Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak management’

Amtrak Plans to Furlough Workers

September 2, 2020

Amtrak plans to furlough 1,950 unionized workers in federal fiscal year 2021, which begins on Oct. 1.

Trains magazine reported that the intercity passenger carrier also plans to end 100 management jobs.

Most of those being furloughed are on-board service employees who will no longer be needed after Amtrak reduces the frequency of most long-distance trains to tri-weekly in October.

Those 698 workers are represented by the Amtrak Service Workers Council.

Other planned furloughs include 509 employees represented by SMART-TD, 390 workers represented by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, 326 employees represented by the Transportation Communications Union, and 27 employees represented by the American Railway and Airway Supervisors Association.

Those employees are based in Los Angeles (236 workers), Chicago (171 workers) and Seattle (129) among other cities.

Amtrak said the furloughs could increase or decrease by as much as 2 percent once its operating plan is worked out.

The furloughed workers will continue to receive medical benefits paid by Amtrak until they are recalled or through Sept. 30, 2021, if they are not.

Managers who are being laid off are to be notified on Sept. 16.

Earlier this year Amtrak offered voluntary buyouts as part of an effort to reduce its workforce by 20 percent.

It warned at that time that involuntary furloughs would be imposed to make up the difference between the number of involuntary buyouts and the number of workers that the carrier wanted to reach.

Amtrak Eyeing Forced Furloughs

July 28, 2020

Amtrak is expected to furlough an unspecified number of employees after more than 500 workers agreed to accept a buyout offer.

Spokeswoman Christina Leeds told Trains magazine that the buyouts were “not enough to achieve the cost savings we are going to need in fiscal 2021.”

She said Amtrak management is evaluating which management positions it wants to eliminate and it is “very likely” that some union workers will be furloughed.

Amtrak said that 4,369 of its employees were eligible for a one-time payment if they agreed to leave the company.

The buyouts to 284 union workers and 227 managers will average about $33,000 apiece.

Leeds said that puts the total expenditure for buyouts at $16.83 million.

Trains said it obtained an internal company list that showed the breakdown by position of those taking buyouts.

It included 357 in the operations; 37 in administration; 22 in information technology; 17 in safety, health, and environmental; 15 in finance; 15 in human resources; seven in general counsel and corporate secretary; five in strategy and planning; and two in government affairs and corporate communications.

The degree of further furloughs could hinge on how much money Amtrak receives from Congress for fiscal year 2021, which begins Oct. 1.

The House of Representatives has approved a budget bill appropriating $10.05 billion for Amtrak with the proviso that no workers be laid off and that long distance trains now operating daily would continue to do so.

The Senate has yet to act on that bill and given how past appropriations have played out Congress may pass one or more continuing resolutions to keep the federal government operating in the next fiscal year until it reaches agreement on appropriations.

It is unclear what a continuing resolution, which typically funds government programs at the level approved in the past fiscal year, would mean for Amtrak’s workforce and the operation of long distance trains.

Amtrak has said it expects revenue in fiscal year 2021 to be 50 percent of what it was before the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

It cited that for planning to furlough 20 percent of its workforce and to reduce most long distance trains to tri-weekly operation.

Trains also reported that on July 14 Amtrak implemented a management restructuring whereby all operating, government affairs, and revenue-generating departments now report to CEO William Flynn through Stephen Gardner, executive vice president and chief operating and commercial officer.

Directly reporting to Flynn will be officers in charge of safety, finance, human resources, legal, and information.

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.

Amtrak OIG Report Seeks Better Workload Management

November 20, 2018

Amtrak’s Office of Inspector General has recommended that the company save money by adjusting workloads and staffing, and better managing overtime.

The recommendations were made in an audit released earlier this month that estimated that Amtrak could put an estimated $2.3 million to $6.4 million to better use.

The audit focused on 62 locations where Amtrak services and inspects trains.

Those sites include 12 preventative maintenance facilities and 50 smaller outlying sites that service trains between runs.

It is the latter that occupied most of the attention of the recent OIG report because they offer the greatest opportunity for cost cutting.

These sites perform such Federal Railroad Administration-required safety inspections as cab signal tests, brake tests and interior and exterior inspections.

Workers also clean restrooms and café cars, wash windows, vacuum the cars, pump waste from toilets and replenish cars with potable water.

This work is done by Amtrak employees at 16 sites while contract employees work at 34 sites.

The OIG concluded that some work performed at facilities in Michigan and Missouri could be done at Amtrak’s service facilities in Chicago.

The audit found that schedules for several trains that originate or terminate in Chicago find the equipment assigned to them laying over in Chicago every 24 hours.

