May 2018 Amtrak Financial Report

  • The report was dated  June 30, 2018 and posted July 2, 2018. 
  • The NEC generated for the first eight months an operating surplus of $366.8 million ($63.2 million for just the month of May) and the remainder of the system had a deficit of $444.0 million ($72.0 million in May  alone). For the fiscal year to date, the NEC made debt service payments of $134.1 million and borrowed of $31.5 million on the Riff loan for the Avila train sets. After capital investments of $455.213 million, it had a carryover balance of $234.242 million. (This is a decrease of $20.896 million in the month of May alone). The National Network made debt service of $22.500 million and capital investment of $354.162 million. It exhausted all the remaining funds in the National Network Account and ended the month with a negative balance of $89.568 million. This was an increase of $81.106 from the previous month.  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 covered from cash reserves.
  • Capital Spending is described in broad categories for the FY2018 to date: Infrastructure $287.9 million, Stations and Real Estate $87.1 million, Fleet $212.8 million, Information Technology $52.0 million, ADA $29.1 million, and Support $4.6 million. In addition $104.2 million was spent on State local and other category. Total Capital Spending is up by $46.4 million over what was spent in FY2017 during the same period, despite that State, Local, and other is down by $86.3 million. Some $31.5 million is assigned to RRIF which presumably is being used to construct the Avila Train Sets.
  • The GAAP loss for the first eight months appears to be $622.7 million. However the adjusted operating earnings (ie the cash operating needs of the corporation) were $4.5 million better than the comparable period last year and is running at $149.2 million.
  • The thirteen product lines that showed an operating surplus as the Hiawatha and Illini trains are now showing a surplus:

Acela $221.6 million

Northeast Regionals $147.4 million

Washington- Lynchburg (Roanoke) $3.6 million

Washington-Newport News $3.6 million

Carolinian $1.9 million

Washington-Richmond $1.3 million

Washington-Norfolk $1.3 million

Downeaster $0.8 million

Vermonter $0.8 million

Hiawatha $0.7 million              

Illinois Zephyr $0.6 million

Kansas City-St. Louis $0.4 million

Illini $0.1 million

The four Virginia product lines generated approximately $9.8 million in total operating surplus. 

  • Ridership for the first eight months is now 40,400 (approx..) less than the same period last year. For the year so far, ridership is 17,892,6?? (since Amtrak won’t give the actual figures but rounds off to the nearest thousand). Fuel prices went up slightly during the period.
  • Amtrak has announced a new menu for both the NEC Regional, Acela and Lake Shore Ltd Café Cars. While getting quality suppliers, all food will be prepared in advance. So you have no choice if you do not want cheese on any entrée, with the exception of the Hebrew National Hot Dog. Eliminated is milk, Sara Lee Danish and the Fruit Bowl among other items. The prices have been raised again. The reports on the new food in the diner for the Capitol Ltd. and Lake Shore Ltd. are not good. Even though the food is loaded fresh on the train, by the time it is served (especially breakfast), it has been several hours in the refrigerator. This causes the bread goods to be soggy. Also lost is the feeling of comradery with the people in the sleepers not being able to mingle with the coach passengers. Also a cold unappetizing sandwich does not make for sparkling conversation. The morale of the crew on both trains is now quite low, which does not help at all. Amtrak is substituting one hot meal, a short-rib plate for the beef tenderloin salad, effective July 11, 2018.
  • Amtrak has shopped around a plan to split the Southwest Chief into three unsustainable parts. Two legs would be trains (Chicago-Dodge City/La Junta and Albuquerque-Los Angeles) with a bus bridge in between. Amtrak has also reneged on a promise to contribute to a third Tiger Grant that would upgrade portions of the SW Chief Route. The Senators from KS, CO and NM are not happy about this, nor is any one who favors a national system as required by law.
  • The THUD bill may have a number of amendments added in the Senate, as concerns about elimination of station agents, truncation of lines, and institution of horrible food mount.                

Steve Musen

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