June 2017 Amtrak Report

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

  1. The report was dated August 3, 2017 and finally posted August 24, 2017. Around August 3, the May Report was listed a second time and it took three weeks before the mistake was corrected.
  2. Ridership was up June 2017 compared to June 2016 but less than budgeted. 
  3. For the first three quarters of the fiscal year Amtrak is running $5.9 million behind budget, but is $3.4 million ahead of last year. Amtrak had for the first nine months a cash operating loss of $173.6 million. This is $33 million better than budget and $17.5 million better than the previous fiscal year for the same period. Subtracting the $382.6 million cash operating surplus for the NEC means that the National System (everything except the NEC) had a cash operating loss of $556.2 million for the first nine months of the year. 

Amtrak has revised its estimate for the cash loss for the entire year to $237.2 million which is a $38.9 million improvement over the previous estimate.

13 product lines are now showing a contribution after all attributed costs: 

  1. Acela $224.9 million
  2. Northeast Regionals $159.9 million
  3. Washington-Newport News $4.4 million
  4. Washington-Lynchburg $3.1 million
  5. Carolinian $2.7 million
  6. Washington-Richmond $1.9 million
  7. Chicago-St. Louis $1.8 million 
  8. Washington-Norfolk $1.5 million
  9. Non-NEC Specials $0.6 million
  10. Piedmont $0.5 million
  11. Vermonter $0.4 million
  12. Hiawatha $0.2 million
  13. Ethan Allan $0.0 million

The Hiawatha product line has moved into surplus territory whereas previously it was covering all costs except for IG, OPEBs and Projects.

Virginia’s four product lines produced a total of $10.9 million in operating surplus.

Cost Recovery improved to 97.0%. Food and Beverages rose slightly to 58.7%. 

The Engineer’s report is still AWOL. It has been 20 months since this report was included. Also missing now for 33 Months are the Profit and Loss, Balance Sheet, and Cash Flow pages. Amtrak’s 2018 budget justification, 2017 budget document would contain some of this information. Those documents have not been posted and with the fiscal 2017 being only a month to go, it is unlikely that a 2017 budget would be posted. 

The Chief Mechanical Officer’s report shows that in May Amtrak overhauled: 13 Amfleets, 10 Superliners, 2 Horizon, 1 Heritage, 1 Viewliner, and 2 Surfliners.  

Previously Amtrak overhauled four of its heritage diners, two were overhauled in New Orleans and the other two in Beech Grove.

For the first eight months, Amtrak was running 484,176 more passengers than in the previous year. For the fiscal year to date, the total is 23,501,044. Product lines that are up over 10% from the previous period of time are: Non-NEC Special Trains (+95.1%), NEC Special Trains (+38.5%), Texas Eagle (+16.6%), and the Chicago-St. Louis Trains (+10.2%). 

Authorized spending for the entire year was increased by $81.1 million and is now at $2,073.7 million. 

In actual capital spending to date Amtrak has spent $856.4 million. Hudson Yards Tunnel Box shows expenditures of $5.8 million. CAF shows expenditures of $8.6 million (up by $1.7 million from the previous month) and ADA Expenditures was $30.0 million.

Employment was decreased by 109 from May as there were 19,894 employees.

CAF coughed up two more diners on August 1 (The Charleston and the Columbia) to make a total of 7 diners delivered to date by CAF. There have been reports that the Air Conditioning units are not working properly and need modification on the seven that have been delivered.

The Penn Station track work has gone smoothly, and normal schedules will resume on September 5, 2017.

The Trump Administration has nominated Ronald Batory as administrator of the FRA, however, his confirmation has been held up as leverage to get the Administration to formally commit to the federal share of the Gateway Project.

The DEIS for the Gateway Tunnels was released .

A record of decision was released on the TIER ONE NEC/Future EIS. The section between New Haven and Providence will be subject to further study. The States of Rhode Island and Connecticut will be the lead agencies on this supplementary study.

The Senate THUD Committee released it proposed budget for Fiscal 2018 which was then approved by the full Appropriations Committee. It was favorable to Amtrak. The House will be voting on an omnibus bill that contains its THUD recommendations and 7 other budget bills. All are subject to the debt ceiling crisis being resolved and the lingering question on the need to increase or eliminate the budget caps.

No Infrastructure proposal has been submitted by the administration so far.

Steve Musen

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