers. Unantlcspated interfacing problems arose when rallcars having one system were joined with rallcars having another system. These compatlblllty problems were solved during the testing of the trains. 3. Dynamic-braklng system: In addltlon to air brakes, dynamic brakes-- brakes using electrical current-- were required on all the Metroliners. Dynamic brakes were necessary as a safety precaution to pre- vent overheating of traLn wheels as a result of brak- rng at high speeds using only air brakes. The dynamic-braking system provided by one supplier did 12 not meet the specrfrcatrons Included In the contract for the constructron of the rarlcars. The problem was resolved by rncreasrng the use of the arr brakes over that anticipated. It should be noted that the trams ~7111 stop wrthln the distance specrfred, us- rng both dynamic and air brakes or air brakes alone. 4. Short-clrcurted substations: The Metroliners short- crrculted the Railroad substations--the point at whrch electrical current IS transferred from a higher voltage level to the ll,OOO-volt catenary wire--by drawing more electrlclty than the substa- trons could produce. The problem was solved by mod- rfyrng the substatrons to permit the Metroliners to draw sufflclent electrical current. Pending the Railroad's ability to maintain enough Metro- liners rn an operative condrtlon to start the demonstration, the Agency authorized the Railroad to use the available MetrolIners In regular passenger service. On January 16, 1969, the Rarlroad placed SIX Metroliners In regular passen- ger service between FTashlngton and New York City. The ser- vice began with one train of six Metroliners making one round trip dally. During the operation of the train under normal service condltlons, the Metroliners encountered addltronal technlcal problems with the electrical and propulsion sys- tems. Each Metroliner has approximately 3,000 electronic components which require a high level of maintenance to pre- vent equipment failure. The problems encountered with the propulsion system were concerned prlmarlly with overheating of the trains' transformers and gear boxes. The start of the demonstration was delayed by the m- ability of the Railroad to upgrade and maintain the track to the contract specifications m addition to the technical problems encountered wrth the trams. Agency officials In- formed us that the contract had been amended to delete the precise track specifications and to substitute, therefore, a mlnirnum level of track maintenance work by the Railroad during the demonstration period. The maintenance work will Include installing additional continuous-welded rail and repairs such as resurfacing tops of rail-heads and renewing railroad crosstles. 13 Status of the MetrolIner demonstration Although the technxal problems with the Metcollners have not been resolved, the demonstration began on Octo- ber 1, 1970, and, under the contract with the RaIlroad, 1.5 scheduled to run for 2 years. The demonstration is to be made with seven round trips dally between Washington and New York City Instead of the more extended service origl- nally planned. (See p. 11.1 At th e start of the demonstra- tlon the Railroad had accepted 49 of the 50 Metroliners; one MetrolIner was used for spare parts, The Railroad by letter dated April 6, 1970, advised the Secretary of Transportation that a research and development program should be undertaken Immediately to overcome the technical problems of the Metroliners. The Railroad sug- gested that two of the Metroliners be used as prototypes to determlne remedies for known deficiencxes and potentral weaknesses not fully apparent. The Railroad suggested also that the remedies be applied to four additional Metroliners which would be used as prototypes under actual service con- ditions. Data from the prototype operation would then be used to modify the remaining fleet of Metroliners. The Railroad estimated that the total cost of this pro- gram would be about $15 mllllon and stated that such a pro- gram was necessary to avoid the threat of total failure of the proJect. As of November 30, 1970, the Agency was nego- tiating contracts with Westinghouse Electric Corporation and General Electric Company for go-day studies of Metro- loner technical problems. The Railroad's proposal is being held in abeyance pendlng the results of the studies, Federal costs The Agency's contract with the Railroad provided for a Government contrlbutlon of $9.6 million for the conduct of the demonstration. Beginning in August 1967, the amount provided In the contract was Increased to about $11 million by contract amendments to provide for improvements to sta- tion facilities, nncludlng the construction of one new sub- urban station, the necessary track and electrical work for a second suburban station, and grade-crossmg protection along the demonstration route. 