Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The cost of running Acela

I'm really not certain why I didn't realize this earlier, but the fixed formation consist that Acela uses allows for a simple calculation of its running costs using Amtrak's reported financial figures. Simply find the number of seat-miles using the total contribution and contribution per seat-mile and then divide the number of seat-miles by the 304 seats on an Acela train set.

FY2009 (Page C-1)
Total Revenue: $414,500,000
FRA Defined Costs: $135,900,000
Total Direct Costs: $252,200,000
Total Non-Direct Costs: $94,900,000
Contribution: $67,400,000
Contribution per seat-mile: $0.066
Total seat-miles: 1,021,212,121
Total train-miles: 3,359,250

FRA cost per train-mile: $40.46
Direct cost per train-mile: $75.08
Non-direct costs per train-mile: $28.25

According to Amtrak:
-Total FRA Defined Costs represents Host Railroad MofW and Performance Incentives, Fuel and Power, T&E Crew, OBS and Commissary costs, Car and Locomotive maint. and Turnaround Costs, Commissions, Reservations, Call Centers, Psgr Inconvenience, and Route Stations
-Total Remaining Direct Costs include Shared Stations, MoE Supervision and Training, Maintenance of Way, Yard Ops, Marketing and Distribution, Insurance, Terminal Payments, Procurement/Purchasing, Police/Environmental and Safety, and T&E Overhead.
-Total Non-Direct Costs includes Amtrak Infrastructure Maintenance and System costs.

There is an additional $20,138,000 located in the mechanical report which is attributed to the Acela Program; if applicable, as by a hiding of maintenance costs in the capital budget, it would represent an additional $5.99 per train-mile.

As pointed out by the DOT OIG, these costs are almost entirely methodologically allocated rather than by strict assignation. As an example, there is not a tracking of fuel or power usage by a particular locomotive journey that is consequently assigned to the responsible route, but rather all such expenditures are pooled together and allocated according to formula. As a result, these costs may over or understate the true costs.

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