February Amtrak Report

I have read the February report and these are the things that I find interesting:

1) The report is dated March 31, 2015 and released on the web site that same day. This would be very early for a posting but in line with recent ones. Again the report omits the Balance Sheet, Cash Flow, and Income/Expense pages.

2) Ridership was up from 2014 in February despite some horrid weather in New England. For the first five months of FY 2015 the gain is now 198,214. For the year so far it totals 12,386,921.

3) Amtrak's cost recovery for the fiscal year so far is 95.0% which is a deterioration from the report at the end of January.

Amtrak is to date $6.9 million worse than budget for FY2015 with a GAAP loss of $464.3 million. The corporation is forecasting, that for the entire FY2015, a cash lost of $302.4 million; which is $13.1 million worse than what was forecast at the end of January. This is bad news because the operating appropriation is $250 million with a potential of transferring up to $50 million from capital. The extra $2.4 million would have to be paid out of cash reserves unless the situation improves.

Food & Beverage recovery was 52.1% which is a further deterioration from the percentage given last month.

On a GAAP basis the first five months were $35.2 million worse than the same period last year.

4) The number of product lines with operating surplus shrunk to 6:

Acela                                             $116.8 million

Northeast Regionals                       $70.4 million

Washington-Newport News              $2.4 million

Washington-Lynchburg                     $1.2 million

Vermonter                                          $0.8 million

Washington-Norfolk                           $0.1 million

Two of the former product lines with operating surpluses would have still had an operating surplus if Other Post Employment Benefits, Projects and Amtrak Inspector General expenses was not included; Carolinian and Washington-Richmond.

5) Only one product line had increases in excess of 10% for the first five months over the previous period a year earlier:

Washington-Norfolk +10.2%.

6) As noted the financial results were not published. This makes the fifth straight report without that vital information.

7) The Engineer's report shows that in February 2 miles of Electric Catenary was renewed. The Signal Cable installation is reported by a different system then the remainder of the Engineering report so no total for the first five months was given.

8) In February, the Mechanical Department overhauled 9 Amfleets, 8 Superliners, 2 Horizons and 1 Viewliner.

9) The Capital Budget authorized an increase of $18.454 million. The big increase in authorized spending was for real estate projects ($20 million) with small increases and decreases in the rest of the departments. Forecast spending also was increased by $41.036 million with a big boost in Engineering ($43.894 million) and $20 million in Real Estate with a decrease of $24.48 million in Mechanical. Small increases and decreases in the other departments made up the differences.

Actual spending so far this fiscal year was $406.686 million. Gateway (Concrete shell over the Hudson Yards was $19.401 million and Acquisions were $36.710 (an increase of $0.227 million).

10) Amtrak employment increased by 55 to 20,293.

11)   ACS64s that have been shipped out of the Siemen's plant is now up to 40.

12)  A treaty has been negotiated between United States and Canada that among other things would establish a sealed station in Montreal Central Station. There, customs for Canada and the United States could occur, saving passengers from having to debark the train in the woods along the New York/Quebec border, spend an hour or two milling around while being inspected and then allowed to reboard the train. This station would benefit the Adirondack by speeding it up by several hours in both directions and would allow the Vermonter to be extended to Montreal having a big impact on its ridership. This treaty needs to be ratified by both the United States and Canadian Legislatures.

The Amtrak Authorization has not progressed in the Senate, and rumors abound that the Senate will accept the House version if the reauthozation of the Surface Transportation Board is attached to it.

Both the Senate and House have passed budgets that severly limit growth in discretionary spending (except for defense) but those budgets require reconciliation between the two houses which has yet not occured. Both budgets would probably prevent Amtrak from getting any material increase in Appropriations over current levels.


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