Chicago maintenance workers are already responsible for cleaning trains and have the capacity to conduct the FRA-mandated safety inspections.

Although the Michigan and Missouri sites may still be needed for train cleaning, the OIG said a minimized workload would enable staffing adjustments for service and inspections.

The OIG also singled out potential savings opportunities at 11 other maintenance facilities that, depending on the amount of additional inspection work that could be performed, could result in a better use of $1.4 million to $3.9 million.

The OIG audit found that employees worked standard eight-hour shifts even though the sites did not have enough service and inspection work to fill a full shift.

The audit quoted Amtrak managers as saying that staffing levels were based on a historical preference to ensure that sites had a full complement of staff to quickly mitigate incidents that might arise at a site or along a train’s route.

This resulted in inefficiencies, the OIG report said.

Likewise, the OIG found that at four of Amtrak’s 16 major service and inspection sites, there is not enough service and inspection work to fill an eight-hour shift.

Overtime payments above base wages ranged from 11 percent to 38 percent per employee at the sites. Managers at some sites did not know why or how much overtime their employees were earning.

Managers were unable to manage employee overtime or ensure that overtime was necessary.

Better management of overtime could result in an estimated $900,000 to $2.4 million being put to better use.

In a statement, Amtrak officials agreed to implement all of the OIG recommendations contained in the audit.

Amtrak Names Vice President for Safety

January 10, 2018

Amtrak has appointed a former airline safety officer to the post of executive vice president and chief safety officer.

Ken Hylander retired as a senior vice president for Delta Air Lines in 2014. In a news release, Amtrak said that Hylander oversaw the safety system implementation at Delta and managed the occupational, operating safety, security, quality, and environmental compliance programs.

He also worked at Northwest Airlines as chief safety officer and currently serves on the board of governors of the Flight Safety Foundation and is an independent member of the board of directors of Monroe Energy in Trainer, Pennsylvania.

Before joining Northwest in 1997 as the vice president of quality reliability and engineering, Hylander spent nearly 17 years at United Airlines where he held a variety of engineering, quality assurance, and operations management positions.

Hylander will report directly to Amtrak President and CEO Richard Anderson.

Amtrak described Hylander’s mandate at the rail passenger carrier as being responsible for implementing a proven safety management system.

“We are improving safety at Amtrak. Keeping our customers and employees safe is our most important responsibility and a high-quality safety management system is a requirement for Amtrak,” Anderson said in a statement. “Ken is a recognized leader in the implementation and operation of [safety management systems], and his experience will be instrumental in helping build our safety culture.”

In its news release, Amtrak described a safety management system as a proactive risk management system that builds on predictive safety management methods.

Amtrak noted that the National Transportation Safety Board recently recommended that Amtrak create a safety management system.

Moorman Set to Leave Amtrak Dec. 31

December 15, 2017

Amtrak co-CEO Charles “Wick” Moorman is about at the end of the line as the head of the rail passenger carrier.

Moorman

Moorman, who came on board as CEO in September 2016 after a long career at Norfolk Southern that included serving as the company’s CEO, will leave Amtrak on Dec. 31. He plans to continue to serve the carrier as a senior adviser.

When he agreed to take the Amtrak job, Moorman made it clear he would only serve as a transitional CEO and assist the process of finding his replacement.

That led the Amtrak board of directors last June to hire Richard Anderson, a former Delta Air Lines CEO. Anderson and Moorman have held the co-CEO titles since then.

“I have greatly enjoyed my time at Amtrak, and firmly believe that the company is well-positioned for the future,” Moorman said in a statement. “I look forward to continuing my work with Richard and the entire Amtrak team to further advance passenger rail in this country.”

When Moorman was hired, he was assigned the responsibility to focus on improving operations, streamlining Amtrak’s organizational structure, and finding his successor.

Moorman has had his share of challenges, including an emergency program to rebuild track at New York Penn Station and improving the company’s safety culture.

The latter was described as “broken” by a National Transportation Safety Board report on an accident that left two Amtrak maintenance workers dead when they were struck by a train at Chester, Pennsylvania.

Amtrak has also shown concepts for high-speed equipment slated to replace Acela train sets in the Northeast Corridor and put into service new locomotives built by Siemens.

“The Board is grateful for Wick’s significant contributions since he joined the company, and we are pleased that he is continuing to serve as a senior advisor,” said Tony Coscia, chairman of the Amtrak board.

Amtrak Restructures Vice Presidents

December 14, 2017

Amtrak announced this week the restructuring of its vice presidents, including the hiring of two new VPs and the reassignment of job responsibilities of some executives already with the company.

Robin McDonough has been appointed vice president, human resources. Byl Herrmann, who had been serving in this role for the past year, will return to the law department as vice president, senior managing deputy general counsel.

