November Amtrak Report

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

1.       The report is dated December 30, 2015 but was not posted until either late on December 31, 2015 or early January 1, 2016. This is slightly early.

2.       The month was not as good as a November should be. The bottom line for the month was worse than budgeted (but is still ahead for the first two months) and ridership continues to lag behind the comparable period for last year.

3.       For the first two months, Amtrak had a cash operating loss of $6.8 million before interest expense. Interest expense for the first two months was $9.7 million. Amtrak is estimating that for the entire fiscal 2016, cash appropriations of $288.5 million will be needed; This is the exact amount of the appropriations passed by Congress for operations. On a GAAP basis, Amtrak lost $126.2 million plus $9.2 million in Non-Operating Expense for the first two months of the current fiscal year. This was $0.2 million better than budget.

4.       12 product lines showed “operating surpluses” for the two months. These were:

Acela                                                                   $62.6 million

Northeast Regionals                                        $45.2 million

Washington-Newport News                           $ 1.4 million

Maple Leaf                                                         $ 0.7 million

Washington-Lynchburg                                   $ 0.6 million

New Haven-Springfield                                    $ 0.3 million (probably because they have suspended most of the shuttles)

Washington-Norfolk                                         $ 0.3 million

Keystones                                                           $ 0.3 million

Washington-Richmond                                    $ 0.2 million

Carolinian                                                           $ 0.1 million

Hoosier State                                                     $ 0.1 million

Wolverines                                                         $ 0.1 million

5.       Cost Recovery was 103.0% and Food & Beverage Recovery slipped to 56.5%.

6.       Amtrak again neglected to include an Engineers report for November 2015 or the financial tables it use to report.

7.       So we have no knowledge of the current status of its outstanding debt or cash on hand.

8.       The Chief Mechanical Officer’s report shows that in November Amtrak overhauled: 13 Amfleet, 10 Superliners, 2 Horizons, and 1 Acela Set.

9.       Ridership was off further in November and now running 84,757 less for the first two months of the current fiscal year over the comparable period for the previous year. Total ridership so far this FY is 5,285,449. Three product lines however do show increases in excess of 10% from the previous year to date.

Non-NEC Special Trains +5,108.7%; Palmetto +40.2% and Lake Shore Ltd. +13.1%. The long distance train with greatest percentage loss was the Silver Star (still reeling from the effects of the loss of its diner). Cheap gasoline prices has also affected ridership overall.

10.   Capital Spending authorizations remain the same. For the first two months, Amtrak has spent $188.381 million on Capital Improvements including $3.926 million on Gateway (Concrete Shell under the Hudson Yards), $7.671 million on Equipment Acquisitions (increase of $7.640 million in November alone) and $2.3 million in ADA Expenditures.

11.   Employment decreased by 19 employees in November to 20,584 total.

12.   Since It has only been a week since the last Amtrak report was distributed, there obviously has not been much other Amtrak News. However, Phase One of the repairs to the exterior of the Providence Station appear to be almost complete with most of the park on top of the parking garage now in place.

Steve Musen

Rhode Island representative to NARP’s Council of Representatives