December Amtrak Report

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

1) The report is dated the 8th of February 2013 and posted by the 13th of February. It is on time!

2) Ridership in December 2012 exceeded December 2011 so it probably was a record for December.

3) The GAAP operating loss for the first three months of FY2013 was $280.0 million, or $46 million worse than the same period in the previous fiscal year. The cash operating loss was $94.7 million after subtracting depreciation and OPEBS (Other Post Employment Benefits). This compares to $60.5 million using the same parameters for the comparable period of FY2012. The forecast is to have a cash loss of $425.3 million for all of FY2013, which is a $7 million improvement over the forecast at the end of November 2012.

4) California has signed a contract for their corridor trains. New York and Michigan remain unsigned.

5) Nine product lines are now showing profits for the first three months after covering all of their expenses:  Acela $63.1 million, Northeast Regional $41.6 million, Cascades $1.5 million, NEC Specials $1.5 million, Washington-Newport News $1.5 million, Washington-Lynchburg $1.2 million, Washington-Norfolk $0.3 million, Carolinian $0.1 million, and Chicago-St. Louis. The Keystone is slightly breaking even.  Two other product lines: The Downeaster and Kansas City-St. Louis covered all of their expenses except OPEBs. The Carolinian is an addition from last month as is the brand new service to Norfolk, VA. The Keystones are back in the black after lagging last month, and the Downeaster and Kansas City- St. Louis while not profitable like last month are still within striking distance.

The Cascades, however, may have benefited by the application previously unsigned contract money in October and money owed from the previous year was accrued to this year’s bottom line.  That line's profit margin is shrinking as the year goes on. The same thing may also account for the Downeaster, but there, the extension to Brunswick is certainly helping the bottom line.

6) Amtrak employment decreased by 81 employees in December to 19,856.

7) Cash on hand on December 31, 2012 was 319.6 million, an increase of $138.4 million from November 30, 2012. Restricted cash was $7.462 million a decrease of $645,000.

8) The payment of the capital leases by the Federal DOT in October is still causing net interest expense to be a negative figure of $3.4 million. This makes interest paid so far this fiscal year of $24.6 million better than budget and $25.5 million improved over the same period in FY 2012.

9) In December, long-term debt decreased by $18.975 million of which $16.841million was in Capital Leases and $11.180 million was in the Penn Station Mortgage offset by an increase of $8.646 million in the RRIF (Railroad Improvement Financing). Current maturities decreased by $5.041 million. Total debt is now at $1.424 billion a decrease of $24.016 million from last month.

10) Authorized capital spending was increased to $1.236 billion of which $1.149 billion is actually expected to be spent. The additional authorizations were $12.594 million in Engineering and $2.2 million in Transportation offset by $2.2 million decrease in Mechanical.

Therefore there is now an additional decrease of $6.470 million in projected capital spending for FY 2013. The following departments saw significant decreases in projected spending (over the projection in November): Mechanical $14.450 millio, Emergency Management $2.644 million, NEC IID $4.894 million, and Marketing & Sales $0.482 million. Increases, however, in projected spending were Engineering: $12.039 million, Transportation $3.284 million, and Real Estate (garage at 30th Street Station, Philadelphia) $0.618 million.

In the subprograms $1.483 million more is forecast for the special bridge program (presumably the Niantic River Bridge) and $15.110 million less for Acquisitions.

In terms of actual capital spending YTD is now $158.451 million. Special Bridge Program $7.703 million and Acquisitions: $0.966 million (increase of $0.668 million).

11) Ridership for the first three months of FY2013 was 7,760,484 or 32,682 more than the first three months of FY2012.

12) The list of product lines that have increased by more than 10% over the comparable period stayed at five:

NEC Special Trains: 142.5%, Piedmont: 12.2%, San Joaquin: $12.0%, Downeaster 11.0%, and the Wolverine 10.0 %. The Norfolk to Washington has no comparable ridership percentage being brand new but is doing quite well.

13) Engineering added 1 turnout and 8.1 miles of signal cable.

14) Mechanical overhauled 6 Amfleets, 4 Superliners, 1 Horizon, 1 Viewliner, and 1 Surfliner.  Wilmington has overhauled 3 of the 16 Electric Locomotives that it is scheduled to do for the entire fiscal year.

15) Amtrak should have issued its legislative request for FY2014 around the 1st of February. Also due soon is its five year business plan. Note: Amtrak cannot issue its legislative request until the President releases his on April 8, 2013.

Coming soon is sequestration, which Amtrak should be able to absorb (especially after receiving the emergency money from Sandy). Congress, however, still has to appropriate funds for the balance of FY2013 for the entire Federal Government


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