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Amtrak names new CEO as Penn Station ‘summer of hell’ looms

Amtrak announced Monday, June 26, 2017, that Richard

Amtrak announced Monday, June 26, 2017, that Richard Anderson will take over as its president and CEO. Credit: Twitter / Amtrak

Penn Station’s owner and operator, Amtrak, on Monday announced that it has a new president and chief executive officer.

Richard Anderson, a former CEO for Delta and Northwest Airlines, will formally begin his new role July 12, two days into the so-called “summer of hell” service disruptions at Penn Station. Charles “Wick” Moorman will stay on as co-CEO until the end of this year to help ensure a smooth transition, and will directly manage the planned infrastructure renewal work at Penn this summer, the agency said.

Amtrak said Moorman joined the agency in September as a “transitional” CEO. A source with knowledge of the situation said Moorman committed only to a year on the job because of family obligations.

“Amtrak is a great company today, and I’m excited about using my experience and working with the board to make it even better,” said Anderson, 62. “I’m passionate about building strong businesses that create the best travel experience possible for customers.”

Anderson joins Amtrak at a challenging time for the beleaguered intercity passenger railroad, which is largely funded by the federal government. Although ridership on its Northeast Corridor, which includes New York, has been growing for years, Amtrak has said it has struggled to secure adequate funding to maintain and expand its system.

Nowhere have Amtrak’s challenges been more apparent than in Penn Station — the busiest railroad station in the United States, used by more than 600,000 people each day. After a series of infrastructure-related service disruptions in the station, including those caused by two train derailments in 10 days, Amtrak announced plans to take three tracks out of service for most of July and August to renew aging track infrastructure.

The plan will require the Long Island Rail Road, Penn’s primary tenant, to reduce rush-hour service into and out of Penn by about 20 percent. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has announced a mitigation plan to deal with the service cuts that includes supplementing train service with buses and ferries.

The planned summer work has put added pressure on an already-strained relationship between the MTA and Amtrak. At the urging of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, the MTA last week said it will withhold tens of millions of dollars in payments to Amtrak for the LIRR’s use of Penn Station and its tracks in order to recover the cost of its summer plan. Amtrak has warned against the MTA cutting off its funding, saying it would be illegal and could spark a legal battle over the LIRR’s ability to operate in Penn Station.

The MTA did not respond to requests for comment on Anderson’s appointment.

A former prosecutor, Anderson most recently was executive chairman of the Delta Air Lines board of directors after serving as the airline’s CEO from 2007 to 2016. He was executive vice president at United Healthcare from 2004 to 2007 and CEO of Northwest Airlines from 2001 to 2004.

In an interview with Newsday on Monday, Amtrak Chairman Anthony Coscia said, as the agency moves ahead with its commitment to transform Penn Station, Anderson’s proven commitment to customer service will be invaluable.

“We think he’s going to be a very effective part of creating a true partnership between Amtrak and the other operating railroads in a way that focuses on the customer,” said Coscia, who does not think Anderson’s lack of experience in a passenger railroad will work against him. “I think what he brings to the table from the standpoint of understanding a complicated transportation network that connects a lot of cities is all very applicable to what we do.”

Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach), in responding to the announcement of Anderson’s hiring, said Amtrak “needs to do a far better job than it currently has up until now” to justify its continued operation of Penn, despite running the fewest trains of all the railroads there.

“I sincerely hope that the new CEO will devote the attention to Penn Station that it justly deserves and has been sorely lacking,” Kaminsky said.

New Amtrak president and CEO

Richard Anderson

Age: 62

Hometown: Galveston, Texas

Education: Bachelor of arts degree from the University of Houston at Clear Lake City and a Juris Doctorate from South Texas College of Law.

Experience: Most recently served as executive chairman of the Delta Air Lines board of directors; CEO of Delta from 2007 to 2016; Executive vice president at United Healthcare from 2004 to 2007; CEO of Northwest Airlines from 2001 to 2004; Held law jobs in the legal division at Continental Airlines and as a prosecutor for Harris County, Texas.


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