January 2019 Amtrak Financial Report

  • The report was dated February 28, 2019 and posted on March 1, 2019.

  • The NEC generated for the first third of the fiscal year, a cash operating surplus of $188.515 million and the remainder of the system had a fully allocated cash loss of $219.335 million. Combined the entire system has a cash operating loss of $33.685 million. This means that in January the entire system lost $55.745 million for the entire month. For the fiscal year to date, the NEC made debt service payments of $71.782 million and capital expenditures of $264.861 million. Having received from the continuing resolutions $159.167 million, it has a remaining carryover balance of $81.729 million (plus the money from FY2018). The National Network Account made debt service of $14.724 million and capital investments of $241.055 million and has received from the Federal Government $314.814 million but is now in the red to the tune of $115.413 million. (It did have a carryover balance from FY2018) plus would have received significant funds in February when the Omnibus Appropriations was passed.

  • Capital Spending so far, has been: Infrastructure $189.1 million, Stations & Real Estate $37.2 million, Fleet $186.7 million, Information Technology $34.3 million, ADA $22.8 million (running $6 million ahead of last year’s record pace), Support of $2.8 million, Gateway $7.1 million ($1.1 million in January alone) and Avila $25.9 million ($3.8 million in January) for total capital expenditures of $505.9 million ($135.0 million more than the comparable period for FY2018).

  • The GAAP loss for the first four months appears to be $299.4 million. The adjusted operating earnings were $79.0 million better than the first four months of FY2019 which is slightly less ($2.8 million) than that reported at the end of December. (In other words, January 2019 fared worse than January 2018 when it came to cash operations).

  • The number of product lines showing a measurable operating surplus for the period has shrunk to 8 (from 11):

    • Acela $111.9 million

    • Northeast Regionals $82.5 million

    • Washington-Newport News $1.4 million

    • Washington-Lynchburg $1.4 million

    • Carolinian $0.8 million

    • Washington-Norfolk  $ 0.7 million

    • Washington-Richmond   $0.5 million

    • Vermonter $0.4 million

    • The four Virginia product lines generated a total of $4.0 million in operating surpluses.

  • Ridership for the first four months was more than 69,000 greater than the comparable period in FY2018. Note January 2019 was 18,000 less than January 2018. So far for the year, Amtrak has carried 10,646,6?? (Amtrak rounds to the nearest hundred). On the long distance trains, the Cardinal is still the biggest loser with ridership off 12.6% for the first four months. The Capitol was down 9.6%, the Palmetto lost 6.3% , the Builder off 5.8% and the Eagle 5.3%. The Lake Shore Ltd was also down 5.0%. The biggest winner was the Silver Star which is up 6.2%, followed by the Sunset up 5.3% and the Meteor up 4.6%.   

  • The Omnibus Bill funding the entire remaining portions of the government was passed in February 2019. Amtrak was appropriated $1,941,600,00 less some set asides for FRA Oversight and for funding two commissions. $400 million was allocated for the Federal State Partnership for State of Good Repair, $255 million for Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) and $5 million for Restoration and Enhancement Grants. The Conference Reports directed Amtrak to spend at least $50 million of these appropriations for capital improvements on the Southwest Chief Route between La Junta and Lamy, and to restore “Station Agents” at all stations where an agent was discontinued in 2018 and retains the language that long distance passenger rail routes should be retained to ensure connectivity throughout the National Network.

  • Amtrak finally released the $3 million that it had refused to pay (despite have committed to it under President Boardman) toward the Colfax TIGER Grant. This grant was matched by with money from BNSF, and from the states and locations served by the train.

  • Amtrak however is dragging its feet in restoring station agents at Havre and Shelby, Montana saying that the caretakers are “good enough”. Amtrak has also not added any cars to the New Haven-Springfield Shuttles despite having to kick off passengers because of the lack of any seats for them.

  • 91 members of Congress (including a few Republicans) have signed a letter to President Anderson demanding reasons why so many downgradings of service have occurred, with a deadline of March 9, 2019. 

 Steve Musen

State Representative from Rhode Island to NARP’s Council of Representatives