Federal Actions Needed To Retain Essential Defense Rail Service

Gao ID: PLRD-83-73 May 20, 1983

GAO examined the Department of Defense's (DOD) and the Department of Transportation's (DOT) efforts to: (1) maintain minimum levels of rail service at defense installations; and (2) identify and correct rail deficiencies.

Despite the conclusions of a DOD study which determined that the condition of network and branch rail lines was satisfactory for national defense, GAO found that the number of military installations confronted with the potential loss of rail service is growing and that there may be a need for congressional action to ensure that minimum essential rail service is retained for mobilization needs. Although DOD is spending millions of dollars to improve rail capabilities at its installations, DOD cannot be assured that the rail network will move the required defense materiel and equipment during mobilization. GAO believes that the case-by-case basis by which DOD presently solves its maintenance service problems on branch lines could prove costly and ineffective in the long run. GAO also believes that DOD must determine the minimum amount of rail capability needed and routinely explore the alternatives and their costs with DOT. GAO found that: (1) the data on transportation movement capability reported by installations contained conflicting information; (2) some planned projects, if funded, would result in capabilities beyond what the services estimate would be needed during mobilization; and (3) a DOD concept of using motor convoys as a method of moving equipment has not been subject to extensive analysis and testing. Consequently, its feasibility and practicality for long distance transportation during mobilization are uncertain.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

Director: Henry W. Connor Team: General Accounting Office: National Security and International Affairs Division Phone: (202) 275-4141

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