March 2018 Amtrak Financial Report

  • The report was dated  April 30, 2018 and posted on the web site on May 1, 2018.


  • The NEC generated for the first four months an operating surplus of $250.3 million ($66.2 million for just the month of March) and the remainder of the system had a deficit of $395.3 million ($23.9 million in February alone). For the fiscal year to date, the NEC made debt service payments of $82.0 million and borrowed of $24.3 million on the RRIF loan for the Avila train sets. After capital investments of $319.259 million, it had a carryover balance of $189.596 million. (This is an increase of $39.210 million in the month of February alone). The National Network made debt service of $21.980 million and capital investment of $252.383 million. It exhausted all the remaining funds in the National Network Account and ended the month with a negative balance of $74.953 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. Last, the National System is due to receive the balance of its appropriations for the current fiscal year. 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 may go away as the appropriations arrive.


  • Capital Spending is described in broad categories for the FY2018 to date: Infrastructure $190.4 million, Stations and Real Estate $62.0 million, Fleet $151.7 million, Information Technology $38.1 million, ADA $22.6 million, and Support $3.5 million. In addition $79.0 million was spent on State, Local, and Other category. Total Capital Spending is up by $24.6 million over what was spent in FY2017 during the same period, despite that State, Local, and Other is down by $58.8 million. Some $24.3 million is assigned to RRIF which presumably is being used to construct the Avila Train Sets.


  • The GAAP loss for the first six months appears to be $512.5 million, however, the adjusted operating earnings (i.e. the cash operating needs of the corporation) were $28.5 million worse than the comparable period last year.


  • The ten product lines either showed an operating surplus as the Illinois Zephyr is now showing a surplus:
    • Acela $154.8 million
    • Northeast Regionals $106.5 million
    • Washington- Lynchburg (Roanoke) $2.7 million
    • Washington-Newport News $2.6 million
    • Washington-Richmond $1.1 million
    • Washington-Norfolk $1.1 million
    • Downeaster $1.0 million
    • Vermonter $0.6 million
    •  Illinois Zephyr $0.3 million

The four Virginia product lines generated approximately $7.5 million in total operating surplus. 


  • Amtrak despite the huge increase in appropriations has announced its intent to make cuts in the operating expenses of the long distance trains. It will eliminate all station agents at stations where the daily ridership was less than 40 persons be day (14,600 annually). It will eliminate the diner service on both the Capitol Ltd and Lake Shore Ltd.  Frist Class passengers will get a cold sandwich for lunch & dinner and a bread basket for breakfast. On the Lake Shore, the new diners would be used as the first class lounge. Questionable as to what the attendant would be doing in that car, unless selling food and drinks.


  • Amtrak has been evaluating the PTC progress of its host railroads. These are the following problem areas:
    • Rail Runner affecting the Southwest Chief
    • TriRail and SunRail affecting the Silver Meteor and Silver Starvation as well as the Auto Train.
    • Post Road Cutoff affecting the Boston Section of the Lake Shore Ltd.
    • Springfield to Greenfield affecting the Vermonter
    • Canadian National may be able to get an extension. If not,  it would affect the City of New Orleans, Chicagon-Carbondale, Battle Creek, Mich to Port Huron, and Chicago to Joliet. 


  • No new equipment has been received since the previous report.               

Steve Musen

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