Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak executives’

New Amtrak VP Will Oversee Infrastructure, Fleet, Station Projects

May 25, 2021

Amtrak has appointed an executive vice president who will be overseeing infrastructure, fleet and station programs.

Laura Mason will report to Amtrak President Stephen Gardner. She begins her post on June 28.

In a news release, Amtrak said Mason will lead strategy in developing the railroad’s largest and most complex projects.

The news release said Mason will work with Amtrak’s stakeholders and ensure that programs are implemented in adherence with safety, regulatory, program-management and reporting requirements.

Mason is currently executive vice president of capital delivery at the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority where she has been responsible for project management, engineering and construction of major capital projects, infrastructure renewal, capital-program planning, and the scheduling and contracting strategies.

Gardner to Become Amtrak President Dec. 1

December 1, 2020

Amtrak said on Monday that one of its vice presidents will become its president on Dec. 1.

Stephen Gardner

Stephen Gardner, currently Amtrak’s executive vice president and chief operating and commercial officer, will replace William Flynn.

Flynn, who became Amtrak’s president and CEO in April, will remain with the passenger carrier as CEO and a member of its board of directors.

The promotion of Gardner to president had been widely expected by many rail industry observers.

Railway Age reported that Gardner has been making most of the major decisions and setting policy during his time as an Amtrak senior vice president.

His elevation to the president’s chair coincides with the election of Joseph Biden as president. Gardner, like Biden, is a Democrat.

Earlier in his career, Gardner served in staff positions for Congressional Democrats on Capitol Hill, including Delaware Senator Tom Carper.

He joined Amtrak in 2009 after having helped develop railroad and transportation policy for the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

Before coming to Washington, Gardner worked for Guilford Rail System (now Pan Am Railways) and the Buckingham Branch Railroad.

Railway Age said Gardner is widely recognized as one of the principal authors of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008.

The magazine said Gardner was unlikely to become Amtrak’s president so long as Republicans controlled the White House and the Department of Transportation.

In a prepared statement, Amtrak said the change in leadership was “part of a broader set of actions taken . . . to ensure that Amtrak is well positioned for success in fiscal year 2021 and beyond.”

The statement said Gardner will lead day-to-day operations and oversee marketing, operations, planning, government affairs, and corporate communication.

Historically, Amtrak’s president has been its top executive, but during the tenure of the late Joseph Boardman the company added the CEO title to his duties.

Amtrak’s statement said the carrier faces “two urgent challenges in 2021” including weathering the COVID-19 pandemic and bolstering Amtrak’s future.

Amtrak’s presidency has been a revolving door in recent years with no one person holding the position for more than a few years.

Charles “Wick” Moorman, a former CEO of Norfolk Southern, came out of retirement in 2016 to serve as Amtrak president and CEO in what at the time was described as a transitional appointment.

Moorman became co-CEO of Amtrak with Richard Anderson in June 2017, an arrangement that continued through the end of 2017.

Anderson, a former CEO of Delta Air Lines, served as Amtrak’s top executive until being replaced in April 2020 by William Flynn, a former CEO of Atlas Air.

Anderson Ends Tenure as Amtrak CEO

April 15, 2020

Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson bowed out on Tuesday with a final message for Amtrak employees.

Anderson thanked them for their efforts during his three-year tenure and in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

“We are in a position to protect Amtrak jobs right now because of everything you have done together in recent years,” he said. “You did the hard work as professionals over the past several years to grow revenue and ridership to record levels, with our highest customer satisfaction levels in history.

Anderson went on to say no travel company in the U.S. is as well positioned as Amtrak to to get through the pandemic and come out stronger on the other side.

Anderson, 64, served as Amtrak’s 12th president. He is being replaced today (April 15) by William J. Flynn, who like Anderson is a former airline executive.

Before coming to Amtrak, Anderson served as CEO of Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines.

He joined Amtrak on July 12, 2017, as president and served through the end of the year as co-CEO of the intercity rail passenger carrier with Charles “Wick” Moorman.

Flynn served as president of Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings between June 2006 and July 2019. He then served as CEO of Atlas through the end of 2019 and was chairman of the board of directors.

Amtrak named Flynn as its next president and CEO last month.

Top Amtrak Executives to Take Pay Cuts

March 23, 2020

Amtrak said over the weekend that it is taking what it termed aggressive steps in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, including reducing the salaries of its top executives.

For now Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson said Amtrak will not lay off employees.

