April 2017 Amtrak Report

I have read the  April Report and these are the items that caught my attention:

  1. The report was dated June 1, 2017 and posted that day. This is what we would normally expect.
  2. Ridership was up in April 2017 compared to April 2016. 
  3. For the first seven months of the fiscal year Amtrak is running $17.7 million behind budget, but is $47.1 million ahead of last year. The budgetary loss comes from expenses almost exclusively the category known as “other expenses” which is running $31.9 million behind budget.  Amtrak had for the first seven months a cash operating loss of $114.7 million. This is $25.7 million better than budget and $31.8 million better than the previous fiscal year for the same period. Subtracting the $298.4 million cash operating surplus for the NEC means that the National System (everything except the NEC) had a cash operating loss of $413.1 million for the first seven months of the year. 

Amtrak appears to believe that the second half of the year will not be a good as last year. They are allowing for a severe impact from the work being done in Penn Station New York. The forecast for the cash operating loss for the entire 2017 is $267.93 million which is still $4.4 million better than last month’s forecast.

  1. 13 product lines are still showing a contribution after all attributed costs: 
  1. Acela $174.6 million
  2. Northeast Regionals $124.4 million
  3. Washington-Newport News $3.4 million
  4. Washington-Lynchburg $2.5 million
  5. Chicago-St. Louis $2.1 million
  6. Carolinian $1.9 million
  7. Washington-Richmond $1.4 million
  8. Washington-Norfolk $1.3 million
  9. Non-NEC Specials $0.7 million
  10. Vermonter $0.5 million
  11. Ethan Allan $0.2 million
  12. Piedmont $0.2 million
  13. Hiawatha $0.1 million

Virginia’s four product lines produced a total of $8.6 million in operating surplus.

  1. Cost Recovery improved to 98.0%. Food and Beverages rose slightly to 57.5%. 
  2. The Engineer’s report is still AWOL. It has been 18 months since this report was included. Also missing now for 31 Months are the Profit and Loss, Balance Sheet and Cash Flow pages. Amtrak’s legislative request for 2018 has been posted but not the budget justification for FY2017 which would contain this information . 
  3. The Chief Mechanical Officer’s report shows that in April Amtrak overhauled: 13 Amfleets, 8 Superliners, 2 Horizon, 1 Heritage Diner, 1 Viewliner, and 2 Surfliners.  One of the Amfleet was formerly in wreck status as was one of the Superliners. The overhaul of one of the Heritage Diners indicates that Amtrak wants to keep some of them for the near term. CAF has been very slow in releasing the ones they have been building.
  4. For the first six months, Amtrak was running 370,582 more passengers than in the previous year. For the fiscal year to date, the total is 17,901,997. Product lines that are up over 10% from the previous period of time are Non-NEC Special Trains (+124.2%), NEC Special Trains (+32.5%), Texas Eagle (+21.6%), Hoosier State (11.6%), and Chicago-St. Louis (+10.5%).
  5. Authorized spending for the entire year was increased by $15.3 million and is now at $2,089.0 million. 

In actual spending to date: Amtrak has spent $623.3 million, Hudson Yards Tunnel Box shows expenditures of $2.9 million, CAF shows expenditures of $5.0 million (up by $1.8 million from the previous month), and ADA Expenditures was $23.7 million.

  1. Employment increased by 65 from March to a total 20,035 employees.
  2. Amtrak has released plans on how they intend to conduct operations while Interlocking “A” is rebuilt at New York Penn Station. Proportionally, Amtrak will have the greatest reduction with some regional service suspended, a few Keystone trains terminated at Philadelphia and the Crescent turned at Washington, DC rather than New York City. New Jersey Transit will shift all Morris & Essex Trains (M&E Division) to Hoboken. Long Island Railroad has not yet published their plans. Amtrak is still considering transferring a few Empire Trains to Grand Central Terminal.

The basic legislative request was issued on May 31, 2017. The Corporation is requesting $1,600,000,000 which is $105,000,000 million more than was enacted for FY2017. Amtrak will do some preliminary construction of the North Portal Bridge but expects completion to take 7 years assuming adequate financing. One area that could help would be a full funding agreement under the New Starts Program at the Federal Transit Administration. The EIS for the new Hudson Tunnels is expected to be released with a record of decision by next March.

Steve Musen 

Rhode Island representative to NARP’s Council of Representatives