Amtrak delivers best operating performance in company history

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PVD

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Notwithstanding the endless stream of commentary that will likely appear over the next few days over Amtrak accounting, 2 things do hit me. I am surprised that ridership is up to that degree, given some pretty rough patches in operations. The fiscal year closed before the start of the new dining plan, it will be interesting to see what next year looks like.
 

Thirdrail7

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I've been waiting for this information to become public. Now, you have it.

https://media.amtrak.com/2019/11/improved-safety-and-customer-experience-drive-record-amtrak-ridership/

Here are a few highlights:

Amtrak delivers best operating performance in company history
WASHINGTON – Through continued investment in safety and the customer experience, Amtrak delivered its best operating performance in company history this past fiscal year. The company set new records for ridership, revenue, and financial performance on its path to achieve operational breakeven in fiscal year 2020. Preliminary results for fiscal year 2019 (Oct. 2018-Sept. 2019) include:

Safety: Implemented a Safety Management System and expanded Positive Train Control (PTC) operations, resulting in improvements in a broad range of safety metrics
Capital Investment [1]: $1.6 billion, 9.4% higher than last year’s investment
Ridership: Set a company record providing 32.5 million customer trips, a year-over-year increase of 800,000 passengers
Operating Earnings [1]: ($29.8 million), The best operating performance in history, improving earnings by $140.9 million or 82.6% over FY 2018, which was ($170.6 million)
Total Operating Revenue [1] : $3.3 billion, increased 3.6% over FY 2018
Despite the cuts, revenue still continues to climb. I can't wait to see the year to year train comparison and the service line comparison.


Initial terminal performance was strong with 93% of trains across the system departing on time. The strongest performance was on the NEC, where trains departed on time from Washington, DC, more than 97% of the time.

NEC and State Supported lines all experienced record growth in ridership, with Acela leading the charge at 4.3%, Northeast Regional at 2.9% and State-Supported services at 2.4%. Long Distance ridership was up nearly 1%.

This year, Amtrak received a credit upgrade to ‘A’ from S&P and an affirmation of an ‘A1’ credit rating by Moody’s, reflecting significantly reduced operating losses and a stronger balance sheet, with no net debt. Fiscal year 2019 is also the first full year in which all congressionally-mandated state and commuter partner cost-sharing agreements have been in effect.

“We are growing and modernizing Amtrak. We have an industry-leading safety program and have invested billions in improving the customer experience, resulting in more people choosing Amtrak as their preferred mode of transportation,” said Amtrak Board Chair Tony Coscia. “These changes have put us on track to breakeven in 2020, which would be a first in Amtrak’s history.”

Long Distance ridership is up even though they've cut the consists, altered the amenities and canceled a fair amount of trains due to various disruptions. I wonder what it would look like if they didn't cancel entire routes because of a storm.

It is no surprise Acela ridership is up. What do you expect when you add Acels trips and cut the consists of the regionals, pushing people to the Acela?

At any rate, we're already getting an idea of what they think will close the revenue gap and charge towards breaking even by 2020. After all, this fiscal year will include more flexible dining and increased fares. The results will likely help close the gap....assuming ridership doesn't drop.

According to this report, revenue and ridership didn't drop.
 

pennyk

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MODERATOR NOTE: There were 2 threads on this same topic. We have merged the 2 topics into one thread.
 

Anderson

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I've been waiting for this information to become public. Now, you have it.

https://media.amtrak.com/2019/11/improved-safety-and-customer-experience-drive-record-amtrak-ridership/

Here are a few highlights:



Despite the cuts, revenue still continues to climb. I can't wait to see the year to year train comparison and the service line comparison.





Long Distance ridership is up even though they've cut the consists, altered the amenities and canceled a fair amount of trains due to various disruptions. I wonder what it would look like if they didn't cancel entire routes because of a storm.

It is no surprise Acela ridership is up. What do you expect when you add Acels trips and cut the consists of the regionals, pushing people to the Acela?

At any rate, we're already getting an idea of what they think will close the revenue gap and charge towards breaking even by 2020. After all, this fiscal year will include more flexible dining and increased fares. The results will likely help close the gap....assuming ridership doesn't drop.

According to this report, revenue and ridership didn't drop.
Well, ridership is up on the LD trains, but:
(1) I am wondering about the makeup of that ridership. I'll want year-end numbers on a route-by-route basis, since if it is (for example) the East Coast routes (Meteor, Star, Crescent, Palmetto) that are up that could easily be due to ridership moving around a la the Acelas. I'd be curious to see pax-miles on those routes (e.g. are we looking at longer-distance traffic being displaced). NB: Lots of shorter-haul riders might actually increase PPR due to getting more cash per occupied seat-mile.
(2) From what I can tell, the only amenity changes prior to Oct. 1 were the Contemptible Dining being implemented on the Cap and the LSL and the axing of the PPCs.
(3) I am also curious as to the sleeper/coach ridership makeup. I know it isn't a large portion of ridership but the revenue impact there is outsized. This feeds back into the "quality" of the ridership (in terms of PPR and the like).

As to the Acelas (and Regionals), I'll be curious to see what the PPR (and overall ridership) looks like in both cases.

The overall fiscal picture was "helped", IIRC, by not having the negative effects of the 501 crash (which I think hurt the FY18 figures).

And barring a surprise, I think FY2020 is probably going to show the first operating profit in Amtrak history. We're close enough in there right now; honestly, if it had "normal" Acela revenue numbers, the Acela Nonstop alone would come close to plugging the remaining gap. Continuing trends on Regionals and the like really should do the rest, even if the LD trains take a modest net hit in terms of ridership and revenue.
 

crescent-zephyr

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I mean.. it doesn't take a genius to figure out that cutting employees and services will reduce expenses.