An internal memo sent by Amtrak Senior Vice President Stephen Gardner said incoming President William Flynn will not draw his Amtrak salary during the crisis.

Gardner said Amtrak faces a loss of $1 billion due to plunging bookings and widespread cancellations of existing reservations.

The intercity passenger carrier has asked the federal government for a supplemental appropriation to cover lost revenue.

The pay cuts will take effect April 1. Flynn is scheduled to replace Anderson in the CEO chair on April 15.

Amtrak will suspend its its 401(k) matching contribution for management employees through the end of the calendar year.

“We recognize these actions have a serious impact on our employees and their families,” Gardner said in the memo. “But we are taking this action to help protect everyone. We appreciate your support as we work our way through this crisis together.”

Other measures being taken by Amtrak include ending all non-safety-critical hiring; cutting discretionary travel, professional fees, and advertising spending; and deferring non-priority capital expenses.

In a dial-in town hall meeting for Amtrak workers held on Friday, Anderson said the carrier is seeking to avoid involuntary furloughs.

The carrier will meet a commitment in current labor agreements granting employees a 3.5 percent pay increase on July 1, but Anderson called for union leaders to consider delaying but not cancelling the increase until Amtrak ridership recovers.

Anderson hinted that if the unions balk at delaying the pay raise the carrier might revoke its non-layoff stance.

“General chairmen need to get engaged and figure out how to do this if we are to avoid an involuntary furlough, given that we don’t have any business anymore,” Anderson said.

“We have been through a lot of tough times with Amtrak—from host railroads that want to put us out of business, to presidents who don’t want to fund us, to [a] Congress that doesn’t always want to properly fund us, and to states and private companies that would like to take over our services,” Anderson said.

He said Acela ridership in the Northeast Corridor has fallen by 92 percent, Acela reservations are down by 99 percent and bookings for long-distance trains have declined by 64 percent.

Anderson expects those numbers to worsen as additional government imposed restrictions are placed on personal mobility.

“On 9/11, we knew specifically what the root cause of the problem was at the time, [and] the transportation system recovered fairly quickly,” Anderson said. “In this instance, we don’t have clear direction of what the end point of the coronavirus is.”

Amtrak has more than $3 billion of cash on hand but Anderson said the carrier must continue to pay operating expenses and pay interest on its existing loans.

It has halted spending on capital projects except those needed to keeping trains moving.

“By any measure, the economy is in recession,” Anderson said. “We can’t just count on Congress to close our gap.”

Saying there is no reason to operate empty trains, Anderson said Northeast Corridor service has been cut by 40 percent and 10 routes have reduced service with more service cuts coming.

Although the long-distance network will remain intact, Anderson said 40 percent of its seat capacity has been removed in the form of operating fewer rail cars.

“We need to be aggressive in preserving our cash,” Anderson said.

“I’m certain that the long-distance network will be very different longer term,” he said. “Over the past three or four years, it has taken more than $2.5 billion of federal money to keep the long-distance network operating, and if we don’t have the subsidy from the Northeast Corridor and state [supported corridor] trains bearing their share of the national network, the loss gets that much bigger.”

Anderson acknowledged that the steps Amtrak has taken are “demoralizing,” but said it would be be more demoralizing to tell people they don’t have a job anymore.

“That’s what we are working to avoid. If we just stood here and didn’t do anything, and one day in July or August we told everybody that the company was near liquidation and that we were going to lay off 10,000 or 15,000 people, that would be far more demoralizing. That would be irresponsible,” Anderson said.

In the meantime, Amtrak announced it will suspend all Acela Express service in the Northeast Corridor on Monday.

Northeast Corridor service will be covered by a schedule of Northeast Regional trains operating at 40 percent of the regular weekday schedule.

Until now Amtrak had suspended only a small number of Acela Express trains.

Acela service carried 3.5 million in 2019 of the 12.5 million ridership in the Northeast Corridor.

Other service cuts today are set to be implemented in California and North Carolina.

Amtrak Names New Safety Officer

October 30, 2019

Amtrak has appointed Steve Predmore executive vice president and chief safety officer effective Nov. 4.

He will succeed Ken Hylander, who plans to retire on Nov. 15.

In a news release, Amtrak said Predmore will oversee the system safety, compliance and training, environmental compliance, sustainability and public health groups.

He will report to Stephen Gardner, senior executive vice president and chief operating and commercial officer.

Most recently, Predmore was vice president and chief safety officer with the Bristow Group, a provider of aircraft for offshore transportation, and search and rescue.

