October Amtrak Report

1.       The Report is dated December 3, 2015 but not posted until today (December 23). It should have been posted weeks ago.

2.       The month was mixed. While the bottom line was better than what was budgeted, ridership continues to lag behind the comparable period of last year.

3.       For the month, Amtrak had a cash operating income of $1 million before interest expense. After interest and other non-operating expense was included,  there was a loss of $4.5 million. Amtrak is estimating that for the entire 2016 fiscal year cash appropriations of $251.3 million will be needed. This is much less than the operating appropriation of $288.5 million in the 2016 Omnibus Appropriations. On a GAAP basis, Amtrak lost $59.0 million plus $4.6 million in Non-Operating Expense. The October results were $9.9 million better than budget.

4.       17 product lines showed “operating surpluses” for the month of October. These were

Acela                                             $33.0 million

Northeast Regionals                  $20.8 million

Washington-Newport News    $  0.7 million

Carolinian                                    $  0.5 million

New Haven-Springfield             $  0.5 million       ( probably because so many of the shuttles were shut down during the month.)

Empire                                         $  0.4 million

Washington-Lynchburg            $  0.3 million

Washington-Norfolk                 $  0.3 million

Maple Leaf                                 $  0.3 million

Vermonter                                 $  0.2 million

Washington-Richmond            $  0.2 million

Ethan Allen                                 $  0.1 million

Cascades                                     $  0.1 million

Adirondacks                               $  0.1 million

Hoosier State                             $  0.1 million

NON-NEC Special Trains          $  0.1 million

Wolverines                                 >$  .0 million

5.       Cost Recovery was 103% and Food and Beverage recovery was 58.6%. On the other hand, some of this was the elimination of the diner on the Silver Star which is adversely affecting coach ridership on that train.

6.       Amtrak again did not include either an Engineering report nor the financial tables that it should list. 

7.       We have no knowledge of cash on hand nor the current debt balance.

8.       The Chief Mechanical Officers report shows that for FY2016, the goal is to overhaul 162 Amfleets, 85 Superliners, 25 Horizons, 14 Viewliners and 12 Surfliners. In October Amtrak overhauled 13 Amfleet, 8 Superliners, 3 Horizons, 1 Viewliner, and 2 Surfliner. The goals for overhauls when compared to FY2015 shows an increase in the number of Amfleets, a decrease in the number of Superliners and modest increases in the other categories.

9.       As previously mentioned, no Engineering report was given. This occurred last year as well and It was not until the Spring that the report reappeared. 

10.   Ridership for October was off 65,931 from last year. Two product lines were more than 10% improved over the same period in FY2015: Non-NEC Special Trains at 4,907.3% and the Lake Shore Limited at 12.4%. Most product lines were down.

11.   Capital Spending was authorized for $1.830 billion with 982.775 million in Engineering and $453.829 million in Mechanical. Still Amtrak is forecasting that $112.123 million of this authorized amount will not be spent. Actual spending for October was $88.857 million with Gateway (Concrete Shell under 11th Avenue) at $1.731 million, Acquisitions at $0.031 million and ADA Expenditures at $1.9 million.

12.   Employment at Amtrak grew by 141 to 20,565.

13.   There have been a number of reports issued. The FRA has released their draft Tier I environmental impact statement for comment. The Southern Rail Commission has identified five alternatives to service partially or fully between Orlando and New Orleans as well as some alternatives between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Also released was the preliminary EIS for the Baltimore tunnel alternatives. Meanwhile, gasoline prices continue to drop. The station that I normally go to listing regular at $1.959 and others in the area are as low as $1.919. A result has been an explosion in the number of new automobiles being sold nationally  and the miles driven. We also know that Amtrak ridership for November 2015 was off compared to the previous year. I would expect Amtrak to release the November report shortly after the 1st of the year.


Steve Musen

Rhode Island representative to NARP’s Council of Representatives