Quantcast

December Monthly Performance Report is out

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

Paulus

Conductor
Joined
Jul 13, 2012
Messages
1,469
Linkage

System ridership is up 4.1%, 6.1% adjusted, and 2.7% up compared to budgeted. Revenues are up 12.4% vs last December and 4.7% vs budget.

Ridership is .6% up on LD trains, revenue 4.4%.

Acela ridership is up 15.5% and this is 13.3% higher than budgeted, so it's not likely a bounce back effect. Revenue is 17.1% higher as a result. Northeast Regional is an adjusted 8.7% and 14.6% respectively. Acela is doing extremely well so far this year. Amtrak is attributing much of it to flights being impacted by weather.

Major jumps for Vermonter, 15.8% and 21.1%.

California: Capitol Corridor did terribly, -13.2% and +3.1%. Adjusted drop of only 0.6% though. Adjusted San Joaquin up 6.9% and 2.8%, Surfliner down .4% but revenue up 10%.

Pennsylvanian has major gains of 14.9% and 23.4%.
 

Crescent ATN & TCL

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 29, 2008
Messages
691
Location
Tuscaloosa/Lincoln, AL
That's good news. If I were at Amtrak I would focus on using any surplus on NEC infrastructure and LD equipment. Investing in infrastructure outside Amtrak owned assets tends to benefit the freight railroads more than Amtrak. While increasing capacity on trains outside of the nec tends to help revenue and ridership numbers. Taking care of NEC bottlenecks and replacing older maintenance intensive equipment seems to be the best way to go. Using good months to Finance these upgrades in equipment and Amtrak owned infrastructure seems like the best option.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
N

Nathanael

Guest
Things I noticed:

(1) The people constructing the budget have, again, been slightly over-optimistic (for the third year in a row, I think). Repeatedly, on multiple financial measures, Amtrak is doing better than it did in last year -- a lot better -- but not quite as good as budgeted!

(2) OTP has collapsed. This has to be reversed.

(3) We continue to discover that the passenger counts using 'e-ticketing' for multi-ride tickets are very different from the former 'estimates' used.

(4) Bear, Albany, and Chicago are all ahead of schedule; Beech Grove is behind schedule, again. Remind me what Beech Grove can do that no other better-located Amtrak shop can do?

(5) The following host railroads failed to run any trains within the PRIIA delay minute standards for the quarter:

- Metro-North

- MBTA

- Metra

- Metrolink

- Coaster

- RailRunner

- SunRail

- Tri-Rail

- State of Michigan

- CN

I rag on the Class Is a lot, but the commuter railroads really aren't doing their part lately.

Apart from Buckingham Branch, all the shortlines performed within the delay standards -- kudos to VTR, NECR, and Pan Am.

Once again, NS is the best of the class Is IMO; all of the routes showing delays outside the delay standard are routes running through Englewood Crossing. When Englewood Flyover is completed at the end of 2014, the numbers should be impressive.

BNSF is having problems with slow orders on the Pacific Surfliner and on the Quincy trains, indicating bad maintenance practices; this shouldn't be happening on these heavily used tracks.

UP is doing pretty decently, with understandable levels of problems.

CN, CSX, and CP just seem to be running freights ahead of passenger trains. Particularly CSX, which is full of "freight train interference" on double-tracked lines which are grade-separated from crossing train traffic.
 

afigg

Conductor
Joined
Jun 8, 2009
Messages
5,896
Location
Virginia
The ridership and revenue numbers for the month of December in 2013 are distorted for comparisons to December, 2012 because Thanksgiving fell on the latest possible date in November with the heavy travel days of the Sunday and Monday after Thanksgiving falling on December 1 and 2. A better ridership and ticket revenue comparison for routes would be for the combined months of November and December or the entire quarter. However, the shutdowns due to Sandy will mess up comparisons for Oct & Nov for the eastern routes, so there will be artifically large increases for the NEC for the quarter as a whole.

Just have to keep this in mind when looking at the ridership and revenue numbers. I may post comparison comments for the corridor and LD trains for the entire quarter later.

