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New head of operations at NS

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Palmland

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Trains newswire reports that Cindy Sanborn is the new head of operations at the NS. Why do we care? She may well be more receptive to Amtrak schedule changes and on time performance. At the least, she understands railroad operations before PSR and how to run trains, including passenger, in an efficient manner.

Some background: her dad was the President of CSX and did a good job of helping integrate the predecessor railroads in the late 80’s. He was a railfan and even provided his office car to Johnny Cash, also a rail fan, for a Nashville to Jax trip.. After CSX he had a short tenure at Conrail as its president before his untimely death. His daughter, Cindy, rose through the ranks at CSX and with the PSR Harrison coup moved to UP as this report Indicates:

“ Norfolk Southern today named Union Pacific executive Cindy Sanborn as its chief operating officer, a position she also held at CSX Transportation. Sanborn was one of the first women in the industry to hold an executive-level operations position...

Sanborn, who comes from a railroad family, in January 2018 was named regional vice president of transportation for UP’s Western Region. She moved into the new role the following month. She most recently served as vice president, network planning at UP and previously oversaw all activities in the railroad’s Northern Region.“

I suspect she and Wick Moorman share contact info!

This should probably be moved to another forum.
 

MikefromCrete

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She may be railroad royalty and know Wick Moorman, but she still works for a corporation that jumps when Wall Streeter cry "We want more money."
 

Seaboard92

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This is great news from everyone I've been talking to. Granted we were hoping she would take on the Amtrak CEO position. But it is still good news. I've bumped into her several times over the last few years and she has always been super friendly and nice to me.
 

Willbridge

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This is great news from everyone I've been talking to. Granted we were hoping she would take on the Amtrak CEO position. But it is still good news. I've bumped into her several times over the last few years and she has always been super friendly and nice to me.
I hope she can remain that way. I can't think of a senior railway executive who was rude to me, but I wasn't reporting to them. The only rudeness stories that I can tell involved low level supervisors or railway police.
 

Seaboard92

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I hope she can remain that way. I can't think of a senior railway executive who was rude to me, but I wasn't reporting to them. The only rudeness stories that I can tell involved low level supervisors or railway police.
I would say 90 percent of the senior railway executives I've ran into have been very cordial and polite. My personal favorite is Wick Moorman though. I spent two years working on Norfolk Southern's steam program, and I've seen him multiple times. But every time we bumped into each other was when I was taking a water break. So fast forward to the last trip of the 2016 season and I wasn't drinking when he passed by he's like "Where is your water?" and I'm like "I haven't had a chance to take a break yet." So five minutes later he found me and brought me a bottle of water. Now that is class.
 

jiml

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This is great news from everyone I've been talking to. Granted we were hoping she would take on the Amtrak CEO position. But it is still good news. I've bumped into her several times over the last few years and she has always been super friendly and nice to me.
Hey, if she likes you there's hope. :p ;)😇
 

MikefromCrete

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Well, it's good to know that Cindy Sanborn and Wick Moorman are nice people, but how does that translate into better operating conditions for Amtrak and commuter rail?
 
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Palmland

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Since former NS CEO Wick Moorman is discussed here, I thought it might be interesting to include a few photos of the Streamliners at Spencer (NC Transportation Museum and former Southern Ry shops) event in 2014 that he supported. Can you imagine one of today's railroad executives providing logistics for the movement (presumably at low cost) of all these locomotives to Spencer, providing resources for the rehab of much of the trackage there, and enabling the return of 611 that would result in the NS steam program. Talk about a railfan's CEO.

And, a free beer for anyone who recognizes the gentlemen with the hat in the photos of Moorman and two of the staff (maybe NS employee).

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Seaboard92

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Well, it's good to know that Cindy Sanborn and Wick Moorman are nice people, but how does that translate into better operating conditions for Amtrak and commuter rail?
My theory is those who are nicest to those on the ground, and those who are nicest to those who make a company great help bring about positive change. What sets both of them apart from others is that they both know the rail industry from the ground up, and they know how to talk to the boots on the ground to gather ideas.
 