McDonough will continue the transformation of the human resources department begun by Hermann earlier this year.

Jeanne Cantu has been promoted to assistant vice president, network support, succeeding McDonough. Cantu will be moving from the finance group, where she had already been working closely with operations through her role as senior director, business planning and controls.

Caroline Decker has been appointed vice president, Northeast Corridor service line. She succeeds Mark Yachmetz, who remains with the group as vice president, Acela 2021 Program, where he will be focused on delivering the next-generation of Acela service, including the new high-speed train sets.

In her previous role as vice president of government affairs and corporate communications, Decker led Amtrak’s efforts in Congress to secure annual federal funding while providing strategic leadership on corporate messaging.

In her new role, Decker will focus on increasing customer satisfaction and driving net revenues through innovation for the company’s flagship products and prepare for future growth across the NEC.

Bob Dorsch has been promoted to vice president, long distance service line. He succeeds Mark Murphy, who will be retiring after 40 years at Amtrak. Dorsch previously served as vice president, product support and management within the marketing and business development group.

In his new role, Dorsch will be responsible for leading efforts to modernize and improve the carrier’s products, deliver these services more efficiently and at a lower cost, while also providing a higher level of customer satisfaction.

Peter Wilander is joining Amtrak on Jan. 4 as vice president, product development and customer experience. He comes to Amtrak from Gate Group, a global provider of products, services and solutions for the aviation industry, where he served as chief commercial officer.

Wilander has more than 35 years of airline industry experience, having previously held the role of managing director on-board services for Delta Air Lines, where he was responsible for the worldwide catering operation, food and beverage design and implementation, on-board retail programs, and crew service delivery procedures.

In his new role, he will establish Amtrak’s customer service standards.

Dennis Newman joined Amtrak on Dec. 4 as vice president, schedule and consist planning. Newman will be responsible for the execution of Amtrak’s network strategy through schedule planning and capacity management of trains in the Northeast Corridor, state supported, and long distance services, and ensuring that route capacity is managed to optimize load factor and revenue, and stays responsive to market conditions and demand.

He was most recently vice president, sales, at Dish Network. Prior to that, he was vice president, network planning at Delta Air Lines.

Moorman Looks Back on Amtrak Tenure

December 5, 2017

You could say that Amtrak co-CEO Charles “Wick” Moorman is a big fan of his fellow CEO Richard Anderson.

Moorman

“We really hit a home run in that Richard Anderson agreed to come on board,” Moorman said during a speech last week at the RailTrends 2017 conference.

Moorman cited Anderson’s leadership skills, saying Amtrak needs his aggressive nature.

During his presentation, Moorman also said Amtrak has made progress in such areas as safety, maintenance and customer service.

The former CEO of Norfolk Southern also singled out the passenger carrier’s new chief financial officer, William Feidt, who Moorman said has brought discipline to Amtrak that was lacking.

Moorman said Chief Marketing Officer Tim Griffin understands marketing a passenger service as well as revenue and yield management. “We have a first-rate management team now,” Moorman said.

Griffin and Anderson have both worked in the airline industry with Anderson having been a former CEO at Delta Air Lines.

Moorman, who will leave Amtrak soon, said that although the passenger carrier is developing a better safety culture, it continues to trail Class I railroads in those efforts.

He also said that Amtrak has a spotty record in delivering on capital projects

Amtrak needs to be a better steward of its assets, including its rolling stock and facilities.

“Shabby chic can be fashionable, but not on a passenger train or in a train station,” Moorman said.

Pointing out that much of Amtrak’s equipment had a worn-out feel to it, Moorman directed the interiors of Amfleet I cars to be refurbished after he learned that it would be relatively inexpensive.

In time, the refurbishment program will be extended to cars used on long-distance trains.

One lesson that Moorman said he learned from Anderson from the airline industry is to consistently upgrade the interiors that passengers see.

“You don’t want to know how many 40-year-old airplanes you’ve flown,” Moorman said.

In fiscal year 2017, which ended on Sept. 30, Amtrak reduced its operating loss to just under $200 million, which covers 95 percent of its expenses. Moorman said the goal is to reduce the operating loss to zero.

It will seek to do that by bumping up ridership and revenue. However, he said that will be a challenge to achieve if the current less than desirable on-time performance means that Amtrak service is unreliable.

Moorman said a two- or three-hour delay for a freight train doesn’t mean much, but is unacceptable for a passenger train.

He said Amtrak and its host freight railroads need to work more closely to reduce delays while the freight railroads need to realize that to a certain extent the public’s perception of American railroading is shaped by Amtrak and the level of service it provides.