Amtrak Legislative Request

Amtrak has submitted its legislative request. I would recommend that you read it in its entirety. Here are a few things that stood out in my mind.


The Legislative Request was FINALLY posted today on their web site. It is dated May 31, 2017 which means it took a few days to be listed on the web site. 

President Moorman has only three bullet points in his cover letter. Amtrak is requesting the full amount of the FAST ACT authorization which is $1.6 Billion. Amtrak has emphasized the cost of the long distance trains being eliminated. Their estimate is $423 million more in FY2018 rather than less. Last point is the Penn Station NY Work.

The breakdown of the request is $358.4 million for the NEC and $1,241.6 million for the National Network. The NEC request is an increase of $30.4 million and the National Network is increased by $74.6 million. Amtrak is also asking Congress in lieu of dedicated funding to consider appropriating in advance for Amtrak FY2019 and FY2020. The fast act would increase the total appropriations by $100 million more over the FY2018 request in FY2019 and $200 million more in FY2019.

In the breakdown of the NEC expenditure approximate $156 million is the share of the National Network using the NEC. I would suggest reading the entire page 4, because it is a good description of how that is calculated.

Also page 8 of the report shows the breakdown for FY2018 between operations and capital. For FY2018 Amtrak expects a total of $683,526,941of the Federal Appropriation would be needed for operating: $66,137,138 for State Supported Corridors, $590,782,042 for long distance trains and $26,607,761 for infrastructure access. Infrastructure Access is defined: to safely and efficiently plan for, develop, manage and provide access to Amtrak-owned or controlled infrastructure and facilities consistent with Amtrak’s statutory obligations. Its primary customers include rail operators and other public and private sector entities that currently use or plan to use, Amtrak owned assets. The capital investment of $901,743,059 would include $71,090,788 for NEC Intercity Operations, $283,777,855 for State Supported Corridors, $245,657,364 for Long Distance Trains and $300,947,052 for Infrastructure Access. I think much of the Gateway spending would fall into the Infrastructure Access Category.

In table #5 my assumption would be strengthened by the fact that $280,517,212 of the Infrastructure Access is assigned to  the NEC while only $20,429,840 is assigned to the National System.

Table 7 on Page 10 of the request is another interesting table. It proposes that a total of $1,024,602,354 ($165,255,760 from appropriations and $859,346,594 from revenue and other sources (read states)) for infrastructure on the NEC, $696,967,892 ($116,030,604 from appropriations and 580,937,252 from revenue and other sources) for equipment for the NEC. A total of $701,696,516 ($430,578,222 from appropriations and $271,118,294 from revenue and other sources) for Equipment on the National Network.

Starting on Page 12 justification is given for the spending levels. Amtrak is looking in FY2018 to advance the following projects: Design of the replacement of the Pelham Bay Bridge, Work on the Connecticut River Bridge and key elements of the Gateway Program.

Amtrak is indicating that 500 brand new cars to replace the Amfleet would be the most cost efficient rather than a complete rebuilding of each car.

The Skylight at Chicago Union Station would be replaced. Apparently it is a source of much of the water that is damaging the station.

This statement is interesting: The direct costs of the National System (which includes the Long Distance Trains) exceed revenues by only $32,161,525. (Page 31 of the request)

Amtrak is supporting the FTA’s Capital Investment Grants especially so funding for the two projects that benefit Amtrak, the North Portal Bridge and the Hudson Tunnels. They are specifically requesting that CORE CAPACITY grant of $125 million be included for the NJ Portal North Bridge Replacement.

Under Federal State of Good Report Repair Projects, Table 12 (Pages 36 and 37) lists 8 Large Projects (Baltimore & Potomac Tunnel, Susquehanna River Bridge, Sawtooth Bridge, Intercity Passenger Rail SOGR in the Gateway Program, East River Tunnel, Pelham Bay Bridge, Connecticut River Bridge, Chicago Union Station Train Shed Ventilation, Wilmington Shops Upgrades) and 14 small projects that should be made eligible.

On Page 41 is a supplemental list of projects that Amtrak considers suitable for an infrastructure bill: Including is $1.45 billion for mainline diesel locomotives and $900 million for single level coaches. The single level coaches would be used in the Northeast and South. Also included are 10 bridges and tunnels, 12 station and facilities projects, a Chicago Terminal ROW Acquisition & Improvements, a NEC Trackside Broadband Network, 3 Safety, Security and Accessibility initiatives, and $10 Billion for various unspecified new corridors.

Proposed ADA programs to be worked upon during FY2018 would be Aberdeen, MD and Harrisburg, PA as well as more Passenger Information Display Systems throughout the system.

The EIS for the Hudson Tunnels is progressing with a Record of Decision and preliminary engineering expected to be completed in March 2018. Early work construction on the Portal North Bridge will begin in 2017 and if fully funded can be completed by 2024.

In summary, this is one of the best legislative requests submitted. Hopefully, it will impress Congress enough to get most of it enacted. The FY17 Budget, Business Plan, FY18 Budget Justification and the FY17-21 Financial Plan should appear soon.

Steve Musen