The Auto-Train, due in from 9 a.m., straggled into its terminal near Lorton at 11:20 a.m. Friday morning.
The Train isn't the only thing that's off scheduled for Auto-Train Corp.
The Washington Railroad is so far behind on lease payments on its locomotives that Continental Illinois National Bank recently went to court for its money and threatened to reposses the engines.
Fees for use of the Seaboard Coast Line's tracks and crews have been delinquent for months. Three times Seaboard has waived the deadline for canceling the agreement to let Auto-Train ride its's rails.
Leases on some of the railroad's passenger and auto-carrier cars are in default as well -- in amounts ranging from $50,000 to $390,000 -- and so are installments on $5.1 million in long-term debt. That whole debt could be called immediately, unless more waivers are granted.
Thousands of dollars in refunds to passengers also are overdue, and so are reports to the Interstate Commerce Commission on the status of the refunds. The passengers' money has been used to pay other creditors, the ICC says.
Also way behind schedule is the new financing that Auto-Train needs to meet its overdue obligations.
It was in the summer of 1978 that the railroad first announced it was looking for new cash. At last June's annual meeting, President Eugene Kerik Garfield told shareholders that new underwriting was imminent.
Garfield said the same thing in this year's annual report, mailed last week in advance of the stockholder meeting set for July 31 at the Twin Bridges Marriott.
"The company is presently engaged in programs which will produce, if successful, approximately $6.8 million in new funds," the latest report says.
The report and the notice to shareholders provide the most detailed picture yet made public of Auto-Train's troubles: In nine years of operation, Auto-Train Corp. has lost $10.1 million. Stockholders equity is now a minus $2 million.
Besides trying to sell $6.8 million worth of stock, Auto-Train also is asking for $6 million to $9 million in government-guaranteed loans, report said. Last year the company tried to get a federal loan subsidy from the Economic Development Administration of the Department of Commerce, but withdrew the application when it looked like it might be turned down. Now Auto-Train is trying to get a loan guarantee from the Federal Railway Administration to pay for maintenance on rolling stock, which is also overdue.
The first effort to sell Auto-Train stock was derailed by the Interstate Commerce Commission, because of the long overdue refunds to passengers who canceled their reservations.
Under pressure from the White House office of consumer affairs, the ICC said that until the passengers get their money back, it will not authorize the railroad to sell any stock to the public.
Now, however, Auto-Train apparently has found a way to sell stock without ICC approval.
The Interstate Commerce Commission only regulates transportation companies. Instead of selling stock in the railroad, Auto-Train plans to offer shares in a subsidiary that builds and repairs railroad cars. The annual report says the plan is to sell 1.4 million shares of Railway Services Corp for $4.6 million. After paying underwriting fees of $300,000, the offering is expected to raise $4.3 million.
Auto-Train itself will sell more than half the stock, 800,000 shares worth $2.5 million. Railway Services will sell 600,000 shares, for $2.1 million.
Railway Services, however plans to give $800,000 of its money back to the parent corporation to reimburse it for "start-up costs," Leaving Auto-Train with $3.3 million for Railway Services with $1.3 million, before selling commissions.
Plans for the stock offering were announced several weeks ago and the new company notified the Securities and Exchange Commission that it was going to try to sell shares to the public. So far, however, Railway Services has yet to take the next step and file a detailed prospectus with the SEC, or to set a date for the sale.
The business of carrying tourists and their cars back and fourth to Florida has run $10 million in the red and the company says its future is in railway services rather than railroading.
Last summer, it organized the subsidiary, Railway Services Corp., and leased two surplus car repair facilities that were about to be abandoned by the Seaboard Coast Line, a wheel shop in North Carolina and a car shop in Portsmouth, Va.
The two facilities did $408,000 worth of business in fiscal 1979 and lost $315,000, the annual report disclosed.
The wheel business is thriving, the company said, working three shifts with a contract to fix 4,000 wheels.
When the Portsmouth facility was opened, Auto-Train said it had a contract to assemble 10,000 hopper cars from kits of parts imported from Poland. That job reportedly ran into trouble when the parts in the kits did not fit.
Chairman of the board of the new subsidiary is George L. Green, a 71-year-old railroad veteran. Green was formerly president of Pullman Standard Corp. a major rail car builder.