Wow: Former Delta CEO Named New CEO Of Amtrak

Last year we learned that Delta’s former CEO, Richard Anderson, would step down as of May 2016. Unlike a certain other airline executive who retired not too long ago, Richard Anderson left a good legacy and was generally popular at Delta, even if I disagreed with him on many points. There’s no denying that he was always looking out the best interest for his airline.

Well, it looks like Anderson won’t be retiring anytime soon, and has found a new job. Amtrak has just announced that Richard Anderson will become their new President & CEO as of July 12, 2017.

“Richard brings to Amtrak his experience running one of the largest global commercial air carriers. The board believes he is the right leader at the right time to drive the quality of customer service that our passengers, partners and stakeholders expect and deserve while continuing our path towards operational and financial excellence,” said Amtrak Chairman of the Board Tony Coscia. “The board also appreciates all that Wick continues to do to improve Amtrak’s safety culture and strengthen our operating performance, including the important renewal work at New York Penn Station.”

“It is an honor to join Amtrak at a time when passenger rail service is growing in importance in America. I look forward to working alongside Amtrak’s dedicated employees to continue the improvements begun by Wick,” said Anderson. “Amtrak is a great company today, and I’m excited about using my experience and working with the board to make it even better. I’m passionate about building strong businesses that create the best travel experience possible for customers.”

“Richard is a best-in-class industry leader and isn’t afraid to face challenges head-on. He has helped companies navigate bankruptcy, a recession, mergers and acquisitions, and 9/11,” said Moorman. “He’s a leader with the strategic vision and tactical experience necessary to run a railroad that benefits our customers, partners and stakeholders nationwide.”

As much as I’ve sometimes given Anderson a hard time, I have a lot of respect for him taking on this role. Good luck, sir… you’ll need it.

Comments

  1. As a 13-year Amtrak employee, I hope he does not try to turn those of us on the passenger service crews into flight attendants overnight. In many ways Amtrak could learn much from the efficiencies he brought to NW/DL, but the railroad is also a very, very different place from an airline. Here’s to cautious optimism, and the hope that we’ll have him as CEO for a few years instead of 14 months.

    Wick Moorman is definitely taking some undue heat for Penn Station… those deficiencies have been present for years thanks to decades of improper funding by congress, and more recent refusals by Chris Christie and Andrew Cuomo to support funding for additional Hudson River tunnels or even repairs to the existing infrastructure. Unfortunately he will be remembered as Amtrak’s CEO for that, not for the changes he made to our corporate structure.

  2. @timtamtrack “under-funding” ha ha, Amtrak runs a loss everywhere in America other than the north east corridor. I think it’s ludicrous that there are billions pumped into amtrack every year, and they should focus solely on running truly high speed trains I.e. Japan trains before they get lost in the fray of hyperlooo etc. days of cross country trains for passengers are numbered

  3. I’m not referring to our overall funding, I should have specified *capital* funding. The infrastructure in the NEC in particular is not in great shape, and no matter how successful Amtrak is on the NEC there will never be enough ticket revenue to pay for two new tunnels and 130 miles of new overhead wires unless our ticket prices are 4-5x what they are today, which no one will pay.

    Believe me, I have no expectation of having my job on a long distance train in 5 years.

  4. Are we sure he doesn’t have a conflict of interest? Amtrak directly competes with airlines in the NE corridor. Seems like he could run it into the ground to please his old airline buddies

  5. I wish him luck – I’d love to see Amtrak thrive. I recently watched Wendover’s YouTube video Why Trains Suck in America and I can’t say I’m optimistic. But if given a reason to be, I’d love to be a more frequent customer.

  6. I use a lot of high speed rail in Europe and would live to have the opportunity to have this option in California between San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco. I’m not optimistic but one can hope maybe someday.

  7. I always enjoy seeing comments by people expressing strong views about Amtrak but who insist on spelling it Amtrack.

  8. To those that think that Amtrak makes a profit in the NE corridor and therefore should abandon the national network for just the NEC, please be aware that while Amtrak may make a nominal profit on operating costs in the NEC, it loses a boatload of money on the capital expenses of the underlying NEC infrastructure. And some of those costs are actually allocated to the long distance trains making their losses even bigger.

    The fact of the matter is that Amtrak’s accounting is so convoluted that the financial impact of operating long distance trains is not clearly understood at all.

    Neil

  9. Nice to see Amtrak getting some leadership from someone with a successful corporate record. By all accounts Anderson did good things for Delta operationally and financially.

    Ben, it appears to me that OMAAT is doing quite well. Perhaps you might want to consider investing in better commenters?

  10. Timtamtrak and Neil are spot on. Shallow media and grandstanding politicians have created a “conventional wisdom” about Amtrak that is so utterly disconnected from the reality of operating/capital economics and the Feds’ thumb being firmly on the scale of favoring and subsidizing other modes of transportation for the past 60+ years. This is especially true with every passing year since 1993 that the gas tax has remained flat, and thus loses spending power. There’s a mythology about profitability, when in reality no mode is profitable on a fully allocated basis, and the US leaders have become wimps at making society pay for all the promised services. Amtrak already recovers 94% of its operating cost from fares, but there will always need to be a baseline of federal support, especially for capital upgrades.

    RA certainly has his work cut out for him. Amtrak has myriad entrenched constituencies inside and outside the company. Hopefully he work on incremental growth opportunities throughout the whole system, not just the train service itself but more differentiated service offerings, more flexible food service, more incentives for good employees, etc. (without decimating the things that make train travel great or further destroying the AGR program).

  11. I took Amtrak from Chicago to Dallas earlier this year and it was acceptable. The sleeping cars are very old and sorely in need of an upgrade but at least there’s a shower and they are clean. The train even arrived early. However, why should taxpayers subsidize train travel? It’s time to simply shutter Amtrak and let a private entity enter the market should they believe there is a profit to be made.

  12. @Alan: “It’s time to simply shutter the Interstate Highway System and let a private entity enter the market should they believe there is a profit to be made.”

    I strongly suggest you research why Amtrak was created in the first place.

  13. According to
    Amtrak literature I have from the early 1970s: [paraphrased]

    The United States recognized that highways and airports would not be adequate to meet the nation’s growing transportation needs, and the passenger train had a role to play.

    Apart from the NE corridor, what role do passenger trains have to play? Highways and airports are now more than adequate to meet the demand. Amtrak is lucky to have one train per day on their western routes.

    I actually like rail travel (the trans-siberian is a great experience) but I do not believe my travel should be subsidized by taxpayers simply for the sake of maintaining passenger trains in the US.

  14. omg @alan obviously GoAmtrak is saying that Amtrak was created to buy up private railroads which were folding in the 70s.

    Taxpayers should subsidize travel to benefit the regional communities Amtrak serves.

  15. Woah woah woah @skylar it was created to operate the routes to maintain rail service on lines that the class 1 railroads were filings with the surface transportation board to end left and right. Without Amtrak all the lines would have inevitably happened

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