For the overall financial results, December was a very good month as was the entire quarter. The adjusted loss is actually a surplus for December and $24 million for the first 3 months of the year. Quite remarkable, although it should change to an increasing adjusted loss through the rest of the FY. Part of surplus is due to underspending on capital projects and payments in the first 3 months. The report attributes this to the "timing" (aka delays) in making progress payments on the ACS-64s and new projects.

The Acela and NE Regionals had a very, very good month. Both blew pass the budget projections for ridership and revenue. Here is what the December report has to say on the Acelas which pulled in $47.5 million in ticket revenue in December alone (boldface mine):

"Acela had strong year-over-year growth in December FY14. Ridership was +16% vs last year and +13% vs Budget. Acela ticket revenues were +20% vs last year and +14% vs Budget. The first half of the month was very strong on Acela due in part to the wintry weather that impacted the airlines more than Amtrak. This resulted in some travel diversions from the airlines to Acela, especially in the endpoint markets. In particular, the ten-day period of Dec 4-13 was the highest of any ten-day period in Acela’s history and included the best single day ever in Acela’s history on December 5. Acela first class ridership was +24% vs last December; business class ridership was +15% vs last year. Ridership in the segment north of New York was +22% vs last year, +13% in the segment south of New York, and +8% in through New York markets which is still being impacted by competitive JetBlue air service between Boston and Philadelphia (ridership in this market was down 8% year-over-year). The northend endpoint market of NY-Boston was +30% vs last December. The south end endpoint market of NY-Washington +17% vs last year."

In the statement on the Regionals, it says "Ridership and ticket revenues were +5% and +6% respectively vs Budget. Business class ridership was +11% and coach class ridership was +7% vs last year." Interesting that business class ridership was up more than coach. Due to mostly more business travelers taking the Regionals or mostly to people willing pay the upgrade?

According to the Route Performance report, the Acela and NE Regionals have generated a fully allocated net surplus of $143.5 million for the first quarter. That helps to pay the bills.

As noted, On-Time Performance is going in the wrong direction. It is system-wide, so there is no one corridor or reason for it. January 2014 OTP is really going to suck. Amtrak is really going to have to focus on fixing OTP where they can. However, there are HSIPR funded track improvement projects that will finally get started in 2014 that will likely contribute to 2014 being a bad year for OTP.
 

jis

Conductor
AU Lifetime Supporter
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
26,611
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
How could the Acela results not be excellent, what with our own illustrious AlanB single-handedly boosting ridership just to reach Select Executive :giggle: :lol:
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Steve4031

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Aug 27, 2002
Messages
5,912
Location
Chicago
I helped too. I rode it 3 times in one weekend in November. And once in December. And I live in Chicago. .
 

Paulus

Conductor
Joined
Jul 13, 2012
Messages
1,469
Couple things I noticed: Lynchburger trains are at about a 200% fare box recovery level while the Carolinian is actually running pretty much break even for ticket fares vs expenses. Some extra capacity would easily push it into reliable profit territory.
 

afigg

Conductor
Joined
Jun 8, 2009
Messages
5,896
Location
Virginia
With the peak Thanksgiving travel period extending in December in 2013, the monthly comparisons for November and December to 2012 are distorted. Since 2012 also had Hurrixcane Sandy effects, I'm comparing the entire quarter for ridership, which also provides a larger baseline.

Ridership Overview for the October 2013 to December 2013 quarter

System totals in ridership and revenue in numbers, over FY13 quarter, over/under budget

NEC Spine: 3,047K passengers, +10.8% (adjusted), +2.9% budget; $308.7M revenue, +12.5%, +1.1% budget

State Supported: 3,696K passengers, +1.0% (adjusted), -2.3% budget; $125.5M revenue, +3.1%, -3.6% budget

LD Trains: 1,145K passengers, -2.8%, -4.7% budget; $126.8M revenue, -0.2%, -6.1% budget.

Drop in ridership for the Surfliner, Capital Corridor, Cascades, Wolverine were the leading contributors to the state supported corridors underperforming on budget projections for ridership and revenue.

A poor quarter for the LD trains as a group.

