May 2019 Amtrak Financial Report

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

  • The report was dated June 28, 2019 but I caught it on June 30, 2019.

  • The NEC generated for the first eight months a cash operating surplus of $366.908 million (at least by their idea of a fully allocated accounting system) and the remainder of the system had a fully allocated cash loss of $417.840 million. Combined the entire system has a cash operating loss of $50.932 million. That combined loss has been increasing despite favorable ridership and lower operating costs in the Spring Months. (I guess the axing of so many Amtrak Workers had a finite financial benefit.) For the fiscal year to date, the NEC made debt service payments of $165.374 million and capital expenditures of $503.359 million. Having received Federal Grants of $262.888 million it has a remaining carryover balance of $90.108 million (plus the money from FY2018). The National Network Account made debt service of $23.128 million and capital investments of $527.572 million and have received from the Federal Government $694.411 million but is now in the red to the tune of $187.600 million. (It did have a carryover balance from FY2018).

  • Capital Spending so far has been: infrastructure $403.2 million, Stations & Real Estate $71.8 million, Fleet Maintenance $216.7 million, $138.7 million used for Fleet Acquisition, Information Technology $72.7 million, ADA $52.3 million (running $22.2 million ahead of last year’s record pace and for the first time actually meeting the Congressional Mandate of expending at least $50 million on ADA), Support of $6.5 million, Gateway $30.9 million ($17.4 million in May alone) and Avila (Acela 21) $38.1 million ($2.3 million in May) for total capital expenditures of $1,030.9 million ($221.5 million more than the comparable period for FY2018). The Fleet Acquisition would include the down payments for the new locomotives plus the purchase of some more Viewliner Equipment from CAF.

  • The GAAP loss for the first eight months appears to be $594.4 million. The adjusted operating earnings were $98.3 million better than the first eight months of FY2018 .

  • The number of product lines showing a measurable operating surplus for the period is back to 10 with the addition of Kansas City to St. Louis: {Which is kind of amazing given the flooding in Missouri)

    • Acela $225.3 million

    • Northeast Regionals $155.9 million

    • Washington-Newport News $3.1 million

    • Washington-Lynchburg $2.7 million

    • Carolinian $2.3 million

    • Washington-Norfolk $1.3 million

    • Washington-Richmond $0.9 million

    • Illini $0.5 million

    • Vermonter $0.4 million

    • Kansas City-St. Louis $0.1 million  

    • The four Virginia product lines generated a total of $8.0 million in operating surpluses. 

  • Ridership for the first five months was more than 430.300 greater than the comparable period in FY2018. So far for the year, Amtrak has carried 21,067,4XX (Amtrak rounds to the nearest hundred). On the long distance trains, the Palmetto is still the biggest loser with a drop-off of 11.6% followed by the Capitol Ltd with 5.0% (Nothing like late trains and lousy food to drive away customers). The biggest winner was the Silver Star which is up 8.3%, followed by the Crescent at 7.0% . The Crescent may have a horrible on time performance, but that dining car makes up for it.

  • Amtrak has announced that they are eliminating dining cars from all trains east of the Mississippi with the possible exception of the Auto Train. Instead, first class passengers will be treated to what Amtrak calls “Fresh and Contemporary” Dining, and what everyone else calls “unprintable”.

  • The Hoosier State was suspended on July 1, 2019. True to form it was late leaving Indianapolis on its last day.

  • Amtrak is burning up the tracks, quite literally in New Jersey, where one of the track laying machines caught fire. It is probably toast.

  • The House passed a minibus with strong support for Amtrak. Regrettably, this bill will not be voted on in the Senate.

  • The Senate may start to mark up some appropriation bills this month.


Steve Musen

Representative to NARP’s Council of Representatives from the state of Rhode Island