Richard Anderson replacing Wick Moorman as Amtrak CEO

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

Joined
Dec 26, 2014
Messages
2,815
Oh my goodness--you are in for a treat--go search Anderson on this thread and start with those, then wander around just about anywhere and you'll find tons of opinions about him [hint--many not good, with a few people willing to give him more of a chance than the rest of us].
 

Qapla

OBS Chief
Joined
Jul 15, 2019
Messages
840
Yes, about half of the threads bemoan his "improvements" to the national rail system
 
Joined
Jan 28, 2020
Messages
13
What do you think of his decisions so far? I take the train almost daily all over and have heard feedback from many long time Amtrak Employees.....I am hoping to get better insight from my fellow regular Amtrak travelers to see if the transition from CEO of an airline to CEO of our real only true national rail option here in the US is making sense.

MODERATOR NOTE: This thread (in Amtrak Future forum) was merged with an existing thread regarding the "new" CEO.
I had at least some hope that Anderson might just be a good thing. Amtrak certainly needed some help. I am forced to think otherwise based on what I have seen so far. He has demonstrated an almost complete lack of understanding of what rail travel can be and everything is based on his airline experience in which he seems to assume that if it worked at Delta the same thing will work at Amtrak because Delta "made money (an iffy concept if the true costs were allocated). They are two different things. For example: There is nothing wrong with pre-prepared food and limiting food expenses. I have had some horrible meals on the City of New Orleans (pre Anderson) so there was plenty of room for improvement. I have had fine meals on Thalys in Europe, all cold, which were delicious and nicely served. It can be done, but it isn't because he doesn't even know enough to check what others are doing. The current first class food is no worth of first class on an airline. Or the "end point" issue. If I get on the Crescent in New Orleans and go to Baltimore, I am not at his idea of an endpoint, but they are my endpoints. He doesn't understand that trains stop at more than one station: duh. I doubt that he has ridden long distance, eaten the food or talked to the customers and employees. Why? Because he doesn't care. Does it really have to be long distance versus corridor? Why not both? The man is arrogant.
 

neroden

Conductor
Joined
Feb 23, 2014
Messages
7,759
What he said about the food -- cold prepackaged meals can be done well, like on the Thalys, but are not being done well by Amtrak. And what he said about endpoints -- this is a classic issue of airplane thinking, not realizing that trains do best making many stops and the implications of that, because airplanes always go endpoint to endpoint.
 

neroden

Conductor
Joined
Feb 23, 2014
Messages
7,759
Here's the thing, you and I are lucky. Chicago and New York are large cities that are each served by well over a dozen routes, most of them being short distance. Now compare that to states like Montana, West Virginia, Nebraska, North Dakota, which have Amtrak service limited to *one* long distance route. Those are entire states which get the entirety of their intercity rail service from a single long distance train. If you get rid of the LD network, what happens to those people?
Hell, if you want to go from upstate NY to Chicago, count your choices: 1 LD train.

And Denver service? 1 train. Same with Albuquerque and Tucson. These are not small towns.
 

Anderson

Conductor
Joined
Nov 16, 2010
Messages
9,563
Hell, if you want to go from upstate NY to Chicago, count your choices: 1 LD train.

And Denver service? 1 train. Same with Albuquerque and Tucson. These are not small towns.
This highlights a generalized cognitive disconnect. People see "Multiple trains from A to C" and forget that they all serve a different B. Case in point "There are three trains from New York to Chicago" ignores the heavy lack of overlap on the routes.

Of course, one of the biggest problems I think advocates have is that as soon as a city/town has "a train" that's often seen as sufficient, and that is something that Anderson zeroed in on as being wrong even if he misapplied the wrong cure.
 

sttom

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 23, 2019
Messages
408
Personally I think someone from Southwest Airlines would make a better leader if we are stuck with getting former airline executives running Amtrak. Or even someone from a hotel chain would make more sense running Amtrak. To agree with what others have pointed out, 1 train per day is insufficient. Especially when half of the line will have the 1 train showing up in the middle of the night. Amtrak needs more corridor and mid distance day trains to drive up ridership. Amtrak can't grow it's ridership much more, and therefore it's finances, unless it physically grows. But no one in Congress or Amtrak or frankly a lot of rail advocates are willing to say this. People get so caught up in the "preserve the national network vs dismantle it for regional trains" debate that we collectively ignore the fact that Amtrak needs both to survive in the long term. Most Amtrak routes are routes it inherited from the private railroads and they were planned for the traveling public of 1930. Amtrak needs leadership that understands it needs to expand beyond the national network, be open about that requiring money, and understands what it takes to grow. And Anderson is definitely not that person. I'm not sure who exactly would fit the bill.
 