14 The Agency entered into several other contracts for the preliminary design of the Metroliners, collection of reve- nue data, auditing, a computer simulation of rail opera- tions, terminal unprovements, and construction of the sta- tion facility for the second suburban station. The Government's cost for the demonstration project, as provided for in the basic contract with the Railroad, was based, in part, on the expected use of the Metroliners. (See p0 ll*> The Department has informed us that, although not provided for in the contract, a reduction of $500,000 in the amount of the contract has been negotiated with the Railroad because the trains cannot be used to the extent planned. In our opinion, the $500,000 reduction does not appear significant when compared with the remaining con- tract cost of $10.7 million for the demonstration and the substantial reduction in the use of the Metroliners during the demonstration period. A summary of the Government's total estimated costs for the Metroliner demonstration project as of October 1, 1970, is presented on the following page. 15 Estimated Descrlptloq cost Contract for operation of demonstration $ 9,600,OOO Contract addltlons. Improvements to exlstlng stations $ 281,295 Pop-out windows for rail cars 4,000 Grade-crossing protection 14,000 Data for computer slmulatlon of rail operations 45,251 Suburban stations' Lanham, Maryland 1,051,594 Woodbrldge, New Jersey 204,111 Total addjtlons 1,600,251 Less negotiated contract reduction -500,000 Contract as amended 10,700,251 Other contracts. Design rallcars 100,000 Collection of revenue data and audit 36,785 Computer slmulatlon of rail operations 125,842 Improvements to exlstlng statlons 40,556 Suburban statlons: Lanham, Maryland 34,931 Woodbrldge, New Jersey - ._ Federal Railroad Admlnistratlon 608,886 Federal Hlghway Admlnlstratlon 516 ,495a Total other contracts 1,463,495 Antlclpated expenditures during demonstra- tlon Experrmental service changes 400,000 Terminal improvements 150,000 Grade-crossing improvements. Federal Railroad Admlnlstratlon 61,000 Federal Highway Admlnlstratlon 150,000 Total antlclpated expendl- tures 761,000 Total, Government costs $12,924,746 aSectlon 11 of the Federal-Ald Highway Act of 1968 authorizes the Federal Hlghway Admlnlstratlon to purchase land and construct parking facllltles adJacent to Federal-aid highways 1.f such faclll- ties are served by a mass-transit commuter system. Funds are being provided by the Federal Highway Admlnlstratlon for construction of a parklng faclllty for rail commuters at the WoodbrIdge statlon. 16 Under the terms of the contract, the Rallroad 1s re- qulred to reimburse the Government for its costs If the Railroad's additional revenues from the demonstration ex- ceed Its addltlonal operating costs. The contract provides for payment to the Government of an amount equal to one half of the excess of income over the operating costs up to the Government's costs of $10.7 million under the contract, as amended. Since the demonstration did not start until October 1, 1970, the amount of the Government's investment that will be recovered is unknown. Suburban stations So that more convenrent service may be provided during the demonstration, the Government agreed to partlclpate in the cost of constructing two new suburban stations. The stations are located outside Washington In Lanham, Maryland, at the Junctron of the CapltaL Beltway and the Railroad's main line and outside New York City in Woodbridge, New Jer- sey, at the Junction of the Garden State Parkway and the RaIlroad's main line. The States of Maryland and New Jer- sey and Prince Georges County m Maryland agreed to partlc- lpate In the cost of constructing the stations. The total estimated cost of constructing the stations 1s about $4.2 mllllon, ofwhrch the Government has agreed to contri- bute $2.4 mllllon. The station In Lanham, Maryland, was opened to servrce on March 16, 1970. As of October 1, 1970, two Metroliners and four conventional New York-bound trains and four Metro- liners and four conventronal Washmgton-bound trams stop at the Lanham station. The station m Woodbrldge, New Jer- sey, ~111 not open for service until about June 1971. The completion of the Woodbridge station has been delayed be- cause of a change in the original design of the station that was necessary to provide a larger faclllty to accommo- date the commuter traffic and because of the heavy volume of rail traffic at the statron's location that prevents taking any section of track out of service for an extended perrod of time. Prince Georges County, Maryland, will own the station burlding at Lanham and wrll lease the parking lot from the State. The Railroad will own the platforms and pedestrian tunnel, The Woodbridge station ~111 be owned entirely by the State of New Jersey. 