June 2019 Amtrak Financial Report

There has been an interesting development in the amount of Federal Grants paid to Amtrak. From the end of February 2019 to the end of Ma, 2019 there was been only a $7.2 million increase in the amount of Federal Grants paid to Amtrak’s NEC Account and $187.6 million paid to the National System. In June alone, Amtrak received $400.5 million for the NEC Account and $800.9 million for the National System account for a total of $1.205563 billion. The total grants received by the NEC now totals $663.4 million which is more than the $650 million appropriated for FY2019. The total received by National System account for this fiscal year now totals $1,499.3 million which also exceeds the $1,291.6 million appropriated. 


Of this money received, $232.6 million was from prior years appropriation, and $5.281 million from FRA/OST, FTA and Homeland Security. The total received from FY2019 Appropriations for both accounts was $1,924.892 million. If one subtracts the amounts from the total appropriations that go to pay for the two commissions and the amounts retained by the FRA for oversight, it would appear that all of the Federal Grant money to be paid directly to Amtrak in FY2019, has been paid. There could be some money from CRISI, State of Good Repair or Restoration and Enhancement paid in the rest of the year.


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

  • The report was dated July 31, 2019 but I caught it on August 1, 2019. Most likely posted on July 31, 2019.

  • The NEC generated for the first nine months a cash operating surplus of $416.1 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 $460.1 million. Combined the entire system has a cash operating loss of $44 million. That combined loss is $6.8 million less than that at the end of May, so it looks like June was profitable. For the fiscal year to date, the NEC made debt service payments of $169.2 million and capital expenditures of $568.7 million. Having received Federal Grants of $663.4 million it has a remaining carryover balance of $484.3 million (plus the money from FY2018). The National Network Account made debt service of $30.3 million and capital investments of $579.5 million and have received from the Federal Government $1,499.3 million and therefore retains $526.2 million plus the carryover balance from FY2018. With only three more months left in FY2019, it is safe to say that there are sufficient funds to continue to run the system at its current burn rate through December 2019 and probably beyond.

  • Capital Spending so far has been infrastructure $467.1 million, Stations & Real Estate $80.3 million, Fleet Maintenance $241.6 million, $138.8 million Fleet Acquisition, $81.7 million Information Technology, $57.1 million ADA (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), $7.5 million Support, $33.6 million Gateway ($2.7 million in June alone) and $40.8 million Avila (Acela 21) ($2.7 million in June) for total capital expenditures of $1,148.4 million ($217.0 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 nine months appears to be $660.0 million. The adjusted operating earnings were $29.1 million better than the first nine months of FY2018 .

  • The number of product lines showing a measurable operating surplus for the period is back to 9 with the loss of Kansas City to St. Louis: {A result of the flooding in Missouri)

    • Acela $256.0 million

    • Northeast Regionals $176.8 million

    • Washington-Newport News $3.7 million

    • Washington-Lynchburg $3.0 million

    • Carolinian $2.7 million

    • Washington-Norfolk $1.3 million

    • Washington-Richmond $1.0 million

    • Illini $0.5 million

    • Vermonter $0.5 million

    • The four Virginia product lines generated a total of $9.0 million in operating surpluses.

  • Ridership for the first nine months was more than 506,6XX greater than the comparable period in FY2018. So far for the year, Amtrak has carried 23,931,1XX (Amtrak rounds to the nearest hundred).

  • Palmetto is still the biggest loser with a drop-off of 11.6% followed by the Capitol Ltd with 5.2% (Nothing like late trains and lousy food to drive away customers). The biggest winner was (believe it or not) the Cardinal at 8.9% followed by the Silver Starvation which is up 7.3%, and the Crescent at 6.9% . 

  • Congress passed and the President signed a budget and debt limit agreement that allows Congress to pass the 12 budget bills. The House passed 2 minibuses and 1 stand alone bill but may have to pass separate bills to conform to the new legislation. The Senate Appropriations Committee has not yet unveiled any of their twelve bills.

  • Service was finally restored to New Orleans on the City of New Orleans. (It has intermittently been suspended since).

  • Amtrak received a grant to restore some tracks in Florida between Palatka and Deland with those tracks to be transferred eventually to Amtrak.

  • A fresh wave of anxiety was created with the news that all dining services east of the Mississippi (with the exception of the Auto Train) will either be eliminated or replaced by the drek known as Fresh and Contemporary. In all cases it will be limited to only the Sleeping Car Passengers. All coach passengers will have to settle for what passes for food in the Café Car.

  • There is some glimmer of hope that the legislation passed by both NY & NJ may free up some Federal Funds for the Gateway Project.

  • The EIS for Higher Speed Projects between NYC and Buffalo has been pushed back a year to 2020. (It has “only” been since 2014 that the Draft EIS was published. ) it should be ready at the same time that the final EIS on the new Hudson Tunnels are released. (May we all live that long!!)

  • RIDOT received a CRISI Grant of $2.8 million (to be matched by the State) to complete NEPA requirements and Preliminary Engineering at Hillsgrove (TF GREEN Airport stop on the MBTA).

Steve Musen

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