Thirdrail7

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Jul 9, 2014
Messages
4,459
Amtrak needs more corridor and mid distance day trains to drive up ridership. Amtrak can't grow it's ridership much more, and therefore it's finances, unless it physically grows.But no one in Congress or Amtrak or frankly a lot of rail advocates are willing to say this.
Amtrak needs leadership that understands it needs to expand beyond the national network, be open about that requiring money, and understands what it takes to grow. And Anderson is definitely not that person. I'm not sure who exactly would fit the bill.
Actually, Mr. Boardman championed all of this but it boiled down to funding. You started seeing corridor expansions under his watch and you also saw him cheerlead for the LD trains. You also saw PIP for the LD network but the plans weren't acted on.

Why?

Funding. No one wants to fund these expensive items and the improvements necessary to what consider an outdated mode of transportation.
 

sttom

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 23, 2019
Messages
408
Why?

Funding. No one wants to fund these expensive items and the improvements necessary to what consider an outdated mode of transportation.
Outmoded to whom, the people currently running the government? A lot of people there are old enough to remember the pre Amtrak days. I was born 20 years after Amtrak took over. A train might not be as sexy as whatever not a train tube scheme Elon Musk is pushing, but younger people like myself would like to have the option of taking a train to places rather than driving or flying everywhere. It's not uncommon to hear "eh it's only 8 hours, I can drive" or "I can put up with Southwest for a couple hours" (I've even said this one) or "is there even a train?" or "all I can afford is the bus". We want options and if you want to talk expense, a mile of new double track costs between $2.3 and $2.7 million per mile, you can't build a highway that cheap in a rural area.
 

neroden

Conductor
Joined
Feb 23, 2014
Messages
7,759
Actually, Mr. Boardman championed all of this but it boiled down to funding. You started seeing corridor expansions under his watch and you also saw him cheerlead for the LD trains. You also saw PIP for the LD network but the plans weren't acted on.

Why?

Funding. No one wants to fund these expensive items and the improvements necessary to what consider an outdated mode of transportation.
I believe you are flat out wrong about the PIPs. The recommendations were on the whole profitable and certainly did not require significant funding. The choice to not implement them was purest sabotage, designed to require more Congressional subsidy.

It is not about funding. It is about attitude. They are often not willing to do things which would benefit the bottom line if they involve the so-called long distance trains.
 

Thirdrail7

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Jul 9, 2014
Messages
4,459
I believe you are flat out wrong about the PIPs. The recommendations were on the whole profitable and certainly did not require significant funding. The choice to not implement them was purest sabotage, designed to require more Congressional subsidy.

It is not about funding. It is about attitude. They are often not willing to do things which would benefit the bottom line if they involve the so-called long distance trains.
A lot of that is the funding isn't there to pay for things to improve the bottom line and doing certain things with the long-distance network often brought the eye of Congress...who would then attack. How can you determine what is significant or not when you don't have enough to fund what is already operating, let alone improvements?

Even now, you have to fight to fund and prioritize the national network. The problem now is that it seems you have a Congressional group that seems as though they may want to fund the operation (or at least not kill it), it seems we have a management team that seems interested in killing it.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: OBS

Philly Amtrak Fan

Conductor
Joined
Jul 25, 2015
Messages
2,004
A lot of that is the funding isn't there to pay for things to improve the bottom line and doing certain things with the long-distance network often brought the eye of Congress...who would then attack. How can you determine what is significant or not when you don't have enough to fund what is already operating, let alone improvements?

Even now, you have to fight to fund and prioritize the national network. The problem now is that it seems you have a Congressional group that seems as though they may want to fund the operation (or at least not kill it), it seems we have a management team that seems interested in killing it.
You have a management team that is thinking of Amtrak like a company and a Congress that is thinking of Amtrak like a public service, hence the disconnect. RPA and most rail advocates will always ask why can't Amtrak serve both the "national network" (if you consider White Sulphur Springs, WV and Wolf Point, MT national) and corridor service? The answer of course is $$$$. Congress said via the 750 mile that most of the expansions that Anderson/Gardner want aren't their problem, go ask the states. If Congress were as willing to fund Dallas/Houston service or Nashville to anywhere service as much as they were Rugby to Shelby service, I don't think Anderson/Gardner would be trying as much to kill the LD trains (assuming these corridor trains were bringing in enough $). Maybe Anderson/Gardner should strategize like I am and tell Congress Amtrak wants the money to do corridor expansion and Congress says they don't have it then Amtrak should say let's get rid of some of these routes to nowhere and pit service vs. each other. We keep saying Manchin doesn't want to lose the Cardinal. How about Senators in other states who potentially could gain service? I'd love to see them fight over who gets trains. Have Anderson/Gardner expose the hypocrisy of the Amtrak LD system once and for all. If Amtrak is a public service, make it a true public service and expand it. If it's a company and is expected to cover its operating costs, do so. No in between. People in Las Vegas shouldn't be paying federal taxes for trains they can't ride.
 