Corridor services with an increase (over adjusted) in ridership with a few numbers

Acela: 928.4K, +16.8%, +6.4% over budget

NE Regional: 2,108K, +8.0%, +1.1% over budget

(eastern trains)

Ethan Allen

Vermonter

Albany-Niagara Falls-Toronto

Empire Corridor

Adirondack

Downeaster

New Haven-Springfield

Keystone

WAS-Lynchburg

Combined VA Regional WAS-NPN, WAS-NFK, WAS-RVR services: 180K passengers, +8% increase as a set

Pennsylvanian

(midwest and west)

Chicago-St. Louis

Hiawatha

Blue Water

Corridor services with a decline (over adjusted) in ridership

Carolinian (service interruptions for track work)

Wolverine (service disruptions for track work)

Pere Marquette

Chicago-Carbondale

Chicago-Quincy

Hoosier State

Heartland Flyer

Cascades

Pacific Surfliner

Capitol Corridor

San Joaquin

The dominant pattern is growth in the eastern corridor trains but declines in the Midwest and West Coast. The service interruptions due to Sandy are boosting the y-to-y comparisons for the eastern trains. Given that, this may have been a very soft quarter for Amtrak outside of the NEC.

LD Trains

Ridership increase for the quarter: Cardinal (barely), Capitol Limited, Palmetto, Crescent, Auto Train.

Ridership decrease for the quarter: Star, Meteor, EB (not a surprise), CZ, SWC, CONO, TE, SL, CS, LSL.
 

henryj

Conductor
Joined
Dec 19, 2008
Messages
1,589
Location
Houston, Texas
Since December is out, I did my analysis of the LD trains which is all I care about. Monthly numbers tend to be too distorted so I am only doing this quarterly. Highest revenue was the Auto Train of course, next was the EB, CZ and SWC. Biggest operating losses were the CZ, SWC, EB and Capitol. After that most loses were in the 2.5 to 3 mil range. Best performers were the CONO and the Palmetto. Of course Auto Train makes an operating profit. Overall percent operating cost recovery was around 78%. Total revenue was 136mil, operating costs were 174mil and operating loss was 37mil. Amtrak lists fully allocated costs at 271mil if you want to believe that and fully allocated losses at 134mil. As I have stated before, these numbers are all based on Amtrak reports, including the operating cost estimates which Amtrak chooses not to publish but did disclose in various other reports from time to time. I think it is a worth while exercise to perform, since the LD trains are always under the gun. It's never as bad as the media reports. Most of the big losers make the list because of their long and expensive to run routes. The Capitol made the list this time because it's ridership and revenue are way down. The CONO does better than the Eagle even though it takes in less revenue, simply because it's route is 370 miles and 12 hours shorter and thus is cheaper to run.
 
N

Nathanael

Guest
LD Trains

Ridership increase for the quarter: Cardinal (barely), Capitol Limited, Palmetto, Crescent, Auto Train.

Ridership decrease for the quarter: Star, Meteor, EB (not a surprise), CZ, SWC, CONO, TE, SL, CS, LSL.
I tend to consider anything under 3% to be meaningless fluctuation, unless it persists several years in a row.

This leaves:

Silver Star (-3.9%) and Silver Meteor (-3.5%) which are suffering from SunRail construction. This sort of disruption will drive people away for several years -- ridership doesn't rebound immediately when the disruption ends. We can expect more declines for a few years (sigh).

Empire Builder (-8.6%) of course.

Capitol Limited (+4.5%) -- rerouted passengers from expensive/full/disrupted LSL? End of CSX tunnel work? Something involving pricing? Anyway, good news, as the Capitol has tended to underperform in past years.

California Zephyr (-5.3%) -- worrisome and I'm not entirely sure why. Also has been losing riders for a while IIRC.

Texas Eagle (-5.1%) -- weren't there disruptions recently? That's probably it.

Coast Starlight (-5.9%) -- again, worrisome and I'm not entirely sure why. Also has been losing riders for a while IIRC.

Crescent (+6.3%) -- well, that's nice -- continuing effect of the Lynchburg train, perhaps?

