Ex-Amtrak President Joseph Boardman Dies

Former Amtrak President Joseph H. Boardman, 70, died this week after suffering a stroke.

Mr. Boardman

Mr. Boardman, whose career also included serving as New York State Transportation Commissioner and Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, was Amtrak’s second-longest-serving president.

He died on March 7 after being stricken two days earlier while vacationing in Florida with his family.

As head of the FRA, Mr. Boardman served on the Amtrak board of directors as the representative of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

He was named Amtrak’s ninth president in November 2008 after Alexander Kummant stepped down.

At the time, the Amtrak board appointed Mr. Boardman to a one-year term.

In January 2010 the board announced it had extended Mr. Boardman’s term indefinitely.

Mr. Boardman retired as Amtrak president in September 2016 and was succeeded by former Norfolk Southern CEO Charles “Wick” Moorman.

His eight years as Amtrak president trails only the late W. Graham Claytor in tenure as head of Amtrak. Mr. Claytor served as Amtrak president between 1982 and 1993.

During Mr. Boardman’s tenure, Amtrak purchased 28 Alstom Avelia Liberty trainsets for use in the Northeast Corridor on Acela Express service and during his watch the passenger carrier initiated the acquisition of 200 Viewliners cars from CAF-USA.

The latter were plagued with production and delivery delays and the full order has yet to be completed.

Mr. Boardman was described by those who worked with him and knew him at Amtrak as a very hands-on manager.

He often rode Amtrak trains in a business car to see the network for himself.

A retired Amtrak car attendant told Trains magazine that Mr. Boardman would encourage on-board employees to come to his car Beech Grove during those inspection trips and say what was on their mind.

In the past year Mr. Boardman had become sharply critical of current Amtrak management, particularly after it indicated that it wanted to replace the Chicago-Los Angeles Southwest Chief between Dodge City, Kansas, and Albuquerque with bus service.

Mr. Boardman was particularly passionate about the Chief because he had overseen as president of Amtrak an effort to win federal, state and local grant money to be used to rehabilitate the tracks that the Chief uses on a lightly-used BNSF line over Raton Pass.

In a statement released by Amtrak, board Chairman Anthony Coscia and President Richard Anderson said, “we are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Joe Boardman.”

The statement said that during his tenure as FRA administrator and Amtrak president Mr. Boardman had been a tireless advocate for passenger rail and the nation’s mobility.”

“During his eight years at the helm, Joe helped the company make significant progress in reducing our debt, improving our infrastructure and raising our cost recovery performance,” the statement said.

Mr. Boardman was a lifelong resident of New York state and was raised on a dairy farm in Oneida County.

In 1966 he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and served in Vietnam between 1968 and 1969.

After his discharge from the Air Force, he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agriculture Economics from Cornell University and a Master of Science Degree in Management Science from Binghamton University.

He was appointed by President George W. Bush as FRA administrator, a position he held between 2005 and 2008.

Other positions that he held included serving as chairman of the Executive Committee of the Transportation Research Board, and serving as chairman of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials’ Standing Committee on Rail Transportation.

He was a commissioner of the New York State Department of Transportation for eight years.

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