toddinde

Train Attendant
Joined
Apr 23, 2015
Messages
97
Personally I think someone from Southwest Airlines would make a better leader if we are stuck with getting former airline executives running Amtrak. Or even someone from a hotel chain would make more sense running Amtrak. To agree with what others have pointed out, 1 train per day is insufficient. Especially when half of the line will have the 1 train showing up in the middle of the night. Amtrak needs more corridor and mid distance day trains to drive up ridership. Amtrak can't grow it's ridership much more, and therefore it's finances, unless it physically grows. But no one in Congress or Amtrak or frankly a lot of rail advocates are willing to say this. People get so caught up in the "preserve the national network vs dismantle it for regional trains" debate that we collectively ignore the fact that Amtrak needs both to survive in the long term. Most Amtrak routes are routes it inherited from the private railroads and they were planned for the traveling public of 1930. Amtrak needs leadership that understands it needs to expand beyond the national network, be open about that requiring money, and understands what it takes to grow. And Anderson is definitely not that person. I'm not sure who exactly would fit the bill.
I respectfully disagree with much of what you are saying, and I would commend to your attention to some of the work of Andrew Seldon in this area. The long distance network is as skeletal as it can be. It cannot absorb any more cuts. The long distance train is a model of efficiency. It serves equally the person traveling 70 miles or 1,000 miles. It serves an infinite number of enroute corridors, yet achieved economies of scale with maintenance facilities only in major terminals. Corridors are incredibly expensive to develop. Look at the NEC with around $30 billion in deferred maintenance. The long distance trains achieve incredible market penetration. If 5,000 people board annually in a town of 10,000, that’s an incredible market share. The economic impact on these towns is also incredible. Please see the study from the Trent Lott Institute That bears this out. The national network costs us roughly $500 million a year. That is a rounding error in the US budget. For that, we get a national rail system including yards, terminals, and service to towns and cities nationally. You ask how to grow Amtrak? Partner with the freight railroads to fund capacity improvements that would allow you to do things like extend the Heartland Flyer to connect with the Chief. Add a Denver-Pueblo connection to the Chief opening up Denver-Albuquerque-LA possibilities. Run the Sunset Limited daily through Phoenix. Add a section of the Texas Eagle to run through Midland and Odessa to connect to the Sunset in El Paso. That would be a second two night Chicago - LA train. Run the Sunset through Phoenix again. Add capacity to existing long distance trains so there are more seats and sleepers in peak seasons. Get a standard single level car so equipment can be moved to other routes during seasonal fluctuations. Add a second daily frequency on many, if not all, long distance routes. I do agree that there is a historical fixation on Chicago which is probably not warranted since the growth in the country is in the south and west. Not taking anything away from Chicago, but to really grow the system, it needs to grow in the south and west. Finally, we need to stop with the nonsense that it’s either the corridors or the long distance trains. We can and must develop both. But there is no place for dismantling any long distance trains on such a skeletal system. Nor should developed traffic patterns that go back many decades be disrupted. Adding is the way to experiment.
 

toddinde

Train Attendant
Joined
Apr 23, 2015
Messages
97
You have a management team that is thinking of Amtrak like a company and a Congress that is thinking of Amtrak like a public service, hence the disconnect. RPA and most rail advocates will always ask why can't Amtrak serve both the "national network" (if you consider White Sulphur Springs, WV and Wolf Point, MT national) and corridor service? The answer of course is $$$$. Congress said via the 750 mile that most of the expansions that Anderson/Gardner want aren't their problem, go ask the states. If Congress were as willing to fund Dallas/Houston service or Nashville to anywhere service as much as they were Rugby to Shelby service, I don't think Anderson/Gardner would be trying as much to kill the LD trains (assuming these corridor trains were bringing in enough $). Maybe Anderson/Gardner should strategize like I am and tell Congress Amtrak wants the money to do corridor expansion and Congress says they don't have it then Amtrak should say let's get rid of some of these routes to nowhere and pit service vs. each other. We keep saying Manchin doesn't want to lose the Cardinal. How about Senators in other states who potentially could gain service? I'd love to see them fight over who gets trains. Have Anderson/Gardner expose the hypocrisy of the Amtrak LD system once and for all. If Amtrak is a public service, make it a true public service and expand it. If it's a company and is expected to cover its operating costs, do so. No in between. People in Las Vegas shouldn't be paying federal taxes for trains they can't ride.
You’re right! I think a rail infrastructure funding program to dissect where the railroads have issues that, if addressed, would improve reliability and allow Amtrak to add service is a great way to go. You create good jobs, you add passenger mobility, you improve the movement of freight by rail which has a huge impact on greenhouse gas emissions and on congestion and wear and tear on highways. There is a severe shortage of qualified truck drivers anyway. It’s an all around win.
 