17 TURBO-TRAIN DEHONSTRATION To test public reaction to improved interclty service and to test the operating characteristics of gas-turbine powered Turbo-Trains, the Agency entered into contracts with the United Aircraft Corporation and with the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad (NHRR) to permit the use of Turbo-Trains over its shoreline route between Boston and New York City. In January 1966, the Agency entered into a contract with the United Aircraft Corporation for the lease of two three-car Turbo-Trains for 2 years for about $1.2 million. In addition, the Agency agreed to provide about $250,000 for the cost of tests considered necessary by the Agency to de- termine whether the Turbo-Trains met the specifications set forth in the lease contract. Among the tests performed were brake tests and stop-distance tests. Although the Turbo- Trains satisfactorily passed these tests by December 1968, the trains, as accepted, did not meet the ride-quality and noise-level specifications. As a result, the lease costs were reduced by $98,000. In February 1967, the Agency entered into a contract with Unlted Aircraft Corporation to service and maintain the Turbo-Trains for a 2-year period (corresponding to the period of the lease) for about $2 million and for safety and comfort modrfications to the Turbo-Trains for about $326,000. Service and maintenance of the trains included cleaning of the interior and exterior, fueling, furnishing of spare parts, and providing a maintenance facrllty to accomplish these tasks, The Agency contracted also with United Air- craft Corporation for the availa3ility of the Turbo-Trains for testing and training prior to the start of the lease pe- riod. The contracts with United Aircraft Corporation provided that, during the 2-year lease period which began October 22, 1968, the Agency would make fixed monthly lease and mainte- nance payments of about $47,000 and $40,000, respectively. The monthly payments were established, in part, on the ba- sis of anticipated use of the trains; however, the contracts did not provide for a reduction in the payments in the event the trains could not be used to the degree anticipated. 18 Although technical problems resulted In a srgnlflcant reductron In the use of the trains compared with the planned utilization, the Agency pald the fixed monthly lease and maintenance payments whrch, as of October 1, 1970, totaled about $1,085,000 and $924,000, respectively. The Agency entered Into contracts with NHRR for (1) lm- proving and malntainlng certain portlons of the roadbed be- tween Woodlawn, New York--the point at which the trains op- erate at slower speeds in and out of Grand Central Station In New York City--and Boston, (2) additional testing of the Turbo-Trains, (3) tram' lng of NHRR personnel In the opera- tion of the train, and (4) Insurance on the Turbo-Trains. The Railroad acquired NHRR on January 1, 1969, and under contract with the Agency operated the Turbo-Trains during the demonstratson. The contract provided for the Agency to share equally In any Increase In the total passen- ger revenue from shoreline operations resulting from opera- tion of the Turbo-Trains. An Agency offlclal informed us, however, that, because of the operating schedule of the trains, no recovery of revenue was expected. Because NHRR was In bankruptcy at the time the demon- stration was planned in 1965, the Agency 1s paying the total cost of the demonstration. Prior to the decision to extend the demonstration period (see p. 211, the Agency estimated the cost of the demonstration to be $6.4 mllllon. 