January Amtrak Report

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

1) The report is dated March 1, 2012 and was posted that day. It is actually early. Certain budget information, however, was not available and supposedly will be restored in the February report.

2) Ridership in January 2013 exceeded January 2012 setting another record for January.

3) We do not know the GAAP operating loss since that was part of the information that was not available.

4) We do not know if any other states signed contracts for their corridor trains.

5) Only six product lines are showing profits for the first four months after covering all of their expenses:  Acela  $79.3 million, Northeast Regional, $45.0 million, NEC Specials $2.1 million, Washington-Lynchburg $1.4 million, Washington-Newport News $1.3 million, Washington-Norfolk $0.2 million, and Cascades $0.1 million. The Hiawatha and Carolinian covered all expenses except for OPEB (Other Post Employment Benefits) and the Ethan Allen almost made this category. If you count Virginia as part of an expanded NEC almost all of the profitable activity takes place on the NEC Spine and extensions to the south.

This is good news in that the Commonwealth of Virginia is now willing to support with State Funds additional frequencies there. In a few years, we should see North Carolina trains becoming consistently profitable also.

6) Amtrak employment increased by 81 employees in January to the EXACT SAME figure that existed in NOVEMBER. Employment is again at 19,937.

7) Cash on hand on January 31st 2013 was $274.3 million, a decrease of $45.3 million from December 31, 2012. Restricted cash was $7.657 million, an increase of $195,000.

8) Interest paid was another figure, which was not available in this report.

9) In January, long term debt decreased by $44.229 million of which $45.545 million was in capital leases and $0.140 million in Equipment and other debt offset by an increase of $1.456 million in the RRIF (Railroad Improvement Financing) Loan. Current maturities increased by $17.601 million. Total Debt is now $1.397 billion a decrease of $26.628 million from last month.

The RRIF loan was capitalization of the interest accrued in the month rather than a fresh advance.  The long-term debt had a number of accounts become payable within a year from now, causing them to be reclassified as current maturities rather than long-term debt.

10) Authorized capital spending was increased by $9.404 million of which $7.372 million was in the Engineering Department and $2.002 million was in Mechanical. Of the $1,245.963 million authorized, it is projected that only $1,169.092 million will actually be spent in FY2013.

This is still an increase of $19.791 million over the previous projection in projected spending. Engineering is expected to spend $16.118 million more, Mechanical $5.401 million more and Transportation $2.486 million more offset by a decrease of $4.358 million in Emergency Management (formerly Police & Safety).

In the subprograms $2.146 million less is projected to be spent on Major Bridge Special Projects (presumed to be the Niantic River Bridge) and $1.631 million more in Acquisitions.

In terms of actual capital spending  YTD is now $255.650 million. Special Bridge Program $10.086 million, and Acquisitions $31.060 million (increase of $30.094 million).  Amtrak obviously made some down payments on either the long distance train order or the electric locomotive order or some combination thereof.

11) Ridership for the first four months of FY2013 was 10,058,531, or 102,115 more than last year.

12) The list of product lines that have increased by more than 10% over the comparable period went down to only two. Coast Starlight was up 11.0 % and the San Joaquin was 10.9%.  While the brand new Norfolk to Washington train has no previous year to compare it is running 10.6% better than what was budgeted.

13) Engineering added 2 turnouts, 1 transformer, and 1.0 mile of new signal cable in January.

14) Mechanical overhauled 15 Amfleets, 7 Superliners, 1 Horizon, 2 Heritage Diners, 1 Viewliner, and 1 Surfliner.  Wilmington has overhauled 5 of the 16 Electric Locomotives that it is scheduled for the entire fiscal year.

15) Amtrak has still not issued its legislative request for FY2014 nor its 5 year business plan.  As stated in the previous report, Amtrak has to wait until the President files his budget, supposedly on April 8, 2013, to file the legislative request. Presumably the 5-year business plan would contain part of the legislative request so for the same reason it has not been published.

Amtrak has weathered the sequestration and figures it can maintain its entire system without cutting any frequencies this fiscal year. The extra money appropriated for the damages caused by Hurricane Sandy will be subject to sequestration.

The proposed Continuing Resolution to cover the remainder of FY 2013 is likely to extend the amounts in the first half of 2013 to the second half after making provision for the sequestration. There is no talk at the moment concerning Amtrak.

California has indicated that when (should?) the Merced-Bakersfield section of the High Speed Rail is up and running San Joaquin will run on both the existing route and the new High Speed route. This would indicate a large increase in the number of San Joaquin frequencies (Bakersfield-Emeryville and Bakersfield-Sacramento).


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