Seaboard92

Conductor
Joined
Dec 31, 2014
Messages
3,423
Don’t forget there is one other added benefit to adding capacity that actually works in Congress. An efficient rail system is in the nations best interest for defense. Sure you can move things by air and road. But it isn’t nearly as efficient as by rail.
 

neroden

Conductor
Joined
Feb 23, 2014
Messages
7,759
You have a management team that is thinking of Amtrak like a company
I don't think so. As a professional investor, I see a management team who is thinking of Amtrak as a private vehicle for their own personal idiosycratic tastes, and no interest in efficient use of funds -- NOT as a business. (Happens all too often in the corporate world.)
 

neroden

Conductor
Joined
Feb 23, 2014
Messages
7,759
A lot of that is the funding isn't there to pay for things to improve the bottom line and doing certain things with the long-distance network often brought the eye of Congress...who would then attack. How can you determine what is significant or not when you don't have enough to fund what is already operating, let alone improvements?
Amtrak's had enough to fund what's already operating for years, and has had excess to fund improvements. How do you think we got the Viewliner II order? (Admittedly that should not have gone to Talgo... but that's another matter)

There's really no excuse for the revenue-destroying changes to food service on the LSL, formerly home of the highest coach-passenger sales in the dining car. There's no excuse for not doing the work to run the Pennsylvanian-Capitol Limited through cars, a profitable enterprise by any measure; a commercial loan could have covered the cost of the one switch necessary.
 

drdumont

Service Attendant
AU Supporter
Joined
Apr 16, 2017
Messages
192
Can't think of an airline executive I would want at Amtrak. Certainly not from Southwest, the Cattle Cars of the sky.
"Here's your NOT peanuts - now sit down and shut up".
 

Palmland

OBS Chief
Joined
May 25, 2006
Messages
789
Can't think of an airline executive I would want at Amtrak. Certainly not from Southwest, the Cattle Cars of the sky.
"Here's your NOT peanuts - now sit down and shut up".
Gotta disagree with this. Southwest planes are clean, the crews are friendly, in many cases they have terminals or concourses that are delightful (thinking of Houston Hobby and the new concourse at Charlotte), no silly fees, and I like their seating procedures where there aren’t five different fares depending on your seat assignment. If you sign in 24hrs in advance we have always had our pick of seats. And of course they generally beat the competition on fares, excepting the airlines that are truly cattle cars: Allegiant, Frontier, Spirit.

But, I’d still rather be on a train!
 

drdumont

Service Attendant
AU Supporter
Joined
Apr 16, 2017
Messages
192
Gotta disagree with this. Southwest planes are clean, the crews are friendly, in many cases they have terminals or concourses that are delightful (thinking of Houston Hobby and the new concourse at Charlotte), no silly fees, and I like their seating procedures where there aren’t five different fares depending on your seat assignment. If you sign in 24hrs in advance we have always had our pick of seats. And of course they generally beat the competition on fares, excepting the airlines that are truly cattle cars: Allegiant, Frontier, Spirit.

But, I’d still rather be on a train!
Indeed, there are worse airlines, and SW's fans are a diehard lot. And good on 'em! Oddly enough, I never really saw that much of a savings unless I cold book wayyyy out. Maybe I didn't look hard enough. And it was a pain in the gluteus maximus for me to get to Love Field when DFW was only 3 miles away.

I damn near got fired a couple of times for refusing to fly on an airline that couldn't or wouldn't assign me a seat. I won't sit in a center seat, and have stepped off the aircraft if that is the only option.
In over 50 years of constant airline travel, I got kinda picky to be sure. Flew mostly First the last 20 years because of accumulated status. Tried SW a couple of times in the later years. Don't like the cattle call procedure.
Lotsa props to Herb Kelleher, made me a little money in the market, but I flew American to the last.
Haven't been on an aircraft in 3 years, don't plan on getting on one any time soon. It's either Amtrak or my Tesla 3, or I stay home.
Admittedly, Europe or Hawaii might be a little difficult in that respect, but there are few absolutes in life...
 

Ryan

Conductor
Joined
Apr 14, 2008
Messages
17,017
If you pay the sub-$50 for Early Bird, you'll get a boarding position that guarantees you won't be in a middle seat.
 

drdumont

Service Attendant
AU Supporter
Joined
Apr 16, 2017
Messages
192
I thought they had something like that. As I implied, if Southwest is good for you, Mazel Tov!
Flying nowadays is too much of a hassle. The flying is OK. The airports and TSA aren't for me.
Like Goldilocks said, "AMTRAK is Juuuust right!" <g>
 
2
Top