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Willbridge

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My theory is those who are nicest to those on the ground, and those who are nicest to those who make a company great help bring about positive change. What sets both of them apart from others is that they both know the rail industry from the ground up, and they know how to talk to the boots on the ground to gather ideas.
That's often true. In 1967 I had a pleasant 20-minute chat on the Cascade with B. F. Biaggini about careers in the railroad industry; he still wanted to eliminate passengers. Also, he told me that they were going to buy more gallery cars for the Peninsula commute service and I had in my pocket a survey card that I had picked up at 3rd & Townsend that afternoon that was asking what type of equipment commuters would like to have. I didn't ask him how he knew in advance how the survey was going to come out.

To his credit, employees knew that after dinner in his business car he would walk through the train and chat with them. The lounge car attendant told me that D. J. Russell stayed in his business car throughout a trip.

In that night, men in business suits just happened to be standing around on the platform in Dunsmuir and we arrived early at every division point. In the morning Biaggini and retinue alighted in Salem to visit the governor and the local switcher interrupted its morning work to set out the business car ('Sunset'). It was easy to see why a person in that position could get a swelled head.

In the B&W photo they're off to see the governor and in the color photo 'Sunset' is on the rear of the Amtrak Coast Starlight.

13k Salem SP Depot wi execs.jpg


Rynerson 1975 CS business car (2).jpg
 

Palmland

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Interesting story and photos. How often do you think Amtrak sleeping car attendants stand at their station besides the open door, in the rain, with no passengers in sight. Amtrak is not the Pullman company.

I remember Biaggini in the late 60’s was in discussion with SCL about a possible merger . Wouldn’t that have been something.
 

me_little_me

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My theory is those who are nicest to those on the ground, and those who are nicest to those who make a company great help bring about positive change. What sets both of them apart from others is that they both know the rail industry from the ground up, and they know how to talk to the boots on the ground to gather ideas.
Yes, but what is best for the company, the shareholders; their customers, their employees, their industry, their country are often at odds with each other. Being nice is a "political" thing - it makes friends; it makes people like you personally; it makes people trust you. It does not necessarily help those in the groups I mentioned.
 

MARC Rider

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Interesting story and photos. How often do you think Amtrak sleeping car attendants stand at their station besides the open door, in the rain, with no passengers in sight. Amtrak is not the Pullman company.

I remember Biaggini in the late 60’s was in discussion with SCL about a possible merger . Wouldn’t that have been something.
Why should sleeping car attendants stand out in the rain by the open door, especially if there are no passengers in sight?
 

MARC Rider

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Yes, but what is best for the company, the shareholders; their customers, their employees, their industry, their country are often at odds with each other. Being nice is a "political" thing - it makes friends; it makes people like you personally; it makes people trust you. It does not necessarily help those in the groups I mentioned.
I think that Seaboard's looking at the longer-term. If you're nasty (or even indifferent) to employees and customers for the sake of short-term financial gain, the employees will take it out on the customers, and the customers will do business with someone else. That's not really good for the long-term health of the company or its shareholders.
 

MikefromCrete

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Interesting story and photos. How often do you think Amtrak sleeping car attendants stand at their station besides the open door, in the rain, with no passengers in sight. Amtrak is not the Pullman company.

I remember Biaggini in the late 60’s was in discussion with SCL about a possible merger . Wouldn’t that have been something.
What would be the point of attendants standing in the rain for no passengers? I fail to see how you think this was a good idea.
 

Seaboard92

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I think that Seaboard's looking at the longer-term. If you're nasty (or even indifferent) to employees and customers for the sake of short-term financial gain, the employees will take it out on the customers, and the customers will do business with someone else. That's not really good for the long-term health of the company or its shareholders.
That is exactly what I'm getting after. The better you treat someone and make them feel they are worth something the higher likelihood they will do good work. If you treat them like they are dirt they will overtime get worse.

