October Amtrak Report

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

1) The report date is January 15, 2013 and posted the next day, over a month late. Unlike the September report, no auditing was necessary, and this should have been published weeks ago.

2) Despite Hurricane Sandy, Amtrak still set a ridership record for an October. Had the hurricane not occurred there would have been much better results from an operations point. We can expect that November will have even bigger impact, although we also know that Thanksgiving that month set a record for ridership.  However the impact of the storm was felt in the most profitable of Amtrak's services so it is no surprise that budget goals were not met.

3) The GAAP operating loss for the month was $99.8 million or $18.1 million worse than October 2011. The cash operational loss for October 2012 was $27.8 million after subtracting depreciation and OPEBs (Other Post Employment Benefits). This compares to $22.5 million for October 2011.  The forecast is for Amtrak to have a cash loss of $445.0 million for all of fiscal 2013.

4) New York, California, Oregon, Michigan, Maine & Oklahoma still have unsigned contracts for corridor services. Maine was not listed last month as unsigned but was in the August report.

5) Six product lines showed profits for the month in excess of $50,000: Acela $24.0 million, Northeast Regional $14.0 million, NEC Specials $0.5 million, Washington-Lynchburg $0.3 million, Washington-Newport News $0.2 million, and Piedmont $0.1 million. Three other lines had very slight profits under $50,000: Non-NEC specials Keystone and Kansas City-St. Louis. The Keystones breaking even is a big surprise.

6) Amtrak employment increased by 46 employees in October to 19,917.

7) Cash on hand on October 31, 2012 was $299.9 million, an increase of $81.0 million from September 30, 2012. Restricted cash was $8.094 million or $36,000 less than a month ago.

8) The federal DOT paid off a number of capital leases, so the net effect of interest was a negative figure. Allowing for the budgeted expense, interest paid for the month was $21.5 million better than budget. This will not be the case next month.

9) Because the DOT payments and other debt paid off long term debt decreased by $90.788 million of which $97.778 million was in capital leases and offset by increases of $6.989 million in the RRIF Loan (Railroad rehabilitation and improvement financing loan) AND $1,000 in equipment and other debt. Current maturities decreased by $11.776 million. Total debt is now at $1.453 billion, a decrease of $102.564 million from last month.

10) Amtrak authorized capital spending was set at $1,223.964 million of which $1,189.590 million is expected to be actually spent. The following departments have authorized spending of:

Department                                    Authorized Spending (mil)            Notes

Engineering                                    $554.764

Mechanical                                    $454.271

Environmental                                    $4.870

Police & Safety                                    $62.407

Transportation                                    $7.989

Finance & Treasury                        $3.149

Amtrak Technology                        $36.889

Procurement                                    $0.71

Real Estate                                    $14.476        30th St. garage reconstruction

NEC IID                                    $15.361

Marketing & sales                        $17.274

Major Bridge Special Project            $17.274           Presumed to be Niantic River Bridge

Acquisitions                                    $0.065             New electric locomotives being built

Actual spending in October: $48.358 million. Major Bridges: $2.780 million; Acquisitions: $0.065 million. Most of the acquisition money will be spent on the new electric locomotives being built.

11) Ridership in October was 2,596,283, an increase of 43,069 over October 2011.

12) The list of product lines of 10% or more is very short. The San Joaquin was up 12.6%.

13) Engineering added four turnouts, converted 1 bridge deck to ballast, and installed one new transformer.

14) Mechanical has a goal for the entire FY2013 of overhauling 151 Amfleets, 93 Superliners, 20 Horizons, 7 Heritage Diners, 13 Viewliners and 14 Sur

fliners. In October they overhauled 9 Amfleets, 7 Superliners, 2 Heritage Diners, 1 Viewliner and 1 Surfliner. Wilmington has overhauled 16 Electric Locomotives for the year of which one was done in October.

15) Congress jumped the fiscal cliff but new chasms remain. A temporary three-month rise in the debt ceiling is expected, but sequestration remains and Congress still has to appropriate for the remainder of FY2013. Fortunately Amtrak has the cash resources to carry it a couple of months beyond the end of funded appropriation (March 28, 2013).

Easing the load was the emergency appropriations by Congress for Hurricane Sandy, which added $32 million for operating expenses plus additional money for capital


Those capital repairs include raising the platform in the Meadow Lands (NJ) where its electrical distribution system is located and bidirectional signaling in its tunnels under the East River in New York City. Fortunately, Amtrak lost no passenger equipment as a result of the storm.

Amtrak has in conjunction with the California High Speed Railroad Authority a request for proposals for new high speed train sets capable of running up to 220 mph.


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