November Amtrak Report

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

1) The report is dated January 13, 3015 and posted the day after and is somewhat late for a posting. One section normally found in the report is still missing which I think I can explain when we get to that section. The individual freight railroad graphs showing their delays are still contained. Surprisingly, Union Pacific looks the best of the six.

2) Ridership was up again in November. For the fiscal year to date, the gain is 193,675. For the two months total, it is 5,370,206. Thanksgiving travel fell more into November than last year and accounts for some of the gain.

3) Amtrak's operating ratio for the first two months is now below 100% which means that after subtracting all non-cash items, Amtrak covered its expenses for that period, however, October and November are usually good months for the corporation with January and February being the worst.

Amtrak is for FY 2015, $22.9 million better than budget with a GAAP loss of $129.0 million. The corporation is forecasting that for the entire 2015 fiscal year a cash loss of $289 million. This is an improvement over the October forecast by $4.4 million, however, since the appropriation by congress for operating expenses is only $250 million; more good months are needed, if dipping into the $50 million emergency money contained in the capital appropriation is to be avoided.

Food & Beverage Recovery was 53.4%, which is slightly less than the previous month.

On a GAAP basis the first two months were $4.3 million worse than the first two month of last fiscal year.

4) The number of product lines with operating surpluses dipped to 10:

Acela                                               $60.8 million

Northeast Regional                        $45.3 million

Washington-Newport News           $ 1.5 million

Maple Leaf                                      $ 0.8 million

Washington-Lynchburg                  $ 0.6 million

Vermonter                                       $ 0.6 million

Carolinian                                        $ 0.4 million

Washington-Richmond                  $ 0.3 millon

Washington-Norfolk                       $ 0.3 million

Empire Service                              $ 0.1 million

Keystone, San Joaquins, Adirondack and Blue Water covered all of their costs except OPEBs, PRJs and their share of Amtrak IG.

5) Five Product Lines had increases in excess of 10% for the first two months over the previous same period a year earlier:

Carolinian                            +21.2%

Wolverine                            +16.3%

Washington-Norfolk            +13.1%

Washington-Lynchburg       +13.3%

California Zephyr                 +10.4%

6) The financial results (Balance Sheet, Cash Flow, Profit &Loss Statement) were not published. However the FY2013 audited results were posted along with a restated FY2012. Since the audit is dated November 24, 2014 we can assume that these financial results will reappear in the December report.

The restatement for FY2012 and the FY2013 audited results reduced the amount of capital leases and equipment and other debt. It did, however, reclassify two items as mortgages that had not been so previously. Mortgages now include the Penn Station Mortgage which should be $116.735 million at the end of September 2014 plus the High Speed maintenance facility and a frequency converter facility. The frequency converter facility was refinanced in FY2012 and the high speed maintenance facility was purchased from a lease by the manufacturer of Acela and then leased back by Amtrak.  

7) The Engineer's report shows that in the first two months 4 turnouts, 137 feet of Bridge Deck being converted to ballast, 4.4 miles of Catenary renewed, and 5.2 miles of Signal Cable being replaced.

8) In November, the Mechanical Department overhauled 11 Amfleets, 10 Superliners, 2 Horizons, 1 Viewliner, and 1 Surfliner.

9) The Capital Budget now authorizes an increase of $21.207 million in spending over the previous report. Engineering was increased by $8.576 million, Transportation $2.298 million , Amtrak Technologies $6.451 million with other departments getting smaller increases. However for the amount of money Amtrak expects to actually spend, the forecast was a huge decrease of $412.171 million from the forcast made the previous month. Taking the hit was NECIID (special projects for the Northeast Corridor involved with State sponsored projects) which had its forcast reduced by $441.268 million. On the other hand Engineering now forcasts a gain of $17.890 million, Mechanical $5.020 million; Amtrak Technologies $5.020 million and Marketing & Sales of $4.630 million.

Actual spending was $136.058 million for October and November combined with $7.471 million being spent on the concrete shell beneath the Hudson Yards, $0.125 million on Acquisitions and $3.4 million on ADA Compliance. There should be a big increase in Acquisition spending with the delivery of all those new Viewliner Baggage Cars.

11) Employment at Amtrak rose by one employee to 20,343.

12) 31-32 ACS Sprinter Electric Locomotives are now on Amtrak property.

The Vermonter was relocated to the Connecticut River Line (Northampton and Greenfield) from Amherst on December 29, 2014. Ridership at the two new stations appears to be good, but no numbers have been circulated yet. While the reroute will eventually result in a cut of 1/2 hour over the previous schedule, so far only five minutes have been cut and this applied only to the Southbound Schedule. It is worthwhile to note that overall Ridership on the Vermonter is up .


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