June Amtrak Report

I have read the June Report and these are the things I find interesting. While the month was better than May, it still was disappointing,

1) The report is dated July 31, 2015and was posted on the web site on August 1, 2015. While historically early, it is still later than the last few reports. Still missing in action are the balance sheet, cash flow, and income/expense pages.

2) Ridership was off slightly from June of 2014. However for the year to date it is still 101,714 ahead of last year. Service distruptions affected a number of product lines, most notably the Downeaster. While some of these were corrected in July; August should be first month for the Downeaster to run a full complement. Gasoline prices have also started to go down and this has a big effect on family travel.

3) Cost recovery was slightly improved for the first nine months of FY2015, which rose to 95.0%. Also up is Food & Beverage recovery which is now 53.7% for the same period.

The corporation is now forecasting a cash loss for the entire fiscal year of $336.7 million which is the same amount as last month. Since the federal appropriation is only $250 million with a provision to transfer $50 million from the Capital appropriation, Amtrak may have to take $36.7 million from its cash reserves to balance its books.

For the first nine months, Amtrak is now $81.7 million worse than budget with a GAAP loss of $917.2 million. Compared to the same period last year, the corporation hasa GAAP loss that is $187 million worse.

4) The number of product lines with an operating surplus is now 6:

Acela                                                                                     $219.4 million

Northeast Regional                                                         $135.6 million

Washington-Newport News                                       $    3.7 million

Washington-Lynchburg                                                 $    2.0 million

Vermonter                                                                         $     1.3 million

Washington-Richmond                                                 Greater than Zero but less than $50,000 but still in plus territory.

Washington-Norfolk, Adirondack and Maple Leaf would have covered all costs except for OPEBs (Other Post Employment Benefits), Projects and share of the Amtrak IG).

5) No product line has an increase of 10% or more over last year, and many have cumulative losses for the year to date in excess of 10%.

6) As noted the financial results were not published. This makes the ninth straight month without this vital information. Amtrak has also failed to post its annual report for FY2014, which would violate a large number of securities regulations.

7 The Engineer’s report shows that in June 0.4 miles of Catenary Hardware was renewed, 0.9 miles of Signal Cable replaced, and 1 new transformer added.

8)The Chief Mechanical Officer’s report shows that in June: 11 Amfleet, 12 Superliners, 1 Horizon, and 1 Viewliner were overhauled. Also a Superliner I Coach which had been classified as a wreck was restored to service.

9)The Capital Budget authorized an increase of $21.560 million of which $15 million was in Real Estate. However Forecast spending for the entire fiscal year decreased by $14.787 million.

Actual spending so far is $844.938 million. Gateway (Concrete shell over the Hudson Yards) was $29.648 million and Acquisitions was $64.462 (increase of $7.892). Looks like another payment on those baggage cars. ADA expenditures sofar this year are $16.3 million.

10) Amtrak employment increased by 102 to 20,553.

11) ACS Sprinter Electric Locomotives that have been shipped out of Siemen’s plant in Sacramento is now 50.

There has been no movement on any of the 12 Federal Appropriations Bills in the Senate, The Senate did pass a four year Amtrak reauthorization which was combined with other surface reauthorizations. However the house adjourned before being able to take this up. A three month extension of the Highway and Mass Transit Accounts was passed so it is expected that action between the two houses on this bill will occur in September when both houses get back from vacations.

Also effect today (August 2, 2015) Iowa Pacific is supplying the equipment and the on board services (that amounts to the Café Car Attendant) for the Hoosier State. This should boost ridership on that train.

Steve Musen

State Representative from the State of Rhode Island to NARP’s Council of Representatives