Amtrak Revenue Falling Short; Boardman Orders Department Heads to Reduce Spending by 3.8%

Amtrak President Joseph Boardman has directed department heads at the passenger railroad to cut their spending by 3.8 percent and warned that further budget cuts lie ahead.

In a letter sent within the company, Boardman blamed bad weather and low gasoline prices, which have resulted in less-than-budgeted revenue.

Amtrak logoAmtrak ended Fiscal Year 2015 on Oct. 1 with a $305 million operating loss, which was $70 million worse than planned. The FY 2016 budget expects an operating loss of $245 million.

“We are going to need to take more aggressive actions to reduce our costs, some of which may be painful to take,” Boardman wrote.

Boardman said that low gasoline prices mean that some who would take the train are now driving short distances or flying long distances.

In particular, Boardman said, Amtrak had a “disappointing” Thanksgiving travel period. The letter also said a massive East Coast snowstorm in January disrupted service.

“Our company needs cash to pay our daily expenses, and our cash position is becoming a concern,” Boardman wrote.

An Amtrak spokeswoman said it would be premature to conclude that Amtrak will impose layoffs.

Boardman’s letter said Amtrak will make “all necessary investments” for employee and customer safety.

Among the cost-cutting mandates that Boardman cited are eliminating nonessential business travel and asking employees to conduct business by phone or video conference.

He also recommended delaying new costly projects and making new hires.

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