He also served as senior vice president of safety for MV Transportation, a provider of contracted passenger services, and spent nearly two decades in aviation industry, having served in safety roles at JetBlue Airways and Delta Air Lines.

Hylander, who joined Amtrak in January 2018, had been been responsible for implementing a safety management system at the passenger carrier.

New Amtrak VP to Oversee Long-Distance Services

October 13, 2019

On the same day that Amtrak implemented its flexible dining service aboard all overnight eastern long-distance trains it also welcomed aboard a new vice president to oversee long-distance service.

Larry Chestler took the job after a career in the airline industry, most recently in marketing at Sun County Airlines. He also work at MLT Vacations.

He told Trains magazine that he is still too new to the post to have a clear sense of the dynamics of the Amtrak rout network, including how contributes to peak travel demand.

“The role I’m stepping into as the commercial leader is take all of the elements and look at what [the trains] need to be more successful — whatever that definition is,” Chestler said.

“My team should have enough knowledge about the traffic use and customer base of (each) train and what its role is in the national network to be able to clearly advocate what it brings.”

That includes studying travelers taking a route endpoint to endpoint versus those who travel only on a segment of a route.

He described himself as “keenly interested” in studying connections to long-distance trains from corridor service trains.

Chestler had little train riding experience before taking the job. He said he had ridden Amtrak long-distance trains before, including the Coast Starlight.

He views pricing and inventory management as key to marketing the long-distance services.

Chestler also view his role as being an advocate for long distance routes. However, he said that focusing on long-distance services won’t be the only facet of his position.

He doesn’t see corridor services as competitors or rivals but partners.

Shortly after going to work at Amtrak Chestler rode the Cardinal from Chicago to Washington to observe how the carrier’s flexible dining service is playing out.

He spent the night in a business class eat that he admitted as a good experience but one in which he got little sleep.

But he told Trains “it was good for me to experience the product as the majority of our customers do, in a seat.”

Chestler also concluded that the flexible dining food service was well-received by passengers and “the onboard staff did a nice job delivering the product.”

Amtrak Makes Changes in Executive Ranks

June 7, 2019

Amtrak has made two changes in its upper executive ranks.

It has named Tracie Winbigler as executive vice president and chief financial officer, and appointed Stephen Gardner as chief operating and commercial officer.

Winbigler will join Amtrak on June 24 and be responsible for the carrier’s finance, treasury, accounting and control functions.

She most recently served as CFO at Recreational Equipment Incorporated and before that spent three years at National Geographic where she served as chief operating officer for part of her time there.

Gardner has been named to a newly created position and will report directly to Amtrak President Richard Anderson.

Gardner will be responsible for Amtrak’s day-to-day operations. Other duties will include overseeing the annual operating plan and strengthening coordination between functions across the railroad

He will oversee Amtrak’s operations, administration, marketing, strategy and planning, information technology, product development and customer experience, government affairs and corporate communications functions.

Gardner is already a senior executive vice president at Amtrak, a post he has held since December 2018.

Newman Gets Promotion at Amtrak

April 23, 2019

Dennis Newman has been named by Amtrak to be its executive vice president, planning and strategy.

He joined Amtrak in December 2017 as Amtrak’s vice president of planning, strategy and research.

Before coming to Amtrak, Newman worked for Dish Network as vice president of sales. He also did stints at Northwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines for more than 17 years.

In a news release, Amtrak said that the corporate planning and strategy functions led by Newman and the commercial and marketing functions headed by Roger Harris will become separate entities within the group led by Stephen Gardner, senior executive vice president of commercial, marketing and strategy.

Previously, both of those functions reported to Chief Marketing and Commercial Officer Tim Griffin, who recently retired from Amtrak.

Amtrak Names New Executive VP

April 3, 2019

Amtrak has named Roger Harris as executive vice president and chief marketing and commercial officer effective April 12.

He will succeed Tim Griffin, who is retiring on that date.

In a news release, Amtrak said Harris will be responsible for corporate marketing, sales distribution, network and consist planning, market research, pricing and revenue management.

He also will oversee the Northeast Corridor, state-supported and long-distance service lines.

Harris joined Amtrak in January as Vice president of long-distance service business line.

His more than 25 years in the transportation industry included serving as vice president of revenue, distribution and alliances for Aeromexico, and positions at Delta Air Lines, Sun Country Airlines, GMAC Financial Services, Northwest/KLM Airlines and Chrysler.

Ex-Amtrak President Joseph Boardman Dies

March 9, 2019

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.