The regional corridors have had much more dramatic shifts in ridership. Leaving out the ones which changed less than 3% (on adjusted ridership) gives a whole bunch which probably are benefiting from post-Sandy rebound in the Northeast and Southeast, along with the hard-to-decipher Virginia services. Leaving those out, Wolverines were hurt by track conditions and construction disruption in Michigan, and the same construction disruptions diverted passengers to the Blue Water. Excluding all of those, I see:

Hiawatha (+4.5%) -- well, that's nice. Damn Scott Walker, by the way.

Capitol Corridor (-4.2%) -- this route has really been hurting.

Hoosier State (-14.4%) -- Amtrak's Least Popular Route will probably continue losing passengers until it's improved

Pere Marquette (-5.9%) -- bad PR spilling over from the Wolverine delays?

Carolinian (-10.6%) -- no post-Sandy rebound here. I think it was cancelled several times in Oct-Dec 2013, was that it?

If anyone has any ideas why the CZ and CS are hurting, I'd love to hear them.
 

Anderson

Conductor
Joined
Nov 16, 2010
Messages
9,597
Location
Virginia
While it's not improbable that a few dozen, maybe even a few hundred, rides over the last few months of the year on the Acela were a result of a combo of points runs for status and pre-12/31 "card burning" with upgrades, the effects there are too large (and too sustained) to really attribute to anything minor like that. This may, however, play some role in the spike in first class ridership being a bit stronger.

Due to all the issues with both Sandy and Thanksgiving sliding around, I'm taking the first quarter of 2013 as a single unit. I agree with some others on here: The noise has just been too much to really analyze each month as a stand-alone unit, and I'd have to make a redundant caveat on half of the routes as a result.

The NEC
The Acela: It's hard to overstate how stunning the Acelas' performance over the last few months has been, at least on paper. The "hard spike" in the Acelas' ridership is nothing short of stunning. While a decent portion of it is likely an artifact of Sandy and the Thanksgiving Slide, the weather, and a bunch of other incidental factors, ridership is still up around 8.5% vs. FY12 (i.e. two years ago). A notable standout on both the Acelas and the Regionals has been the improvement of ridership on the north end (NYP-BOS was +30% on the Acela and +22% on the Regional in December). Notably, however, October was also a strong month (even accounting for Sandy); ridership for the three months has been 342,795 (October), 302,779 (November), and 282,831 (December).

On the revenue side, things are also looking strong. For December, PPR was $168.01 (vs. $161.39 last year), though this was likely an artifact of the first class situation. Year to date, it has been $161.78 (vs. $162.07 last year), though last year's numbers were notably messed with due to the Sandy effects.

Regionals: As usual, there's a lot of redundancy with the Acelas. Ridership is up on almost all segments, and December was about as strong as November, even without Sandy getting involved. The ridership increase wasn't as dramatic as the Acelas, but (A) the Regionals lost some riders due to the accounting shift, (B) there's a far larger ridership base, and © the Regionals have added about 600,000 riders since FY08 while the Acela has been flat.

In both cases, it will be interesting to see how the next few months pan out and whether substantial ridership bumps can be sustained. I don't see them continuing at this level, but it wouldn't be unbelievable to see the Regionals end up at +4% for the FY13.

Short Corridors
Broadly speaking, there's not a lot of news here. You have a few corridors in the NE that are up sharply, period. Beyond that, a large number of corridors are muddled by the bad data on multi-ride tickets.

The Empire Service is having the best year of any single corridor. Ridership is up 13-15% (depending on which base you use for last year), and revenue is up roughly in line with this. The rest of the NEC-based corridors are generally showing a strong year after accounting for the ridership adjustments, though at the same time they're also mostly showing a drop in ridership pre-adjustment; the biggest example of this effect here has been on the Keystones, which have seen 45,000 riders vanish into the ether. The Pennsylvanian is having a good year as well, as the effects of the loud "YOU HAVE A TRAIN" reminder that the fight over the train's future provided seem to still be working their way through the system.

The big exception has been the Carolinian, which got trashed in November (due to continuing trackwork issues). However, it is a clear outlier in the East.

