February Amtrak Report

I have read the February 2013 report and these are the things that I found interesting.

1) The report is dated March 28, 2013 and posted by the 29th. This is very early, especially when you consider that February only has 28 days in it.

2) Because of the snowstorm and the fact that February this year had one less day than last year, Ridership did not set a record for the month.

3) Despite this, Amtrak revenues and expenses were better than budget.

4) Amtrak did not reveal if any other states signed contracts for their corridor trains. We do know that progress has been made in Pennsylvania towards saving all of their corridor services.

5) Snowstorms cancelling trains plus extra operating expense clearing tracks meant that the number of product lines showing profits for the first five months after covering all of their expenses shrank to five: Acela $96.9 million, Northeast Regionals $49.8 million; NEC Special Trains $2.7 million, Washington-Lynchburg $1.3 million and Washington-Newport News: $0.4 million. The Washington-Norfolk train covered all expenses except for OPEBs (Other Post Employment Benefits).

With better weather in the spring, I expect to see some improvement in this category as a couple of other trains climb back into the black.

6) Amtrak employment decreased by 27 employees in February.

7) Cash on hand on February 28, 2013 was $215.8 million a decrease of $58.5 million. Restricted cash was $7.612 million a decrease of $45,000.

8) Interest paid so far this year is $0.9 million better than budget and $25.4 million improvement over this point in FY2012.

9) In February, long term debt increased by $9.106 million. The RRIF Loan (Railroad Improvement Financing) increased by $15.281 while capital leases were reduced by $1,515 and Equipment and other debt by $4.660 million; current maturities due within a year increased by $1.059 million. Total debt is now $1.407 billion, an increase of $10.165 million from last month.

10) Authorized capital spending remained the same, however, only $1,140.091 million is projected to be spent, a reduction of $29.001 million from the January forecast. Engineering, accounts for most of this ($21.305 million), along with Environmental ($0.569 million), and Emergency Management ($14.980 million). Increased spending is now forecast for Mechanical ($6.584 million), Finance & Treasury ($0.306 million), and NEC IID ($1.000 million). As of February 28, 2013, $327.442 million had already been spent on Capital Projects.

In the subprograms I have been following, Major Bridges Special Project (which I am assuming to be just the Niantic River Bridge) is expected to spend an additional $4.032 million and Acquisitions $0.299 million. As for actual spending at the end of February, Major Bridges had spent $11.090 million so far this year and Acquisitions $32.447 million (which is an increase of $1.387 million since January 31, 2013).

11) Ridership for the first five months of FY2013 was 12,275,890 or 87,815 more than last year.

12) The list of product lines that have increased by more than 10% over the comparable period remains at 2: NON-NEC special trains at 13.3% and Coast Starlight at 10.8%.

13) Engineering added 0.9 miles of catenary renewal and 11.3 miles of Signal Cable.

14) Mechanical overhauled 12 Amfleet, 6 Superliners, 2 Horizons, 1 Viewliner and 1 Surfliner. Wilmington overhauled another electric locomotive bringing the yearly total to date to 6 of the 16 budgeted for the entire year

15) Amtrak issued a short form of its legislative request for FY2014. It is asking for a mere $2.65 billion (compared to the $1.4 billion it has been getting). The administration has not yet submitted its budget even though both the House and Senate have already passed theirs. Notable in Amtrak's request is a reduction in Operational Appropriations to $373 million and a reduction in the amount needed to service Debt to $212 million. However getting the capital investment out of Congress will be a major challenge.

While Amtrak was award some $80 million in storm damaged capital appropriation, it may not be able to accept this, since there is a string attached that requires Amtrak to forebear forever using Capital Appropriations for Operations.

For the remainder of FY2013 Amtrak will receive appropriations similar to the amounts it received in first half of FY2013. The sequestration for this year, being a sum that Amtrak Management believes it can handle without creating a crisis.


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