September Amtrak Report

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

1) The report date is December 1, 2012 and posted around the 3rd of December. This is a month late. Because auditing has been finalized, some figures could change when the annual report is published.

2) September while setting a new record for ridership did not meet budget expectations. The cash flow from operations was negative in that the outgo after eliminating depreciation and other non-cash items was more than the revenues received.

3) The GAAP operating loss for the entire year, $1,186.3 million was $115.1 million worse than budget and $5.4 million worse than predicted in the August report. The cash operational lost was $388.7 million or $7.6 million worse than the forecast.

4) Oregon and New York remain unsigned for its corridors services joined by Illinois. Washington, Maine and North Carolina have signed their agreements.

5) The yearly GAAP loss of $1,186.3 million was a $64.9 million improvement over FY 2011. On a cash only basis, the $388.7 million was $68.8 million better than the $457.5 million needed in FY2011.

6) Seven product lines ran for a profit for the entire year: Acela at $206.5 million; Northeast Regional’s at $72.5 million; Washington-Newport News at $3.8 million, Washington-Lynchburg at $3.7million; NEC Specials at $3.2 million, Non-NEC Specials at $1.2 million and the Carolinian at $0.8 million. Ethan Allen would have shown a profit is OPEB (Other Post Employment Benefits) were eliminated and the Pere Marquette had a very small loss.

7) Amtrak employment dropped another 26 employees from August to 19,871.

8) Cash on hand at the end of the fiscal year was $218.9 million, an increase of $23.6 million. Restricted cash was $8.13 million down $19,000 from the end of August 2012.

9) Interest rates have not improved, and despite the increased interest expense of the financing of the Electric Locomotives, overall net interest paid in FY2012 was $80.4 million or $12.9 million better than FY2011.

10) Long Term debt during the month of September increased by $24.557 million because of a $29.265 million increase in the RRIF (railroad rehabilitation and improvement financing load) and $2,000 in the Equipment and other debt. However, capital leases were reduced by $4.986 million and current maturities decreased by $5.264 million. Total debt therefore increased to $1.556 billion.

11) While authorized spending increased by $2.182 million, actual spending was down. For the year, Amtrak spent $909,267,000 or $202,889,000 under budget. In terms of actual spending, Major Bridges was $49.284 million and equipment acquisitions were $9.522 million. The later was only $116,000 more than the amount reported spent in August.

Amtrak had put out to bid 40 additional cars to expand the Acela Fleet. There was only one bid, and Amtrak rejected that one as too expensive.

12) As announced earlier, ridership in FY 2012 set another new record of 31,240,565 an increase of 1,053,832 over last year.

13) The list of product lines of 10% or more over last year increased back to seven. Those seven were the NEC Special Trains (up 122.1%) Piedmont (up 16.2%), Empire Builder (up 15.8%) Washington-Lynchburg (up 14.1%), Texas Eagle (up 12.8%); Washington-Newport News (up 11.9%) and just making the list Ethan Allen at  up 10%.

14) Engineering added 1 turnout, 1 retimbered bridge deck, and 16.5 miles of Signal Cable. For the entire year, there were 21 turnouts replaced, 6 bridge decks retimbered, 3 Bridge Decks converted to ballast, 10.8 miles of catenary renewed, 1 transformer replaced and 27.6 miles of new signal cable.

15) Amtrak Mechanical overhauled 16 more Amfleets in September (for an annual total of 146), 8 additional Superliners (totaling 92), 0 horizons (but they had already done 24) 3 more Heritage cars (increasing to 29 for the full year), 1 Viewliner added (year was 12) and 2 more Surfliners (also totaling 12 for the entire year). Amtrak also overhauled 18 Electric Locomotives during the entire year.

16) While ridership was lost during Hurricane Sandy and the week afterwards, November ended on a high note when Amtrak set a new record for Thanksgiving.

Gasoline however continues to decline slightly so ridership in 2013 is most likely to be around the same as FY2012.

As of this time, there has been no resolution of the fiscal cliff, which would impact Amtrak appropriations.

STEVE MUSENRhode Island to the National Association of Railroad Passengers' Council of Representatives