July 2018 Amtrak Financial Report

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

  • The report was dated  August 30, 2018 and posted August 31, 2018. The reports are being consistently released at the end of the month following.

  • The NEC generated for the first ten months an operating surplus of $401.6 million ($40.3 million for just the month of July) and the remainder of the system had a deficit of $586.7 million ($142.7 million in June  alone). For the fiscal year to date, the NEC made debt service payments of $143.3 million and borrowed $34.5 million on the Riff loan for the Avila train sets and other borrowings. After capital investments of $634.475 million, it had a carryover balance of $751.314 million (this is an increase of $517.072 million in the month of July alone as the entire funds from the FY2018 Continuing Resolution were accrued). The National Network made debt service of $30.710 million and capital investment of $457.853 million. With the accrual of the CR funds, the National Network Account ended the month with a balance of $507.087 million. This was an increase of $670.324 from the previous month.  

  • Capital Spending is described in broad categories for the FY2018 to date: Infrastructure $412.5 million, Stations and Real Estate $126.5 million, Fleet $271.7 million, Information Technology $73.1 million, ADA $37.3 million, and Support $6.2 million; in addition $111.7 million was spent on State local and other category. Amtrak has broken out spending on Gateway Projects as a separate category. For the first 10 months of FY2018 it had spent 18.9 million on the various Gateway projects.  Total Capital Spending was down by $373.9 million over what was spent in FY2017 during the same period, as State local and other was down by $125.9 million and there was $363.5 million less in RRIF borrowings (because of the completion of the Sprinter Locomotive Deliveries). Some $34.5 million is assigned to RRIF which presumably is being used to construct the Avila Train Sets.

  • In a new listing, $24.2 million was to been set aside for the North Portal Bridge and $44.0 million for Hudson Property Acquisition but Amtrak has not funded these reserves.

  • The GAAP loss for the first ten months appears to be $732.4 million, however, the adjusted operating earnings (i.e. the cash operating needs of the corporation) were $18.2 million better than the comparable period last year. Note the improvement over last year is less than that reported the previous month. July is usually a month where income from fares usually exceeds expenses, however, the surplus in July was obviously less than July 2017 as the costs savings negatively affected revenues.

  • Fourteen product lines are showing an operating surplus:

    • Acela $274.0 million

    • Northeast Regionals $184.3 million

    • Washington-Newport News $5.0 million

    • Washington-Lynchburg (Roanoke) $4.4 million

    • Carolinian $3.0 million

    • Washington-Richmond $1.8 million

    • Washington-Norfolk $1.8 million

    • Hiawatha $1.3 million              

    • Chicago-St. Louis $1.2 million  

    • Vermonter $0.9 million

    • Kansas City-St. Louis $0.9 million

    • Illinois Zephyr $0.8 million

    • Downeaster $0.5 million

    • Illini $0.3 million 

    • The four Virginia product lines generated approximately $13.0 million in total operating surplus. 

  • Ridership for the first eight months is now 32,200 (approx.) less than the same period last year. For the year so far, ridership is 26,344.900 (since Amtrak rounds off to the nearest hundred). Fuel prices went up slightly during the period.

  • Despite the Senate having passed legislation that would mandate that the Southwest Chief remain intact, Amtrak’s management insists the bustitution is the best solution. In a meeting with officials in Colfax County, NM Executive Vice President Gardner said that the Amtrak Board has mandated that no train can run on any section that does not have PTC, even those that the FRA has exempted from needing PTC. Amtrak then denied that this was said in a communication to NARP saying that President Anderson’s testimony to Congress still allowed for exceptions, however, the slide presentation that was shown at the meeting, clearly states that Amtrak would not run a train over any section without PTC. So either Gardner lied when incriminating the Amtrak Board, or Anderson committed perjury when he testified before Congress. Amtrak meanwhile is spending money to determine how to turn the train at Dodge City KS. The Bustitution will cost a lot more money to operate than the current system. But when it comes to destroying the long distance network, no expense is spared. 

  • There are now 22 Viewliner Diners that have been delivered by CAF which with the original Viewliner Prototype (the Indianapolis) makes 23 diners available. A total of 11 of these are actually being used, including 3 on the Lake Shore Limited as a first class dining car. The other 12 are being used either an axel count on certain tracks (needed to make the signals work) or pushing up weeds at Hialeah.

  • Congress returned September 4, 2018. The Senate has passed three minibus packages of appropriations. The House needs to conference each one and send them to the President. There are problems in the House on each, where certain riders were added that are anthemia to the Democrats in both the House and Senate as well as some moderate Republicans. NARP indicates that they are having some success in persuading Congress to accept the Senate figures and amendments that pertain to Amtrak.


Steve Musen

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