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 Investment1: $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 Earnings1: ($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 Revenue1: $3.3 billion, increased 3.6% over FY 2018
In fiscal year 2019, Amtrak was the first major U.S.-based railroad to implement a Safety Management System, a proactive approach to managing safety, resulting in significant improvements, including: a 26% reduction in customer incidents; 72% fewer serious employee injuries; a 10% reduction in Federal Railroad Administration reportable injuries; and a 3% reduction in trespasser and grade crossing incidents. Additionally, PTC installation was completed on nearly all Amtrak-owned and controlled track.
Another driver of this year’s success was the superior customer service delivered by Amtrak employees and a record $1.6 billion investment on capital assets. This includes: refreshed equipment, including the entire Acela fleet and Amfleet II cars for Coach class along the East Coast; technology upgrades like updating the Amtrak mobile app and offering assigned seating; state-of-good-repair work on the Northeast Corridor (NEC) improved overall reliability and performance; station upgrades and enhanced lounges; and other customer-friendly benefits that support the long-term growth of intercity passenger rail.
Additionally, Amtrak is undertaking the largest fleet renewal in history. Manufacturing continues on the new Acela fleet, a contract was awarded for 75 new locomotives to replace some of our aging National Network locomotive fleet, and a Request for Proposals (RFP) was issued for a new fleet of single-level passenger rail vehicles.
Amtrak customers noticed the improvements, with nearly 9 out of 10 customers surveyed expressing overall satisfaction with their experience. Amtrak achieved a year-over-year increase in customer satisfaction scores in many categories, including clean train interiors, restroom cleanliness, and information about delays. Acela and Northeast Regionalcustomers noticed improvements and were increasingly likely to recommend Amtrak to family, friends, and colleagues.
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.”
“We listened, we invested, we improved, and our customers are noticing a difference,” said Amtrak President & CEO Richard Anderson. “And we are not stopping. We have an aggressive plan to continue to advance our safety program, refresh train interiors, improve amenities, and renew stations and infrastructure.”
Amtrak highlights in fiscal year 2019 include:
- Safety: Implemented a comprehensive Safety Management System, resulting in improvements in a broad range of safety metrics. Completed PTC implementation on all Amtrak-owned and controlled track, except for less than one mile of slow-speed track in the complex Chicago terminal area.
- 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.
- Product Upgrades: Launched Acela Nonstop, expanded weekend Acela frequencies, completed an extensive $4 million refresh of train interiors on the entire Acela fleet, and fully-refreshed Amfleet II cars for Coach class along the East Coast.
- Service: Collaborated with our state partners to expand the Amtrak network, including: launched the Valley Flyer (a new state-supported service in Western Massachusetts); adjusted the San Joaquins schedule to better accommodate weekend leisure travelers; increased schedules on the Northeast Regional to Norfolk, Virginia, and the Downeaster; and added a new Green Bay-Milwaukee Amtrak Thruway Bus Service connecting with the Hiawatha trains.
- Sustainability: Exceeded or met all annual energy, fuel, recycling, and greenhouse gas emissions targets, with the support of all employees. Efforts such as lighting upgrades, reduced idling, and a focused recycling program helped Amtrak meet these targets and save money. Since 2010, Amtrak has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 17%.
Rod Washington Writer, filmmaker, model railroader, dreamer, posting videos and articles about trains. Also, posting railfanning videos and updates about his own model railroad layout via his webpage, the rail project (coming soon).