May 2017 Amtrak Report

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

  1. The report was dated  June 30, 2017 and posted July 1, 2017. This is what we would normally expect.
  2. Ridership was up for May 2017 compared to May 2016, but less than budgeted. 
  3. For the first eight months of the fiscal year Amtrak is running $19.5 million behind budget, but is $38 million ahead of last year. The budgetary loss comes from that definitive category known as “other expenses” which is running $38.2 million behind budget.  Amtrak had for the first eight months a cash operating loss of $153.7 million. This is $30.7 million better than budget and $23.1 million better than the previous fiscal year for the same period. Subtracting the $338.9 million cash operating surplus for the NEC means that the National System (everything except the NEC) had a cash operating loss of $492.6 million for the first eight months of the year. 

Amtrak appears to believe that the remainder of the year will not be a good as last year. They are allowing for severe impact from the work being done in Penn Station New York. The forecast for the cash operating loss for the entire 2017 is $276.1 million which is even $8.2 million worse than last month’s forecast.

12 product lines are still showing a contribution after all attributed costs: 

  1. Acela $199.0 million
  2. Northeast Regionals $140.4 million
  3. Washington-Newport News $3.8 million
  4. Washington-Lynchburg $2.8 million
  5. Carolinian $2.0 million
  6. Chicago-St. Louis $1.7 million 
  7. Washington-Richmond $1.6 million
  8. Washington-Norfolk $1.3 million
  9. Non-NEC Specials $0.6 million
  10. Vermonter $0.4 million
  11. Piedmont $0.3 million
  12. Ethan Allan $0.0 million

The Hiawatha product line covered all costs except for Other Post Employment Benefits (OPEB), Projects and IG.

Virginia’s four product lines produced a total of $9.5 million in operating surplus.

  1. Cost Recovery worsened to 96.0%. Food and Beverages coverage rose slightly to 57.8%. 
  2. The Engineer’s report is still AWOL. It has been 19 months since this report was included. Also missing now for 32 Months are the Profit and Loss, Balance Sheet and Cash Flow pages. Amtrak’s 2018 budget justification, 2017 budget document is expected shortly and would contain some of this information.

The Chief Mechanical Officer’s report shows that in May Amtrak overhauled: 12 Amfleets, 10 Superliners, 1 Horizon, 5 Heritage, 1 Viewliner, and 1 Surfliners.  

The Heritage Car overhauls are most interesting; two diners were overhauled along with a Pacific Parlor Car. In addition Amtrak is now planning to overhaul 6 heritage baggage cars during the remainder of FY2016 of which 2 were done in May. Hopefully this is because of need for more baggage capacity and not because of problems with the new CAF Baggage Cars which were accepted two years ago.

  1. For the first eight months, Amtrak was running 417,720 more passengers than in the previous year. For the fiscal year to date, the total is 20,677,472. Product lines that are up over 10% from the previous period of time are: Non-NEC Special Trains (+121.6%), NEC Special Trains (+32.4%), and the Texas Eagle  (+19.3%). 
  2. Authorized spending for the entire year was increased by $0.7 million and is now at $2,073.7 million. 

In actual capital spending to date Amtrak has spent $730.9 million. Hudson Yards Tunnel Box shows expenditures of $2.9 million. CAF (low level long distance car manufacturer) category shows expenditures of $6.9 million (up by $1.9 million from the previous month) and ADA Expenditure was $27.0 million.

  1. Employment was decreased by 32 from April and there were 20,003 employees.
  2. CAF coughed up two more diners in June (The Baton Rouge and the Boston) to make a total of 5 diners delivered to date by CAF. 

Amtrak has announced that Richard Anderson will succeed Wick Moorman on January 1, 2018. For the duration of 2017 they will work together as co-presidents. After January 1, 2018 Wick will remain as a consultant to Amtrak. 

Work begins in earnest on the station tracks under Penn Station on July 10, 2018.

The Trump Administration has appointed an assistant administrator of the FRA and made him acting administrator.

The DEIS for the Gateway Tunnels was due to be released by June 30, 2017. This has been delayed to allow senior officials at DOT to review same.

No record of decision yet on the TIER ONE NEC/Future EIS. This could change now that the acting administrator has been appointed.

Steve Musen 

Rhode Island  representative to NARP’s Council of Representatives