As long as we can keep the trains running, I think there is hope. Once they start cancelling trains (Sunset, Chief, etc.) it's a lost cause.
 

adamj023

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Amtrak released Preliminary results for FY 2019 today. While an official breakdown is not yet available the operating loss is an amazing $29.8 Million which is an 82% improvement from FY 2018. Ridership is at a record 32.5 million. $Revenue at 3.3 Billion.

Link below.

https://media.amtrak.com/2019/11/improved-safety-and-customer-experience-drive-record-amtrak-ridership/
What Amtrak should do is see if adding any new routes will lead to ridership growth that exceeds buildout costs and cut out stations and routes that are non profitable. To me, airfares are low enough that for most routes. airplane is more viable. I realize there is still a need for a national rail backbone but costs should be reduced further.
 

chrsjrcj

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It only took 20 years, but it looks like the Acela is finally doing what it was intended to do in regards to Amtrak's operating losses. Hopefully this gives them the leverage they need in Congress to receive additional investment (and not just on the NEC).
 

Anderson

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I noted this in the other thread, but it looks like there's a good chance that the "gains" on the LD side were down to Amtrak opening up space in the LD trains SB NYP-WAS (something that wasn't previously the case). Note that a 1% increase in ridership would be around 35k; with 3.5 trains/day affected, it wouldn't be hard to see most or all of the increase "hide" there.
 

Thirdrail7

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We need to wonder if some of the reduced operating loss is the result of dafered maintenance ?
According to their release, they have invested in SOGR initiatives:

Equipment: Invested $437 million to modernize and refresh the Amtrak fleet. Progressed manufacturing of the new Acela fleet currently underway in Hornell, New York; awarded a contract to purchase 75 new passenger diesel locomotives from Siemens to replace some of our aging National Network locomotive fleet;issued an RFP for a new fleet of single-level passenger rail vehicles to replace Amfleet I cars.

Stations: Invested $143 million to improve the customer experience at several stations throughout the network, including: the installation of a state-of-the-art digital board at William H. Gray III 30th Street Station; enhanced Metropolitan Lounges in Washington Union Station, Boston South Station, Gray 30th Street Station, and the Great Hall at Chicago Union Station; upgraded stations to enhance the customer experience through the Customer Now program; reached commercial close for $90 million of improvements at Baltimore Penn Station; and returned service to the historic Springfield (MA) Union Station, which included new passenger amenities.

Infrastructure: Invested $713 million in infrastructure projects throughout the country that were completed safely, on time, and within budget to improve overall reliability and performance. These state-of-good-repair projects included the repair or replacement of 24,080 ft. of catenary hardware, 79,985 concrete ties, 1,784 bridge ties, and 283 miles of high-speed surfacing.

Accessibility: Invested a record $78 million on ADA-related design and construction improvement projects at more than 40 locations nationwide, advancing efforts to make stations universally accessible.

Technology: Invested more than $110 million in technology, including an updated customer mobile app to make bookings and travel management faster and easier than ever before. Improved the on-board experience by offering assigned seating for customers traveling in Acela First class and started developing an omnichannel strategy to enable customers to easily complete purchases, access information and engage in transactions across multiple channels.
 

Anderson

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What's more, the operating loss wouldn't generally be affected by spending (or lack thereof) on the deferred maintenance front.
 

Just-Thinking-51

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Congratulations Amtrak. A good year. Even with all your fire sales, and cuts in train length and services, you had a record year.

With the a recession approaching, I would be worried about how to maintain current levels through this next down turn. Amtrak in the past has not dropped it fares when the demand for seats drop.
 

seat38a

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Hmmm proves one thing. No amount of boycotting or breadth holding on AU matters. :D With all of the alleged AU members no longer giving a penny to Amtrak, looks like Amtrak found others to take our place. Also, with on time performance improvements, I can't see Amtrak bringing back PV's like it used to anytime soon. Oh, and maybe more airline CEO's will be taking over in the future. :D

I'd like to see Delta One / Polaris style as a new class of service between coach and sleeper.
 

seat38a

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Amtrak released Preliminary results for FY 2019 today. While an official breakdown is not yet available the operating loss is an amazing $29.8 Million which is an 82% improvement from FY 2018. Ridership is at a record 32.5 million. $Revenue at 3.3 Billion.

Link below.

https://media.amtrak.com/2019/11/improved-safety-and-customer-experience-drive-record-amtrak-ridership/
$29.8 MILLION (Can't believe we are talking in millions) loss is pretty much a rounding error isn't it in the grand scheme of things. :D:D:D Might as well call it breakeven.

Based on this article: https://www.pressherald.com/2019/11/08/amtrak-reports-record-ridership-inches-closer-to-breaking-even/

Looks like Amtrak is expecting to earn a profit starting in 2020.
 

RichieRich

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Isn't the A/T actually making $$ ? Many of my trips a so full - have 4 dinner seatings. LOL No, I'm not setting my alarm to wake up and have dinner at 9:00!
 
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jis

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Who'd have thunk that one would ever read an article like that one on Amtrak finances in the WSJ. The normal fare back in the '80s and '90s was how many days of cash Amtrak had on hand before it would be unable to meet pachecks etc.
 

crescent-zephyr

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So what is the goal of Amtrak? To only operate corridors that make money (Acela etc.) or operate corridors that states are willing to subsidize?
 
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