19 Technical problems delayed and curtailed the demonstration When contracting for the lease of the Turbo-Trains in January 1966, the Agency planned that the trains be de- livered about 10 months later, with the demonstration pro- gram to begin shortly thereafter. No specific date was set for the start of the demonstration. Because of engineering and construction problems, the trains were not accepted un- til October 21, 1968--approximately 23 months after the scheduled delivery date. These problems concerned primarily the ride quality and noise level of the trains. As previ- ously stated, the lease costs were reduced because the trains did not meet the contract specifications for ride quality and noise level. Shortly after the Railroad acquired NHRR, it requested the Agency to provide for additional testing of the braking capabilities of the Turbo-Trains. The Railroad informed the Agency that the previous tests had not been satisfactory for its purposes and had not been witnessed by Railroad em- ployees who were currently responsible for train operation. In February and March 1969, the Agency conducted a series of stop-distance and braking tests to the satisfaction ofthe Railroad. The estimated costs of these additional tests was about $30,000. The demonstration began on April 8, 1969, with one Turbo-Train making one round trip daily between New York City and Boston. Although it was planned that each Turbo- Train would make two round trips daily between New York City and Boston, technical problems with the trains resulted in the demonstration consisting primarily of one Turbo-Train making one round trip daily and the other train being used for backup purposes in the event of equipment failure. The technical problems were concerned primarily with the reli- ability of the trains' gear boxes, which resulted In in- creased maintenance and which prevented the lessor from en= suring the availabllity of both trains. The Agency anticipated spending about $300,000 for ex= perimental service changes designed to measure public reac- tion to improved Intercity service; however, the equipment 20 failures prevented operation of the Turbo-Trains to the ex- tent necessary to conduct the experimental service. In addition, the Railroad would not increase the speed of the Turbo-Train to enable it to make two daily round trips because the Railroad felt that the roadbed and numer- ous grade crossings between New York City and Boston made it unsafe to operate the trains at higher speeds. The trains were operated at about 100 m.p.h., although they were cap- able of speeds up to about 170 m.p.h. The Agency antici- pated spending about $850,000 for grade-crossing and right- of-way improvements, but these improvements were held in abeyance pending action by the Congress on the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1970 (Public Law 91-605, approved Decem- ber 31, 1970) which provides for the elimination of all grade crossings along the route of both demonstrations. The limited Turbo-Train demonstration was scheduled to end October 22, 1970. On October 12, 1970, the Secretary of Transportation announced that the demonstration would be ex- tended on a month-to-month basis, pending negotiations for further use of the trains. In addition, the Agency autho- rized the Railroad to extend the insurance coverage on the Turbo-Trains through October 2, 1971, at a premium of $47,520. As of November 30, 1970, the Agency was negotiat- ing with the United Aircraft Corporation for additional use of the Turbo-Trains and had authorized the Corporation to renew its lease for the maintenance facility at Providence, Rhode Island. Because of continuing technical problems with the trains' gear boxes, which materially affect the serviceabil- ity of the Turbo-Trains, it appears that any long-term ex- tension of the demonstration without resolving these prob- lems would contribute little toward providing the public with the degree of improved service which the Agency antici- pated would be provided by the Turbo-Trains, In addition, unless the Turbo-Trains can be used to provide further im- proved service, it is questionable whether an extension of the demonstration will provide the Agency with any further beneficial data on public reaction to the service provided or on the operating characteristics of the Turbo-Trains. 21 CJMPTER 3 GAO PROPOSALS AND AGENCY COMMENTS We proposed that the Secretary of Transportation (1) In sponsoring future demonstration projects lnvolvlng new or novel equipment, encourage the use of prototypes to deter- mine the operating characterlstlcs of the new equipment and thereby provide assurance, to the greatest extent possible, that the equipment ~111 be capable of meeting the program's objectives on a timely basis and (2) Include appropriate pro- vlslons In future contracts for the use of equipment to con- duct demonstrations that ~111 provide for adJustmentI of the contract price In the event the equipment does not perform as anticipated By letter dated September 28, 1970 (app. I>, the Assls- tant Secretary for Admlnlstratlon, Department of Transporta- tion, agreed with our flndlngs and stated that the Agency would adopt our proposals In sponsoring future demonstration projects. On December 21, 1970, the Agency issued a policy statement (FRA 4400.9) which provided for adoptlng the GAO proposals In sponsoring future demonstrations. 