August Amtrak Report

I have read the August 2012 Report and these are the things I found interesting:

1) The August report date is November 1, 2012 and posted on the 3rd. This is very late and it cannot be blamed on Hurricane Sandy.

2) August was another good month. While it did not meet budget expectations {almost did}, the cash flow (after depreciation) resulted in Amtrak showing a slight profit for the month. We know now that Amtrak set a record for ridership for the entire FY2012 of 31.2 million (over a million better than FY2011).

3) For the first 11 months of FY2012 Amtrak's operating loss was $88.6 million worse than budget. The forecast for the entire year is $109.7 million worse than budget. The forecast is an improvement of $28.5 million over the forecast made in July. The cash operational loss is now projected at $380.1 million, which is an improvement of $30.4 million over last month. The $380.1 million is less than the $400 million in the Senate 2013 THUD Appropriations but more the $350 million in the house bill, and of course less than projected amount should the continuing resolution for 2013 be extended for the full year.

4) Oregon is not the only state with an unsigned contract with Amtrak for their corridor trains. Joining it are Washington, Maine, New York and North Carolina.

5) The GAAP loss for the year to date is $1,068.1 million, which is $72.6 million more than the same period in FY2011. We do not know what the cash only difference is but if we subtract depreciation of $607.5 million and OPEB (other post employment benefits) of $54.9 million from the GAAP this equals $405.7 million. Doing the same for YTD of August 2011 ($1,140.7 less $543.4 million depreciation less $52.6 million OPEB) yields a result of $544.7 million. This gives a presumed cash operating loss for FY 2012 YTD that is $139 million better than the previous year for the same period of time.

6) Nine product lines are running at a profit: Acela ($205.9 million) Northeast Regional’s ($94.1 million), Washington-Newport News ($4.2 million), Washington-Lynchburg ($3.6 million), NEC Special Trains ($2.8 million), Carolinian ($1.1 million), NON-NEC Specials ($1.0 million), Ethan Allen ($0.1 million), Pere Marquette (under $50,000 but still a positive figure).

7) Amtrak employment dropped slightly to 19,897 Employees.

8) Cash on hand at the end of August was $195.3 million, which is $103.9 million less than last month. Restricted cash is $8,149,000, which is $239,000 less than the previous month.

9) Interest rates are still at rock bottom. However despite this and the financing of the electric locomotives, interest expense for the year to date is $9.8 million less than last year and $6.3 million better than what was budgeted.

10) Long term debt increased slightly ($0.296 million) of this increase $0.295 was in capital leases and the remainder was in equipment and other debt. Current maturities remained the same. Total Debt is still $1.537 billion.

11) Authorized capital spending was unchanged from the previous month.

Forecast spending for FY2012 was sharply increased by $64.248 million. This was spread over almost all departments: Engineering ($34.569 million), Mechanical  ($50.832 million), Police & Safety ($1.858 million), Amtrak Technologies ($3.212 million), and Marketing & Sales ($2.679 million). There were also minor increases in most other departments. The sole decrease, $30.764 million in Finance & Treasury.

In the year to date, $803.340 million has been spent on Capital Projects. Major Bridge project (presumably Niantic River Bridge) has spent $44.106 million and Acquisitions $9.406 million. Acquisition spending, however, is way under their authorized levels.

12) Ridership in August 2012 set a new record for August and was the second best month (behind July 2012) in Amtrak's history. For the year to date, the total ridership has been 28,753,117.

13) The list of product lines of 10% or more over last year has shrunk by two to six. Those six are NEC Special Trains (up 140.3%), Empire Builder (up 17.0%), Piedmont (up 16.1%), Washington-Lynchburg (up 15.3%), Texas Eagle (up 13.6%) and Washington-Newport News (up 11.1%).

14) Engineering added 2 turnouts, 1 retimbered bridge deck, and 1.6 miles of signal cable.

15) Amtrak Mechanical overhauled 15 Amfleets, 10 Superliners, 2 Horizons, 2 Heritage, 2 Viewliners, and 1 Surfliner. The Horizons have now met the full 2012 goal of 24 cars. The Heritage cars lag far behind the year goal with others having a shot of reaching them.

16) While the September report is likely to be favorable, 2013 starts off with Super Storm Sandy severely impacting both October and November. While the high price of gasoline may resume its upward swing, for the time being prices have been dramatically going down.

Still service to Brunswick and Freeport, ME will give the Downeaster a good boost in November and the remaining months.  The extension to Norfolk VA in December will help also. Still 2013 will be a struggle if Amtrak is to set another record.


Rhode Island Representative to the National Association of Railroad Passengers' Council of Representatives