February 2019 Amtrak Financial Report

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

  • The report was dated March 28, 2019 and posted on March 29, 2019.

  • The NEC generated a cash operating surplus of $217.943 million and the remainder of the system had a fully allocated cash loss of $264.696 million. Combined, the entire system has a cash operating loss of $46.793 million. For the fiscal year to date, the NEC made debt service payments of $80.494 million and capital expenditures of $293.395 million. Having received Federal Grants of $255.601 million,it has a remaining carryover balance of $183.526 million (plus the money from FY2018). The National Network Account made debt service of $15.413 million and capital investments of $314.904 million and has received from the Federal Government $506.785 million; but is now in the red to the tune of $34.394 million (It did have a carryover balance from FY2018).

  • Capital Spending so far has been: Infrastructure $232.8 million, Stations & Real Estate $46.0 million, Fleet $117.8 million (after deduction of $92.1 million used for Fleet Acquisition), Information Technology $44.6 million, ADA $27.9 million (running $7.7 million ahead of last year’s record pace), Support $3.8 million, Gateway $13.9 million ($6.8 million in February alone), and Avila $25.9 million ($3.6 million in February) for total capital expenditures of $608.3 million ($133.3 million more than the comparable period for FY2018). The Fleet Acquisition would include the down payments for the new locomotives plus the purchase of more Viewliner Equipment from CAF. 

  • The GAAP loss for the first five months arrears to be $385.3 million. The adjusted operating earnings were $140.5 million better than the first five months of FY2019 .

  • The number of product lines showing a measurable operating surplus for the period has grew to nine from eight with the addition of the Illini:

    • Acela $132.5 million

    • Northeast Regionals $90.2 million

    • Washington-Newport News $1.6 million

    • Washington-Lynchburg $1.5 million

    • Carolinian $0.9 million

    • Washington-Norfolk $0.8 million

    • Washington-Richmond $0.5 million

    • Vermonter $0.4 million

    • Illini $0.4 million        

    • The four Virginia product lines generated a total of $4.4 million in operating surpluses.

  • Ridership for the first five months was at least 70,100 greater than the comparable period in FY2018. So far for the year, Amtrak has carried 12,806,100 (Amtrak rounds to the nearest hundred). On the long distance trains, the Cardinal is still the biggest loser with ridership off 11.6% for the first five months. The Capitol was down 9.7%, the Palmetto lost 8.9% , the Builder off 5.3% and the Eagle 5.8%. The Lake Shore Ltd was also down 4.3. The biggest winner was the Silver Starvation which is up 8.1%, followed by the Meteor up 4.2% and the Auto Train by 3.2% .   

  • The Trump Budget did not ZERO out Amtrak,  but did it no favors. The Long Distance Network is to be either phased out or the individual trains assumed by the states that they travel through. NEC funds are slashed almost in half, as are the remaining Nation System funds. The State of Good Repair Grants would be eliminated but CRISI would be funded. This budget is not likely to go anywhere.

  • Amtrak issued its annual request for funding. In it, it requested the full amounts in the Fast Act. It pointed out that would be spent as constricted to that amount of money. It also stated where additional money should be spent if granted. It also indicated that Congress should review the long distance network and that changes in that network would affect the capital outlays. Also issued were several five year plans.

  • The FRA and FTA have not been helpful towards the construction of Gateway Projects. The FRA has still not approved the EIS for the Gateway Tunnel despite saying it would do so a year ago. The FTA has rated both the new Hudson Tunnels and the North Portal Bridge as “local” projects and rated them of low value, thus making them ineligible for Capital Investment Grants. Time is running out before one or both tubes in the existing Hudson Tunnel will need to be shut down for an entire year or more for a complete rebuilding program. Loss of one tube would result in a 75% reduction of capacity; Loss of both tubes would sever all connections of New York Penn Station with the southern half of the NEC. 


Steve Musen

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