NY Times: Anderson out, William Flynn in

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zephyr17

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Jul 22, 2009
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Can't help but think having Congress get in his face was an unpleasant surprise and may have something to do with his agreement to get out of Dodge.

He came in great guns with his inane proposal to literally get Amtrak out of Dodge City with his SWC bus bridge. No doubt he had agreement with Gardiner and the rest of the board when he tried to get that turkey to fly.

Then he found out that he wasn't responsible just to a board when he got slapped silly by Congress. He clearly would not have been able to do what he dearly would have liked to do with long distance service. Messing about with agents and food service was about all he could do, bad as that was. Congress tied his hands. It must have been frustrating...
 

cirdan

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Mar 30, 2011
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What requirements should the new CEO bring?

Some say he should understand transportation. But if its an airline guy people say he doesn't get LD trains.
Some say he should understand hospitality. But if you bring in a hotel guy, people say he doesn't get transportation.
Some say he should understand the luxury segment. But if you bring in a cruise guy, people say he doesn't get coach passengers.
Some say he should understand the low end segment. But if you bring in a Greyhound guy people say he wants to do everything on the cheap.
Some say he should be a railroad guy. But if you bring one in, people say he doesn't understand passenger stuff.
Some say it should be an Amtrak internal promotion. But then people say he doesn't have the outside perspective.
 

AmtrakBlue

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Can't help but think having Congress get in his face was an unpleasant surprise and may have something to do with his agreement to get out of Dodge.

He came in great guns with his inane proposal to literally get Amtrak out of Dodge City with his SWC bus bridge. No doubt he had agreement with Gardiner and the rest of the board when he tried to get that turkey to fly.

Then he found out that he wasn't responsible just to a board when he got slapped silly by Congress. He clearly would not have been able to do what he dearly would have liked to do with long distance service. Messing about with agents and food service was about all he could do, bad as that was. Congress tied his hands. It must have been frustrating...
1) I believe his short contact was up this year, so he’s not leaving because of interactions with Congress.

2) He was abiding by Congresses mandate to make F&B not operate at a loss, so how is that “messing with food service”?
 

railiner

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Mar 20, 2009
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Being that Anderson was on a short term contract with bonuses over base pay, I don't think Anderson's tenure was ever meant to be long term. Anderson was the turnaround specialist, this guy is probably the long term pick..
I had thought that Wick Moorman was the “turnaround specialist”, and laid the groundwork for his long-term replacement.
The job seems like a revolving door...o_O
 

AGM.12

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Jan 3, 2018
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According to, I believe, Railway Age, Mr. Flynn's father was a Conrail engineer and his uncle was one for Amtrak. He also has a brother who is a conductor with Amtrak active in his union local. So Amtrak is not an unknown quantity to him.
 

Barb Stout

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Mar 13, 2019
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From the Railway Age article, "...“We want to continue the modernization of Amtrak that started four years ago with Wick Moorman, and then accelerated under Richard Anderson...." What did Wick Moorman do that is meant by "the modernization of Amtrak"? I am relatively new to paying attention to Amtrak and wasn't part of this forum during that time.
 

jis

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Anyone know if Gardner will still be with Amtrak?
Gardner is of course still at Amtrak. Why would he leave? He has nothing to do with Anderson and his three year contract per se. He is a full time regular employee of Amtrak AFAIK.
 

rrdude

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While I too would prefer a leader with some "passenger railroad experience", they are few and far between. (outside of Brightline, and former Amtrak C-suite level execs, there is not a big pool to choose from...I think Brian Rosenwald would be ideal, alas...) However, JUST BECAUSE the new skipper doesn't come with the pedigree that we would like, doesn't mean we need to slam the board's decision out of the gate. Mr. Flynn is obviously qualified to lead a large organization, has experience with unions, (good-bad-ugly-debatable) "knows" the transportation industry inside-and-out, and should be given a fair chance to make his mark upon Amtrak.

Amtrak didn't really "suffer" under Anderson, in fact, quite the opposite. While I was not in favor of MANY of his decisions, primarily the disaster they call "Flexible Dining" and the retiring of the PPCs, many of his other decisions were the right decisions, they were just unpopular. Take the new(er) ticketing penalties? Very unpopular, but a wise move IMHO. Staffed stations? That's truly debatable, as some Amtrak agents were indeed revenue-generators and community ambassadors, but's it's hard to evaluate each station individually, but it SHOULD have been done, not the across the board cuts like Anderson did.

