December 2017 Amtrak Report

  • The report was dated January 26, 2017 and posted on the web site on either late January 31, 2018 or February 1, 2018. December was not up to expectations of Amtrak.
  • The NEC generated for the first three months an operating surplus of $146.496 million ($26.105 million for just the month of December) and the remainder of the system had a deficit of $206.180 million ($83.48 million in December alone). During this time the NEC made debt service payments of $49.386 million and net payments after borrowing of $0.797 million on the RRIF loan for the Avila train sets. After capital investments of $148,861 million, it had a carryover balance of $116.508 million. (This is an increase of $4.751 million in the month of December alone). The national network made debt service of $12.683 million and capital investment of $123.557 million. It exhausted all the remaining funds in the National Network Account and ended the month with a negative balance of $27.457 million.
  • Keep in mind that Amtrak can loan one account out of the other and it also has a huge amount of funds that are unobligated. At the end of fiscal 2017 (September 30, 2017) Amtrak had a cash on hand balance of $1.101 billion with accounts receivable of $336.361 million and accounts payable of $471.944 million. In fact it had a current ratio of (Current Assets divided Current Liabilities )of 1.0996 which is probably the best in its history. So the negative balance in the National Network Account is not something to worry about (yet!).
  • Capital Spending is described in broad categories: Infrastructure $92.0 million, Stations and Real Estate $25.0 million, Fleet $75.5 million, Information Technology $16.4 million, ADA $12.3 million, and Support $0.8 million. In addition $43.3 million was spent on State, local, and other category. Spending is very comparable to what was spent in FY2017 during the same period, except that State local and other is down sharply, and Amtrak direct spending up some $20 million. Some $7.0 million is assigned to RRIF which presumably is being used to construct the Avila Train Sets.
  • The GAAP loss for the first three months appears to be $248.3 million. However the adjusted operating earnings (ie the cash operating needs of the corporation) were $59.0 million worse than the comparable period last year.
  • The same nine product lines either showed an operating surplus or broke even.
    • Acela $89.9 million

    • Northeast Regionals $67.1 million

    • Washington- Lynchburg (Roanoke) $1.5 million

    • Washington-Newport News $1.4 million

    • Washington-Norfolk $0.7 million

    • Carolinian $0.7 million

    • Washington-Richmond $0.7 million

    • Vermonter $0.6 million

    • Ethan Allen >$0.0

    • The four Virginia product lines generated approximately $4.3 million in total operating surplus.

    • The current CR runs out on February 8, 2018. However, Speaker Ryan said that they may need a 5th CR to wrap things up. This is not likely to go well as the last CR required a 2 1/2 day government shutdown to get passed, and since then no major bottlenecks have been resolved. Also on the horizon is the need for Congress to raise the Federal Debt Limit earlier than expected as tax receipts are running less than anticipated.
  • In December, train 501 was involved in a major accident that took the lives of three passengers and injured hundreds more. Amtrak has not yet budgeted the project liability costs, but one can assume they will be substantial. Another accident took place on January 31, 2018 when a dump truck dodged a gate and was hit by a special movement carrying 100 GOP Senators and Congressmen, their families and aids to a conference at Greenbriers, WV. While this is not likely to cause any liability claims, the locomotive sustained serious damage that will need to be repaired or the engine replaced. A third accident took place on February 4, 2018. The Engineer and the Conductor were killed when the Silver Star(vation) hit head on a CSX Freight Train in South Carolina. Both locomotives were demolished. At this time it appears the accident was caused when the passenger train was routed onto the wrong track and plowed into the parked freight train. Fortunately for the crew of the Freight Train, no one was aboard. Not so for the Silver Star which had close to 100 Passengers and Crew injured along with the two fatalities. Besides the locomotive it is likely that several of passengers cars were totaled.
  • Amtrak received two more diners from CAF (the Madison and the Montgomery) bringing the total of new diners to 12 on hand, plus the original Viewliner Diner, the Indianapolis. It is expected that the last heritage diners will be phased out soon. Currently, the Crescent and Silver Meteor have running the new diners. It is hoped that once the latest diners have been thoroughly vetted, that they will run on other trains. The most likely candidate would be the Lake Shore Ltd. About 13 more diners are still to be delivered before they start on the baggage dorm cars which would actually increase the capacity of the single level low distance trains.
  • The Downeaster has been planning a summer extension of one of its trains from Brunswick to Rockland for weekend service only during the summer.


Steve Musen

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