October Amtrak Report

I have read the October Report and these are the items I find interesting:

1) The report is dated December 16, 2014 and was posted on December 19, 2014. This is early for the first month of the fiscal year. However the report lacks two sections normally in the report and adds some graphs on delays for the individual freight railroads.

2) Ridership was up in October 2014 over October 2013 by 76,802. The total for the month was 2,702,622.  The gains are mostly on the NEC and state corridors, with the long distance trains affected by the huge delays in the summer.

3)Amtrak's operating ratio in October was 101% which is good, but not as good as October 2013.

Amtrak however was $2.6 million better than budget with a GAAP loss of $76.4. Net interest was $0.2 million more than budgeted. For the full fiscal year (2015) it is forecasting a cash loss of $293.4 million. This is more than the $250 million operating appropriation that Congress approved this December. (See the remarks at the end about the appropriation).

Food & Beverage Recovery was 54.7%.

On GAAP basis October 2014 was $13.67 million worse than October 2013.

4) The number of product lines with operating surpluses is now 12:

Acela                                     $30.6 million

Northeast Regionals            $19.2 million

Washington-Newport News   $0.7 million

Carolinian                                $0.3 million

Vermonter                               $0.3 million

Maple Leaf                              $0.3 million

Empire Service                       $0.3 million

Washington-Lynchburg          $0.2 million

Washington-Richmond          $0.2 million

Adirondack                             $0.1 million

Washington-Norfolk               $0.1 million

NEC Special Trains               $0.1 million

5) Six Product Lines had increases in October over the previous October in excess of 10%:

Carolinian                                      22.7%

Wolverine                                     15.6% 

Kansas City-St. Louis                  12.1%

Washington-Norfolk                     11.5%

Washington-Lynchburg               11.1%

California Zephyr                         10.7%

6) The financial results (Balance Sheet, Cash Flow, Profit & Loss Statement) were not published. This is possibly due to the FY2014 results not being audited so comparisons could not be made.

7) The Chief Engineer's report was another no show.

8) In October, the Mechanical Department overhauled 11 Amfleet, 12 Superliners, 2 Horizons, and 1 Viewliner.

9) The Capital Budget authorized spending at a total of $2.093 billion with $864.196 million for Engineering, $503.672 million for Mechanical, and $616.381 for NEC projects. However only $1.994 billion is forecast to be spent. One expects with the actual budget passed by Congress, the forecast will decline significantly.

$116.619 is forecast to spent on Acquisitions, $59.909 million on the Gateway projects (concrete casing under the Hudson Yards) and $51.4 million on ADA projects.

Actual spending so far is $80.416 million, with Gateway spending $5.353 million, Acquisitions 87 thousand and ADA $1.5 million.

10) Employment at Amtrak rose by 21 employees to 20,342.

11) Congress did pass a omnibus resolution that gave Amtrak $1,390 million for FY2015. $250 million is for operations and the remaining $1,140 million for capital expenses. Of this capital money at least $50 million must be spent on ADA projects, and no more than $175 million on debt servicing. In addition up to $50 million can be transferred to operating expense if necessary. So far Amtrak will need most of that $50 million. Whether or not it can spend $50 million on ADA projects is questionable, based on their track record. Amtrak's debt service was projected in another document at $150 million, so the net money available for capital projects other than ADA is significantly greater than last year.

One item that will consume capital will be the acceptance of new Viewliner equipment from CAF industries. 28 baggage cars are close to being accepted for revenue service, at which point one assumes that they will be paid for.

26 ACS Sprinter Electric Locomotives have definitely been received by Amtrak with most now in service. HHP-8s supposedly have been withdrawn. As a result, Amtrak does not seem to have budgeted any electric locomotive overhauls at Wilmington for the 2nd year in a row.

During the winter months, capacity on most of the long hauls have been reduced except for the holiday period. Full consists are expected to be resumed in March 2015.


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