I think Amtrak's CEO needs to make hard decisions, not EZ decisions, any moron can do that. It might be "hard" to offer both basic transportation for the masses, AND sell a luxury product that pays for itself, but there is likely a market for both. It might be "hard" to empower field employees to make decisions that influence revenue in a positive manner, like selling rooms for a discount, once the train has left the station, or "low priced entrees" for inventory that is going to be condemned anyway upon arrival at the terminal... or PV hauling, or Special Charters, that, in the worst case, break even, but more than make up for it in public relations.

Think outside the box, invite the unions to the table for REAL discussions and change, and do something, do a LOT OF THINGS; DIFFERENT. Because what Amtrak has been doing for the last 49 years, just isn't good enough for the next 49. Not by a long shot. That train has left the station, and it ain't comin' back.
 

LookingGlassTie

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While I too would prefer a leader with some "passenger railroad experience", they are few and far between. (outside of Brightline, and former Amtrak C-suite level execs, there is not a big pool to choose from...I think Brian Rosenwald would be ideal, alas...) However, JUST BECAUSE the new skipper doesn't come with the pedigree that we would like, doesn't mean we need to slam the board's decision out of the gate. Mr. Flynn is obviously qualified to lead a large organization, has experience with unions, (good-bad-ugly-debatable) "knows" the transportation industry inside-and-out, and should be given a fair chance to make his mark upon Amtrak.

Amtrak didn't really "suffer" under Anderson, in fact, quite the opposite. While I was not in favor of MANY of his decisions, primarily the disaster they call "Flexible Dining" and the retiring of the PPCs, many of his other decisions were the right decisions, they were just unpopular. Take the new(er) ticketing penalties? Very unpopular, but a wise move IMHO. Staffed stations? That's truly debatable, as some Amtrak agents were indeed revenue-generators and community ambassadors, but's it's hard to evaluate each station individually, but it SHOULD have been done, not the across the board cuts like Anderson did.

I think Amtrak's CEO needs to make hard decisions, not EZ decisions, any moron can do that. It might be "hard" to offer both basic transportation for the masses, AND sell a luxury product that pays for itself, but there is likely a market for both. It might be "hard" to empower field employees to make decisions that influence revenue in a positive manner, like selling rooms for a discount, once the train has left the station, or "low priced entrees" for inventory that is going to be condemned anyway upon arrival at the terminal... or PV hauling, or Special Charters, that, in the worst case, break even, but more than make up for it in public relations.

Think outside the box, invite the unions to the table for REAL discussions and change, and do something, do a LOT OF THINGS; DIFFERENT. Because what Amtrak has been doing for the last 49 years, just isn't good enough for the next 49. Not by a long shot. That train has left the station, and it ain't comin' back.
^This^
 

Rasputin

OBS Chief
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Jan 17, 2019
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700
I will vote for Patricia Quinn for Amtrak CEO. She may not be a veteran railroader but she knows what needs to be done and she gets it done. We have suffered enough under those with "railroad experience."
 

west point

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In the end It is all about customer service. All the listed needs for a chief executive comes down to customer service. Clean interiors, easy reservations, available seats, food, handling of various problems especially delays, cancellations, etc.
 

crescent-zephyr

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I had thought that Wick Moorman was the “turnaround specialist”, and laid the groundwork for his long-term replacement.
The job seems like a revolving door...o_O
He was doing a good job too. It’s a shame Amtrak couldn’t have kept him longer, he “got it” both with NS and Amtrak. Both have taken a turn for the worse since his departure.
 

zephyr17

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Have to say I agree with the comment that maybe a candidate from the hospitality industry may make a lot of sense.
 

jis

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He was doing a good job too. It’s a shame Amtrak couldn’t have kept him longer, he “got it” both with NS and Amtrak. Both have taken a turn for the worse since his departure.
He is the one that did not want to stay. His appointment was for a year. He did stick around a bit longer.
Have to say I agree with the comment that maybe a candidate from the hospitality industry may make a lot of sense.
The CEO of Brightline, Patrick Goddard is from the Hospitality industry. His background is in hotel management.
 

neroden

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Feb 23, 2014
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From the Railway Age article, "...“We want to continue the modernization of Amtrak that started four years ago with Wick Moorman, and then accelerated under Richard Anderson...." What did Wick Moorman do that is meant by "the modernization of Amtrak"? I am relatively new to paying attention to Amtrak and wasn't part of this forum during that time.
Nothing. It's corporate-brag-speak.
 

neroden

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Feb 23, 2014
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Well this leaves me with some questions:

Was there a "no confidence" vote by the board against Anderson (or something similar)?
I'm pretty sure. Mr. Anderson didn't have the common sense to avoid yelling at Senators, who are his bosses. At that point I said his days were numbered. The Board are all political creatures of DC, they understand how it works, and they probably turned against him as soon as he proved incapable of being polite to Congress.