In Virginia, the news this year has been good. As usual, ignore the individual route comparisons for the Richmond-Hampton Roads trains. Combined, the three routes had 64,421 riders in December 2012 and 167,765 riders YTD in FY13. In December 2013, the combined total was 67,696 (+5.1%) and YTD in FY14 the combined total has been 179,974 (+7.3%). Last year's YTD revenue was $9.95m, while YTD it has been $10.93m (+9.9%). The improved revenue picture is likely down to a bit more longer-distance ridership into Norfolk, plus the fact that the Norfolk train isn't running its startup special this year.

On the other side of the state, the Lynchburger has had a good year so far (revenue up 12%, ridership up 7.2%, p
utting PPR up 4.4%). The train may make a run at 200k this year; it remains to be seen how close it can actually get.

The Midwest is a mixed bag. Some routes are doing well (the Hiawathas and Blue Water), some so-so (the Lincoln Service), and some not so well (the Woverine, the Pere Marquette, and the Hoosier State). In the case of the badly-performing routes, I'm going to single out the Hoosier State as getting the "Espee Treatment" from Amtrak. Based on what I've heard about Amtrak botching up the crew handling, Amtrak very much deserves either to lose this contract or to have IN start micromanaging its services. Shame on Amtrak's handling here.

Going out west, it's depressingly bad news all around YTD, with all four western corridors showing ridership drops. To be fair, a lot of this was down to the accounting ****, but the poor revenue performance is also a bad sign. December was better (the Cascades and San Joaquin showed ridership increases, and the Surfliner and Capitol Corridor nearly broke even in terms of ridership post-adjustment; all four routes showed a bump in revenue for the month, with the Surfliner leading the way). Given how toxic November was (and that October wasn't much better), it looks like at least some of this is down to the holiday slide, so I'm generally going to brace for the worst out here for the rest of the year.

Long Distance
There's a lot of bad news with some bright spots thrown in. The good spots were the Capitol Limited (ridership up 4.5% YTD and 9.2% in December), the Crescent (ridership up 6.3% YTD and 4.9% in December), and the Auto Train (ridership up 2.0% YTD and 7.2% in December). The Silvers lagged, with the Palmetto likely gaining some from the Meteor's (and to a lesser extent the Star's) issues.

Everyone else is having a middling-to-bad year, with the Builder getting the award for worst results year over year. The Starlight comes in second on this front, likely in part due to connections there going to pieces, though it had its own issues in December. It really looks like the LD trains are set for their roughest year in an extremely long time.


Outlook
January is going to be utter hell on the LD system, and it's probably going to be bad for the Midwest trains as well. In both cases, I would not be surprised to see ridership slides in the 5-10% range on a number of routes. With that said, the LDs are going to get a bit of help from the number of folks who were diverted to Amtrak by the storms.

With that in mind, I would not be surprised to see the eastern trains get a good bump in ridership from the storms. IIRC, the disruptions to Amtrak in and around the NEC were pretty limited (there were a day or two of cancelled Acelas, but that was about it) while the airlines got messed up by the weather pretty badly.
 

Anderson

Conductor
Joined
Nov 16, 2010
Messages
9,597
Location
Virginia
A quirky observation: The revenue figures in VA on page A-3.5 (i.e. the YTD ridership/revenue page) were:
WAS-LYH: $3.626m

WAS-NPN: $6.240m

WAS-NFK: $2.066m

WAS-RVR: $2.624m

Down on page C-1 (the route performance report):
WAS-LYH: $3.4m (-0.2m)

WAS-NPN: $7.1m (+0.9m)

WAS-NFK: $2.6m (+0.6m)

WAS-RVR: $2.7m (+0.1m)

In the case of the RVR trains, that reads as "no material subsidy" to me ($100k isn't an unreasonable take for the cafes, and it's entirely possible that we're looking at even less difference there), with the subsidies being handed off to the NPN/NFK trains. This makes sense, as the three trains together are posting a profit for the year at the moment...it's all VA, they share tracks and stations, so allocating expenses is largely academic.

In the case of the Lynchburger...wait, did Amtrak just pay Virginia money there? I know it's probably a case of moving deckchairs (VA has expressly expected that surpluses from the Lynchburger would help underwrite other service in the state), but it's bizarre to see that actually come out on paper if this is, in fact, correct.
 
Top