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Amtrak allocations for trains getting more disputes

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Amtrak allocations for trains getting more disputes
Posted by blue streak 1 on Sunday, March 14, 2021 11:00 PM

Main item is that Amtrak is using accepted acconting practices for Earnst and Young but the APT ( Amtrak performance tracking ) is hiding allocations that are in conflict of what Congress has legislated.

Author has cited several misallocations that Amtrak is perpetuatig.

1. Wolverine track maintenance allocated to Capitol limited and LSL.

2.  Yard and equipments moves at NY and CHI charged to routes not served by those cities.

3.  NEC electric charges to routes that do not use NEC.

4.  Acela maintenance charged to trains and routes that do noot use acela.

5.  Track and maintenance charges to LD and state trains for NEC  but only 1% to NEC operations.

6.  LSL charged 3 times amount that Maple Leaf for maintenance NYP - Albany.  No mention of Albany - Hoffmans.

7.  A big one.  LSL and Empire builder sections  ALB - BOS and Spokane - Portland charged as another full distance train from CHI instead of combined portions.  Wonder about the Sunset and Texas Eagle west of San Antonia?

Article also list several state operations also in dispute.

Can there be more such possible misstatements ?.  

 

Is Amtrak Misleading America?. For decades, Amtrak has peddled the… | by Ed D'Amato | Mar, 2021 | Medium

 

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Posted by JPS1 on Monday, March 15, 2021 12:47 PM

Another article by a person that does not have access to Amtrak's books.  And without that access, he does not have firsthand knowledge for his conclusions.

Citing a 2009 report, as well as a 2016 report, both of which are history, assumes that Amtrak has not corrected the shortcomings highlighted in those reports.  Or any other IG audit report!  It is not a valid assumption.  

In 2020 – latest published numbers – the long-distance trains lost $649 million before depreciation, interest, and miscellaneous charges.  The numbers presented by the author total $13.8 million, which represents 2.1 percent of the 2020 loss.  Assuming the long-distance trains wear 10 percent of Amtrak’s depreciation, the fully allocated loss in 2020 would have been $788 million, and the misallocations as per the author would have been 1.8 percent of the total.  However, since we don’t know over how many accounting periods the errors occurred, assuming that they all occurred in 2020 is a worst-case scenario. 

Any accounting system produces some errors; the key question is whether they materially misstate the outcomes.  Based on the numbers presented in the article, the errors are not material. 

How accurate is APT?  Like the author I don't know; I don't have access to the company's books.  

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Posted by BaltACD on Monday, March 15, 2021 1:13 PM

Cost Accounting - The organizational entry into contemporary financial fiction.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Monday, March 15, 2021 2:16 PM

Why should we have confidence in the analysis and assertions of an environmental specialist with a masters degree in geology concerning cost allocation? 

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, March 15, 2021 3:31 PM

charlie hebdo
Why should we have confidence in the analysis and assertions of an environmental specialist with a masters degree in geology concerning cost allocation? 

Perhaps we shouldn't; certainly little more than we should have confidence in the doxxing skills of a professor of psychology who doesn't check credentials very carefully before making fun of them.Big Smile

The Ed d'Amato you want was a service advisor at Potamkin in my home town of Englewood, and his educational credential is graduation from 'Franklin Delenore' high school, which I am lamentably unable to trace, perhaps for the better.

This is the same guy making the same predictable claims as in years past (I see the classic chestnut about the Florida snow-removal allocation trotted out again) with the same predictable refutations on one hand and accounting-related conspiracy theories on the other.  You'd think we'd never been here before!

 

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Monday, March 15, 2021 8:58 PM

I don't see any reason why you need to be snide.  According to a related article in Train Orders,  Edward D'Amato is a sustainable transportation advocate and former president and board member of All Aboard OhioOhio's only statewide citizen advocacy organization for public transportation and passenger rail.

In short, without some demonstrable proof, it appears you are wrong. That is the d'Amato of various passenger service articles.  You are claiming he is some guy from Englewood,  NJ as opposed to this one in Ohio?  Or are they one and the same? 

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, March 15, 2021 10:21 PM

charlie hebdo
In short, without some demonstrable proof, it appears you are wrong.

www.linkedin.com

Believe me, I wasn't expecting it, either.  Perhaps the site that put the link up got it wrong - not the first time something like that has happened.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Monday, March 15, 2021 10:33 PM

Overmod

 

 
charlie hebdo
In short, without some demonstrable proof, it appears you are wrong.

