July Amtrak Report

I have read the July Report and these are the items that I found interesting.  July was a much better month than June, and compared to most of the months in fiscal 2015, so far, was rather good.

1) The report is dated September 4, 2015 and posted on the web site by September 5,  2015. While historically normal, it is way later than most of the reports this year, and compared to past July reports rather late. Still missing in action are the balance sheet, cash flow and income/expense pages.

2) Ridership was up slightly from July 2014, with the gains coming from the Northeast Corridor. For the year to date, it is 118, 517 more than last year, leading to a likelihood that another yearly record will be set. For the year to date, 25,717,317 passengers have ridden Amtrak.

3) Cost Recovery for the year to date improved to 96% as did Food & Beverage Recovery to 54.4%.

The corporation is now forecasting a cash loss of $307.6 million for the entire fiscal year,  which is a $29.1 million improvement over the previous forecast. However, since the federal appropriation is only $250 million and only $50 million can be transferred from the capital appropriation, $7.6 million would still need to come from cash reserves. If August is as favorable as July, it is possible to eliminate the remaining reduction in cash reserves. However this still begs the question of how much can be spent on capital projects when so much is needed.

For the first ten months of the year, Amtrak is now $71.6 million worse than budget. (This is an improvement of $10.1 million from last month). The GAAP loss for the period to date is 983.5 million. The comparison to the same period last year shows a worsening of $180.2 million.

4) The number of product lines with operating surpluses for the year to date has grown to 8:

     Acela                                                                            $246.3 Million

     Northeast Regional                                                      $155.1 Million

     Washington-Newport News                                         $4.6 Million

     Washington-Lynchburg                                                $2.3 Million

     Vermonter                                                                      $1.6 Million

     Maple Leaf                                                                     $0.9 Million

     Washington-Richmond                                                 $0.2 Million

     Washington-Norfolk                                                    >$0

The Adirondack covered all costs except OPEBs, Projects, and Amtrak IG.


5) No product line has an increase over 10% from FY 2014 for the year to date.

6) As noted, no financial results have been reported for the last 10 months. In fact the 2014 annual report has still not been published.

7) The Engineer’s report shows that in July: 7 turnouts were replaced, 1.1 miles of catenary was renewed, 4 new transformers installed, and 0.9 miles of new Signal Cable laid.

8) The Mechanical Officer’s report shows that in July: 18 Amfleet, 10 Superliners, 3 Horizons, 1 Viewliner, and 1 Surfliner were overhauled.

9) Authorized capital spending was increased by  $1.205 million. However the forecast spending for the entire year was decreased by $96.126 million.

Actual capital spending so far this year is $995.996 million. Gateway (concrete shell under the Hudson yards) $32.431 million. Acquisition of new equipment was $64.708 million (increase of $0.246 million). ADA expenditures so far are $18.3 million.

10) Amtrak employment decreased by 69 to 20,484.

11) The number of new ACS 64 Sprinter Electric Locomotives that have been shipped out of Siemen’s plant in Sacramento is now 56. However, no new Viewliner Cars have left ACF plant in Elimira.

Congress will be back from its August recess with less than a month before the end of the fiscal year to pass any budget bills. Much time will be taken up with the Iran Nuclear deal, plus another recess for the Jewish Holidays. It is possible that the House will address a long term Surface Transportation bill, however a short term continual resolution for Appropriations is expected. A continual resolution for Amtrak would appropriate at the same level as the current year. The Democratic leadership in the senate is pushing for a relaxation of the spending caps (from sequestration) but that would entail another major fight in the senate, and would run into a roadblock in the house.

Amtrak is planning to eliminate the single agent at Winona, MN which is causing a stir among the rail passenger advocacy groups.

Talk about building the two additional tunnels under the Hudson has been plentiful. Actual dollars have not been pledged.


Steve Musen

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