As Amtrak CEO, you can disagree with Congress, but you have to respect that they are your bosses, and Mr. Anderson didn't.
 

neroden

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I knew him as a sales director at CSX before being promoted to other positions and eventually head of Merchandise Service (sales and marketing). He left in 2002. He can certainly 'speak railroad' but not sure what skills he brings as far as passenger rail or transit. Apparently that's no longer important but he should be an improvement over Anderson.
Having a long history in sales & marketing means that he probably has more awareness of *customer satisfaction* issues than Mr. Anderson did. I read the press release from when Atlas hired him -- apparently he spent a lot of time with Sea-Land, which had a good reputation. After CSX idiotically sold Sea-Land and engaged in the idiotic Conrail merger, Mr. Flynn was apparently called back (presumably at a raise) to recover the freight customers lost to bad service. Atlas has run passenger charters, which are an intensely customer-satisfaction-based business.

Freight customers have different satisfaction metrics than passengers, though some things are the same: run the trains on time, deliver everything in good condition. But just a focus on customer satisfaction would be different from Anderson's reckless disregard of customer satisfaction.
 

neroden

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Feb 23, 2014
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Amtrak didn't really "suffer" under Anderson, in fact, quite the opposite. While I was not in favor of MANY of his decisions, primarily the disaster they call "Flexible Dining"
I think we can all agree that that was an act of total mismanagement. I'm OK with cold food in boxes if it's done *well* but this was just *junk* which requires me and anyone else trying to eat a half-decent meal to take our own food.

and the retiring of the PPCs,
They were a maintenance nightmare and weren't pulliing their weight financially -- that's one of the few Anderson decisions I actually agree with.

Unfortunately he failed to understand why they were there in the first place -- overflow demand in the dining car and lounge car. Something should have been planned to address that problem (though I think it would have to be part of the new fleet order).

many of his other decisions were the right decisions, they were just unpopular. Take the new(er) ticketing penalties? Very unpopular, but a wise move IMHO.
Nope. Unwise move. Reputation destroying money loser.

The whole "offer low teaser prices and then mistreat people on the back end, taking their money and giving them nothing when their plans have to change" scheme often backfires. It's certainly not a selling point. Some foreign airlines have dropped it entirely because the amount of money the scam makes is not worth the customer dissatisfaction.

Really, what does it cost Amtrak to offer free *changes* of ticket? Nothing! It fills seats which wouldn't be sold otherwise, typically. The correct move IMNSHO is to make it difficult to get cash refunds but really easy to get vouchers for future travel. This sort of "locks people into Amtrak" -- even people who are unhappy end up taking another trip using the vouchers. This was the system under Boardman -- full value in a voucher, significant fee if you wanted cash back.

Instead, the new penalties-for-everyone scheme just make it more likely for people to take the cash refund, get angry at Amtrak for the stolen money from the refund fee, and buy tickets from someone else next time. Dumbassery.

Staffed stations? That's truly debatable, as some Amtrak agents were indeed revenue-generators and community ambassadors, but's it's hard to evaluate each station individually, but it SHOULD have been done, not the across the board cuts like Anderson did.
Boardman and Moorman were both successfully destaffing smaller stations, quietly. Anderson was idiotic enough to destaff Cincinatti, which obviously should be staffed, and that got a backlash. Again, dumbassery.

One can get a lot more done if one doesn't make high-profile, stupid moves which anger people.
 

Anderson

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Well, and if I had to guess, someone probably told him that there was a good chance Congress would continue doing so. Given what he's dealt with so far, I suspect that would have been enough.
 

neroden

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If he'd taken a less egomanaical approach he probably could have implemented an agenda. Ignoring and yelling at your bosses is not a good way to get an agenda implemented.

The business with Cincy is still gobsmacking to me -- anyone with common sense would have kept the station agent there, and a couple of the other most high-profile locations, and been able to cut the station agents everywhere else they wanted to cut them with few objections. Instead, by picking a fight over a case where Amtrak was *clearly wrong*, they ended up with legislation ordering them to put back *all* the station agents.

I don't know what Flynn is going to do, but I suspect he's going to be a lot smoother about it, whatever it is.
 

Tom Booth

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If he'd taken a less egomanaical approach he probably could have implemented an agenda. Ignoring and yelling at your bosses is not a good way to get an agenda implemented.

The business with Cincy is still gobsmacking to me -- anyone with common sense would have kept the station agent there, and a couple of the other most high-profile locations, and been able to cut the station agents everywhere else they wanted to cut them with few objections. Instead, by picking a fight over a case where Amtrak was *clearly wrong*, they ended up with legislation ordering them to put back *all* the station agents.

I don't know what Flynn is going to do, but I suspect he's going to be a lot smoother about it, whatever it is.
Let's hope.
 
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