22 CHAPTER 4 SCOPE OF REVIEW Our review was conducted at the Agency's headquarters offlce In Washlngton, D.C. We dlrected our review to the planning for and admlnlstratlon of the two high-speed passenger-train demonstration projects. In revlewlng the admlnlstratlon of the proJects, we directed our attention to determlnlng (1) the reasons for the delay In the start of the demonstrations, (2) the reasons for the use of only one train to conduct the Turbo-Train demonstration, (3) the manner rn which the projects are achlevlng their intended purposes, and (4) the current status of the demonstration projects. Our review Included an examlnatlon of the con- tracts for the conduct of the demonstration prodects. We reviewed also legrslatlon, correspondence, and other records related to the proJects. In addltlon, we interviewed offl- clals of the Agency responsible for the conduct of the dem- onstration proJectsO 23 APPENDIXES 25 APPENDIX I Page 1 OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATlON WASHINGTON, D C 20590 ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR ADMINISTRATION September 28, 1970 Mr. Bernard Sacks Assrstant Dlrector Crvll Dlvlslon U.S. General Accounting Offxe 441 G Street, N. W. Washrngton, D. C. 20548 Dear Mr. Sacks- This is m reply to your letter of June 11, 1970, requesting our comments on a draft of a proposed report to the Congress entltled, "Review of Admlnlstratlon of Contracts for the High-Speed Ground Transportation Demonstration ProJects." We are provldlng our comments by reference to each of the [see GAO note, p 281 recommendations of the report, The report recommends that In future demonstratrons FRA encourage the development of a prototype of the equipment to be used, and that future demonstration contracts Include appropriate provlslons for the adjustment of the contract price If the equipment cannot be used to the degree antlclpated when the program began. rk [See GAO note, p 281 In answer to the [see GAO note, p. 281 recommendations, the FRA will encourage where approprxate, the testing of prototype equxpment prior to sponsoring future demonstrations that Involve new or novel equipment. Secondly, the FRA will include in future demonstration contracts appropriate provisions for the adJustment of the contract prxe if the equipment cannot be used to the degree anticipated when the program began. We have negotiated a $500,000.00 reduction in price with the Penn Central Transportation Company for changed condrtlons under the Metrollner Demonstration contract. 27 APPENDIX I Page 2 [See GAOnote ] We appreciate the opportunity afforded us to comment on your draft report. SIncerely, ziae-*. Alan L. Dean a GAO note. The deleted comments relate to matters which were dxscussed in the draft report but omltted from this flnal report. 28 APPENDIX II Page 1 PRINCIPAL OFFICIALS OF THE DEPARTMENTOF TRANSPORTATION AND THE DEPARTMENTOF COMMERCE RESPONSIBLEFOR THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE ACTIVITIES DISCUSSEDIN THIS REPORT Tenure of office From --TO SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION (note a>: John A. Volpe Jan. 1969 Present Alan S. Boyd Jan. 1967 Jan. 1969 SECRETARYOF COMMERCE (note b): Alexander B. Trowbridge (acting) Jan. 1967 Mar. 1967 John T. Conner Jan. 1965 Jan. 1967 UNDER SECRETARY OF COMMERCEFOR TRANSPORTATION: Alan S. Boyd June 1965 Jan. 1967 ADMINISTRATQR~ FEDERALRAILROAD ADMINISTRATION: Carl V. Lyon (actlng) July 1970 Present Reginald N. WhItman Feb. 1969 June 1970 A, Scheffer Lang May 1967 Jan. 1969 DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF HIGH-SPEED GROUNDTRANSPORTATION: wles B. Mitchell (acting) Dec. 1969 Present Edward J. Ward (acting) Ott, 1969 Dec. 1969 Robert A. Nelson Oct. 1965 Oct. 1969 29 APPENDIX II Page 2 PRINCIPAL OFFICIALS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND THE DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE ACTIVITIES DISCUSSED IN THIS REPORT (continued) aPosltion created by Department of Transportation Act (Public Law 89-670), dated October 15, 1966. b All functrons, powers, and duties of the Secretary of Com- merce under certain laws and provlsxons of law relating generally to railroads were transferred to and vested In the Secretary of Transportation on April 1, 1967, by the Department of Transportation Act. US GA0Wash.D C 30
Administration of Metroliner and Turbo-Train Projects
Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1971-01-27.
Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)