Amtrak’s inspector general says that 27 per cent of the US national passenger railroad’s trains run late and that inefficiencies in the system result in the loss of millions of dollars, the Washington Post reports.

The report said that delays erode customer confidence and cost Amtrak millions in wasted fuel, labour,and maintenance, contributing to the railroad’s $171 million operating loss in 2018.

Delays are particularly common on Amtrak’s long-distance train routes, which use tracks not owned by the passenger railroad.

Fewer than half of these trains operate on schedule, with an average delay of 49 minutes.

Even a 5 per cent improvement in on-time operations could save the railroad $12 million, according to the inspector general.

More significant improvements could generate up to $42 million in revenues and save as much as $336 million in equipment and other cost savings, the report said.

“More reliable performance helps retain existing customers and attract new riders while reducing labor, fuel, and other operating costs,” said Jim Morrison, Amtrak’s assistant inspector general for audits.