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URPA Special Report: Amtrak 2013 Results Analyzed

February 4th, 2014


Amtrak’s financial and operational results for FY 2013 (the 12 months ending September 30, 2013) are now available (audited FY ’13 annual financial statements will be released sometime in 2014). This URPA Special Report analyzes these results, together with extrinsic data compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

The 2013 results are especially useful to illuminate the performance of Amtrak’s three chief operating segments:

  • the Northeast Corridor (Richmond – Washington, D.C. – New York – Boston);
  • the various regional short corridors (e.g., the Pacific Surfliners, San Diego – Los Angeles – San Luis Obispo; or the Chicago-hub corridors to Milwaukee, St. Louis, Detroit, etc.); and
  • the interregional long distance trains (e.g., New York – Florida, or Chicago – Seattle/Portland).

Amtrak’s FY 2013 data show that measured by production of passenger transportation, i.e., the actual volume of transportation produced by the trains operated in these three segments, the NEC (contrary to popular belief and Amtrak representations) is the smallest, weakest and most heavily subsidized segment Amtrak operates. The interregional long distance segment is by far thelargest, strongest, least subsidized, and still the most underdeveloped segment that Amtrak operates. The non-NEC regional short distance corridors as a group also produce slightly more transportation output than does the NEC, but at a small fraction of the subsidy cost required by the NEC. See Table 1.

These results continue a consistent record of segment contribution dating from 1975.

Sections included

  • Table 1: 2013 Performance Metrics.
  • Figure 1: 2013 Passenger Miles (Output)
  • Figure 2: 2013 Load Factors
  • “Ridership” Numbers are Intrinsically Misleading
  • Ridership and Market Share
  • Financial Results

Selected Quotes

Amtrak’s data plainly shows that the NEC is Amtrak’s smallest segment… [and] that Amtrak produces much more inventory in the NEC than it is able to sell …Amtrak’s ridership and load factor data also proves that, since latent demand for long distance transport exceeds supply, Amtrak is under-invested in the long distance segment… The inescapable conclusion is that long distance trains perform far better financially than Amtrak reports, and the NEC segment far worse…

Full Report

The full report is available as a PDF file.

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