Amtrak: Connect the dots

Posted by Fred Frailey
on Friday, July 22, 2016

Any time now, Amtrak’s directors will elect a new president and chief executive, to replace Joe Boardman, who is retiring. I’ve talked to people who have been approached by the executive recruiting firm looking for this person. The recruiter is telling people Amtrak wants an experienced railroad manager in the top job. I’ve also blogged my ideas of some good prospects: Ron Batory (Conrail Shared Assets), Wick Moorman (Norfolk Southern), Matt Rose (BNSF), and John Fenton (Patriot Rail and before that Metrolink). Of these four, Batory and Moorman have said no, Matt Rose is probably not interested either, and only Fenton has indicated a willingness to consider it.

Meanwhile, my fellow columnist Don Phillips in a recent issue of Trains said the hot money is on Richard Phelps, Amtrak’s former VP-transportation, and Al Engel, its former VP-high speed rail. I know them both, they’re good men, but I have no special sense that they’ll get the job, either.

Now there’s a new name to consider. Follow along as I connect the dots. Which railroad is most supportive of Amtrak? I would say BNSF Railway. Which railroad used its muscle to get its retired VP-law on the Amtrak board, now for two terms? BNSF, and that would be Jeff Moreland, now vice chairman of the board and a member of its search committee. Okay, which BNSF executive has announced his retirement as of the end of August, although only in his 50s? That would be Greg Fox, the railroad’s well regarded executive vice president of operations. Does Fox plan to play solitaire the rest of his life? I doubt it.

The dots all connect, don’t you agree?—Fred W. Frailey

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