Amtrak CEO cites "best performance in history" as deficit drops (updated)

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Amtrak's westbound California Zephyr passes the Highlands Metra station in Hinsdale, Ill., on July 7, 2018. Amtrak's operating loss decreased in fiscal 2018.
TRAINS: David Lassen

WASHINGTON — Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson said his company posted “the best performance in Amtrak history” after the passenger railroad announced an operating loss of $168 million in fiscal 2018.

The loss, based on adjusted earnings — which do not include depreciation and other expenses — was an improvement of 13 percent over fiscal 2017. Amtrak’s fiscal year ended Sept. 30. Anderson, who has turned down all media interview requests since becoming CEO, made the comment in an interview with Bloomberg News.

Anderson told Bloomberg the losses would likely have been less than $100 million if not for two major accidents — the December 2017 crash of an Amtrak Cascades train in DuPont, Wash., that killed three people [see “NTSB: Amtrak ‘Cascades’ engineer applied brakes seconds before crash,” Trains News Wire, Dec. 22, 2017] and the February 2018 collision between the Silver Star and a parked CSX freight train that resulted in two fatalities. [See “NTSB: Misaligned switch directed ‘Silver Star’ into parked CSX auto rack train,” Trains News Wire, Feb. 4, 2018.]

Amtrak ridership narrowly missed a record with 31.7 million trips, while revenue increased 2.2 percent to $3.4 billion.


In a news release issued today on its financial performance, Amtrak also noted:

— $1.46 billion in capital investment, calling it “the highest level … in recent history;

— Installation of positive train control on more than 13,000 miles of the Amtrak network;

—  — More than $51 million spent on ADA-related projects at more than 100 locations nationwide;

—  — New seven-year contracts with its unions.

The company noted that regional and state-supported trains saw an increase in ridership, while long-distance trains were down 3.9 percent “due to the hundreds of trains truncated or canceled due to weather events, infrastructure outages, planned repairs, and poor on-time performance across much of the host railroad network used by Amtrak trains.”

The complete Amtrak release is available here.

— Updated 10:20 a.m. CST on Nov. 16 with additional details, link to Amtrak release.

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