What would be the point of attendants standing in the rain for no passengers? I fail to see how you think this was a good idea.
I'm actually so old school that I will stand in rain or snow at attention for the entire boarding process even if all of my passengers are on board. Oftentimes the tourist railroad I work for doesn't give me a manifest for each individual car so I stay at attention until departure time and its time to give the highball. Now the car hosts we have generally won't do that, or stand at attention for any part of the boarding process. But I'm incredibly old school.
 

Palmland

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I'll second Seaboard's comment. And, I would point out that the Pullman Co. had a strict set of procedures that employees had to follow. It was not optional as at Amtrak.

In this case, I believe the point is that part of their job is to assist the passenger boarding and getting off. And they really did assist. They offered you a hand to help you balance, handled your bags for you and made sure a late arriving passenger wasn't left behind. In this case a passenger might choose to step off for some fresh air or run into the station if time permitted. In those days it wasn't uncommon for a passenger to be a walk up at the ticket counter for a late purchase. You always received a smile and an offer to assist.

The customer always came first. In today's world, can you imagine entering or leaving a plane without a flight attendant to greet you or thank you for traveling. It hasn't taken us long to accept Amtrak's mediocre service as the norm.
 

railiner

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So why the difference in service at Pullman vs. Amtrak? My answer: Pullman's staff was accountable to someone; Amtrak's are not.
The decorum required by the Pullman Company was rather heavy handed by today's standard's, and modern day attendant's would never be that deferential to their customer's....its a different culture today. Today, an attendant can view their customer's as equals, not as 'superior's', and good service would be to be polite and friendly, and not obsequious.
 

MARC Rider

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The decorum required by the Pullman Company was rather heavy handed by today's standard's, and modern day attendant's would never be that deferential to their customer's....its a different culture today. Today, an attendant can view their customers as equals, not as 'superiors', and good service would be to be polite and friendly, and not obsequious.
I think we should also keep in mind the racial identity of the vast majority of Pullman porters and the fact that prior to 1865, most of the people of that racial identity were doing "service work" while enslaved. There's a history here, and I think that on the basis of that history none of us today have any right to expect excessively obsequious service from any service worker, regardless of their racial identity. Polite, friendly (and efficient, I would add) is all we need, or deserve.
 

Seaboard92

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I'll second Seaboard's comment. And, I would point out that the Pullman Co. had a strict set of procedures that employees had to follow. It was not optional as at Amtrak.

The customer always came first. In today's world, can you imagine entering or leaving a plane without a flight attendant to greet you or thank you for traveling. It hasn't taken us long to accept Amtrak's mediocre service as the norm.
If you want to experience the Pullman Company's policies first hand may I recommend a ride on the Dover Harbor private car (DCNRHS). They follow the Pullman policies to the last letter everything is original as Pullman would have had it in the 1930s. It is really amazing what they are able to pull together. It still has a conventional coal fire stove too. I was taught how to be an attendant by one of their chefs so for me the customer is always coming first. And you are exactly right the airlines especially the foreign ones are very rigid about greeting all passengers as they board the plane and assist passengers get settled. Of course that is also self motivated too because the sooner the cabin is settled, the sooner the doors can close and they can begin to get paid.

The decorum required by the Pullman Company was rather heavy handed by today's standard's, and modern day attendant's would never be that deferential to their customer's....its a different culture today. Today, an attendant can view their customer's as equals, not as 'superior's', and good service would be to be polite and friendly, and not obsequious.
I view my passengers as my superiors because without their business my railroad would be forced to close down. And if they close down I would have to find another job in an industry I don't love as much as I love the rails. I know me and several other PV attendants, and tourist railroad employees feel the same way. We see that if we do everything to cater to our passengers because we know that without them we are all unemployed. I've never understood why a decent amount of Amtrak's employees don't understand that theory.

It should also be noted I generally work first class at our tourist railroad and rarely will I work the coaches. But when I work the coaches I treat the passengers in the exact same way I would treat our first class passengers. Everyone deserves to feel good about themselves. My job is to serve and I will do it to the best of my abilities.

Maybe Amtrak should hire me to do OBS training that would be an interesting experiment.
 
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