August 2018 Amtrak Financial Report

These are the items that I noticed in the report that were interesting to me:

  • The report was dated  September 30, 2018 but posted September 28, 2018. It looks like the report was released early.

  • The NEC generated for the first ten months an operating surplus of $401.6 million ($76.2 million for just the month of August) and the remainder of the system had a deficit of $633.1 million ($47.1 million in August  alone). For the fiscal year to date, the NEC made debt service payments of $146.7 million and borrowed of $44.8 million on the Riff loan for the Avila train sets and other borrowings. After capital investments of $717.449 million, it had a carryover balance of $751.314 million. (This is an increase of $132.424 million in the month of August alone). The National Network made debt service of $31.175 million and capital investment of $518.157 million. The National Network Account ended the month with a balance of $426.668 million. This was an decrease of $80.419 from the previous month.  

  • Capital Spending is described in broad categories for the FY2018 to date: Infrastructure $470.1 million, Stations and Real Estate $143.0 million, Fleet $301.2 million, Information Technology $78.9 million, ADA $41.0 million, and Support $7.3 million. In addition $129.3 million was spent on State local and other category. Amtrak has broken out spending on Gateway Projects as a separate category. For the first 11 months of FY2018 it had spent 19.9 million on the various projects.  Total Capital Spending was down by $156.3 million over what was spent in FY2017 during the same period, as State local and other is down by $78.7 million and $348.9 million less in RRIF borrowings because of the completion of the Sprinter Locomotive Deliveries. Some $44.8 million is assigned to RRIF which presumably is being used to construct the Avila Train Sets.

  • $26.2 million was to been set aside for the North Portal Bridge and $54 million for Hudson Property Acquisition but Amtrak has not funded these reserves. (It prefers to sit on the money instead). 

  • The GAAP loss for the first eleven months appears to be $810.9 million. However the adjusted operating earnings (ie the cash operating needs of the corporation) were $10.6 million worse than the comparable period last year. 

  • Fourteen product lines are showing an operating surplus. 

    • Acela $294.4 million

    • Northeast Regionals $201.4 million

    • Washington-Newport News $5.7 million

    • Washington- Lynchburg (Roanoke) $4.8 million

    • Carolinian $3.2 million

    • Washington-Richmond $2.0 million

    • Washington-Norfolk $1.9 million

    • Chicago-St. Louis $1.7 million

    • Hiawatha $1.6 million              

    • Kansas City-St. Louis $1.0 million

    • Vermonter $0.9 million

    • Illinois Zephyr $0.9 million

    • Illini $0.4 million

    • Downeaster $0.2 million

    • The four Virginia product lines generated approximately $14.4 million in total operating surplus. 

  • Ridership for the first eight months is now 2,900 (approx..) less than the same period last year. For the year so far, ridership is 29,193,300 (since Amtrak won’t give the actual figures but rounds off to the nearest hundredth). However, Passenger Miles is off 151.2 million. Fuel prices went up slightly during the period.

  • While Congress did fund 5 of the 12 budget bills prior to the end of the fiscal year, THUD was not one of them. Instead it is on a CR that lasts until December 7, 2018. This gives Amtrak during this period 18.6% of its FY2018 Appropriations (assuming Congress does not pass a full THUD Appropriation for FY2019 before then). Since the numbers for FY2018 were good, this is not a major problem but it does inhibit Amtrak from starting any new major projects.  The problem lies in that the Senate passed a number of amendments that benefit the long distance network, particularly the South West Chief. Unless they are included in the final conference report, and enacted into law, they will not take effect. 

  • This is important because Amtrak President Anderson and his cronies still may try to continue to debase the long distance network. This includes the possible bustitution between Dodge City and Albuquerque. While Amtrak Officer in charge of operating the train system implied that Amtrak would continue to run all trains after January 1, 2019 including those that ran partial or totally on segments without PTC, his remarks could be construed favorably or unfavorably. Moreover, he could be overruled by Anderson or the Amtrak Board. In testimony before the Senate Commerce Committee, Chief Operating Officer Scot Naparsek stated that the Southwest Chief would operate as is through all of FY2019. While NARP considers this a victory, the fact remains that we still have a potential problem after October 1, 2019. 


Steve Musen

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