 

www.linkedin.com

 

Believe me, I wasn't expecting it, either.  Perhaps the site that put the link up got it wrong - not the first time something like that has happened.

 

Not sure what you are saying. NJ or OH? 

Whoever the author is,  I sure wouldn't bet the house on his forensic accountancy skills. 

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Posted by BaltACD on Monday, March 15, 2021 10:53 PM

Overmod
 
charlie hebdo
In short, without some demonstrable proof, it appears you are wrong. 

www.linkedin.com

Believe me, I wasn't expecting it, either.  Perhaps the site that put the link up got it wrong - not the first time something like that has happened.

The internet wrong - how could that possibly happen? [/sarcasm]

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, March 16, 2021 12:34 AM

charlie hebdo
Not sure what you are saying. NJ or OH?

The Ed D'Amato at All Aboard Ohio was replaced as 'president' in 2004 -- he is not listed anywhere in the current organization.  The 'eddiedee' at medium.com was only quoted by the group, not representing it; I find it interesting that he avoids any mention of either OARP or All Aboard Ohio in his 'about' section there.

if this is the guy at Ohio EPA he is bending over backward on LinkedIn to hide any credentials or indeed any interest in passenger rail ... which is strange.

There is ~15-year-old contact information for the 'right' OARP D'amato in the spring 2004 OARP newsletter (p.13)

http://allaboardohio.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Issue-152.pdf

which someone with better skillz might be able to make use of.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Tuesday, March 16, 2021 9:35 AM

The point, from which you wandered is that it seems unlikely that any of the various Eddie D'Amatos has access to any of  Amtrak's books nor is a forensic accountant or auditor. 

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, March 16, 2021 10:40 AM

charlie hebdo
The point, from which you wandered is that it seems unlikely that any of the various Eddie D'Amatos has access to any of  Amtrak's books nor is a forensic accountant or auditor.

That has been the point through all the previous Amtrak-accounting 'discussions' recently here; the argument is on an assessment of the Amtrak Performance Tracking system, which similarly lacks access to the Amtrak system involved (the repeated complaint about 'proprietary' rules being made since 2017) and likely requires at least as much specialized knowledge to assess technically as an accounting system following GAAP would.  I would find it even less likely that any of the d'Amatos is expert either in general systems theory or the design of complex rules-based software...

Perhaps I am uncharitable in seeing the same hand crafting the RPA "white paper" from 2018

https://www.railpassengers.org/site/assets/files/7353/amtraks_route_accounting_-_fatally_flawed.pdf

as has produced the eddiedee post; I am even less charitable in noting that, if so, it is poor science at best to quote your own work as a third-party reference, or as the seeming work product of an organization that does not choose to divulge the authorship of its collateral.

 It appears, though, that most of the argument, both from folks like d'Amato and in forum responses here since 2017, hinges less on an actual assessment of APT or its rules than in an observation of contradictions of fact arising out of supposed common application of the rules-based system.  While it is possible, or course, that a complex and nuanced intelligent system could produce the kinds of disparate results d'Amato keeps beating the drum about, there is a limit to common-sense credibility that some of them are wholly rational -- and this, not a technical discussion of rules-based systems design or the presumed morality of Amtrak cost-tracking staff, is really the basis for what there is we can discuss here without speculation.

It would be nice, of course, to conclude that all the 'disparities' d-Amato keeps listing are the result of little errors or oversights, as I recall JPS1 indicating about the Miami snow-removal kerfuffle, or the result of well-crafted expert systems that take account of proprietary knowledge Amtrak sees no need to divulge.  I would certainly like to see someone from Amtrak actually refute the items listed... not that I'm foolish enough to expect such a thing, or that any explanation would likely stop the speculation that aspects of APT are 'cooked' just as the timeless topic that Amtrak's accounting 'books are cooked'.

 

 

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Wednesday, March 17, 2021 12:59 AM

Exactly my thoughts.  The overall accounting of Amtrak probably is generally correct that is audited by Earnst.  I need to question daughter who left them .  What is lacking is the OIG  internally verifying that costs for the various timelines are either correct or incorrect application of APT..  Until  Amtrak stopped publishing most of their monthly performance reports we could see some questionable numbers that did not make sense.

Some of the items about NEC electrification expenses did not make sense to me.

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