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» RAILforum » Passenger Trains » Amtrak » "Wick" Moorman New Amtrak President/CEO

   
Author Topic: "Wick" Moorman New Amtrak President/CEO
DonNadeau
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http://www.cnbc.com/2016/08/19/amtrak-names-ex-norfolk-southern-ceo-wick-moorman-its-new-president-and-ceo.html

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Vincent206
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Interesting move. NS certainly had a good reputation as a freight railroad under Moorman but it never was really friendly with Amtrak. Let's see if that changes.

quote:
Moorman said that he plans to "develop a stronger safety and service culture throughout the company" at Amtrak.
I suppose any incoming CEO would make that statement but it's time for someone to shake things up a bit.
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Gilbert B Norman
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From Crowne Plaza Piitter Salzburg

Here is my Reader Comment I made to the Wall Street Journal regarding Mr. Moorman's appointment:

  • From Salzburg, AT--

    Mr. Moorman started his railroad career the same year I started mine. But my railroad went "belly up" and I left to become a CPA in private practice.

    I think that Mr. Moorman is making a bold move to take over Amtrak as "a dollar a year man". As other past CEO"s with solid railroad and mass transit credentials have found to be the case, to run the railroad (Amtrak is recognized as such) in an economic and efficient manner is not the alpha and omega, as the ultinate bosses, better known as Congress, often have objectives other than economy and efficiency.

    At this time, I am overseas and have had the honor to see how passenger rail can be an integral part of fulfilling transportation needs. Maybe some day, this can be the case in the US

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palmland
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I can't think of a better choice. Respected by his employees and management at NS, a strong appreciation for rail heritage, understands what good service can be like and, I suspect, will be able to work well with Congress.

But, it remains to be seen how well he can change the bureaucratic culture at Amtrak and deal with the strong labor unions. No doubt he will bring in some good talent to help. As the WSJ noted he took this as a transitional job. Let's hope he stays long enough to get a good management team for the future, deals effectively with the perpetual funding crises, and establishes a long term strategy for growth and service on the state funded corridor trains, the LD network, and NEC. Hopefully all those with great expectations will give him time to understand what a mess he's walking into and develop his plans to deal with it.

The next couple years at Amtrak will be fun to watch.

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Vincent206
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The Norfolk Southern website has a link to the company's position on passenger rail.

quote:
There’s no question that expanding passenger rail will bring significant challenges. Striking the right balance while growing both passenger and freight rail is key to ensuring that railroads keep America’s economic engine running.

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George Harris
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Although they were drawn into it kicking and screaming NS has gotten a good bit out of what has been spent on the North Carolina Railroad. Signaling and curve reductions between Greensboro and Raleigh may not mean that much to them, but I would suspect that they are more than happy about the restoration of the second main and elimination of grade crossings that is ongoing between Greensboro and Charlotte. But then this was not for the benefit of Amtrak either, although they have gotten some benefit out of it as well, but for the NC state supported trains.
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Gilbert B Norman
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I'm back.

If a billboard quite visible from I-80 West in New Jersey (apparently where 80 X's the ERIE) is indicative of NS corporate philosophy, then, as Topper proclaims to those passing by, "We move things....And People", there should be encouragement to the passenger train community.

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DonNadeau
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Mr. Norman,

I would love to hear your observations about the Milwaukee Road.

For example, some say that its Pacific route was actually viable, in spite of intense competition and a low density of potential traffic along much of it.

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notelvis
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I look forward to seeing what a Wick Moorman Amtrak will look like. Hopefully he'll have some new Viewliner sleepers and diners on the property before the next generation of Acela's start to come off the line.

The improvements to the right-of-way in North Carolina continue and are remarkable..... even saw some RJ Corman contractors working on the restored second track on the outskirts of Charlotte a couple of weeks ago.

And a note to George - North Carolina, as you most likely know, was in a unique position in terms of dragging Norfolk Southern into expanding passenger service because the state owns the railroad over which NS operates.

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palmland
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Trains' newswire posted a copy of Moorman's letter to employees today, his first day on the job. For those of you that have access to it, you can find it here.

He gave a recap of his NS employment record. Clearly he understands what it takes to run a railroad:

"Upon graduation from Tech, I joined Southern full-time as a management trainee in the Maintenance of Way department, where I was first put to work on a track gang to ensure that I knew the railroad from the ground up! It was a great way to start, and for the first 12 years of my career I worked in Southern and then Norfolk Southern’s Maintenance of Way department as a track supervisor and then as a division engineer.

Those years served as a wonderful foundation for my over four-decade career with Norfolk Southern. After a brief stint in business school, Norfolk Southern gave me the opportunity to work in transportation, human resources, labor relations, IT and strategic planning. These experiences helped me to understand what it truly takes to run a great railroad and prepared me to become Norfolk Southern’s CEO in 2005."

And his plan for the next 60 days:

"My immediate priority in the next 60 days as I transition into the new role is to spend time with the leadership team and to get out and see as many of you as I can, in order to get a better understanding of what we do, and how we do it. I also encourage all of you to let me know your thoughts on what we can do together to improve the company."

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palmland
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Raifan reports have been circulating that Moorman rode the Crescent. Apparently this is factual as Trains.com reported here.

Here are some excerpts:

"Moorman and Manion, who were dressed business casual (blazers and slacks with no ties) talked to each other for nearly half an hour, with no special attention paid to them by the crew. Eventually, they introduced themselves to the Lead Service Attendant and engaged him and the server in conversation for about 10 to 15 minutes. They talked about how long their shifts were, how many trips they make weekly, about the menu, the storage and variety of food, and more. The two executives were listening and curious, according to my source.

Moorman and Manion then stopped the assistant conductor on her way through the diner, asking how long she had been working the route, about how the signals got called, how she divides responsibilities with the conductor, etc. The executives then proceeded to the lounge car, where the LSA showed them the inventory paperwork and described how it is done. Moorman commented that much of what is done by hand could be done with an iPad or similar device.

One crew member then matter-of-factly shared with the higher-ups his assessment that the food on the City of New Orleans is nearly inedible, and that the crew doesn’t like having to serve such a bad product. The crew member suggested that all trains should have more fresh food and should be tailored to the regions they serve, with regional specialties. The execs also asked how many coach passengers were eating in the diner."

The article says that the individual with Moorman is Mark Manion, former VP of Operations for NS. Does that tell you something?

A reader comment adds that "Mark Manion headed up the culture change initiative on NS - particularly on the operating side of things. The centerpiece of it was that positive reinforcement is the only way to get results beyond those from "command and control". And, perhaps of interest to historians, apparently Manion's dad was VP Ops on MP under Jenks.

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palmland
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Moorman just appeared on CBS This Morning. Very brief interview but good to see him beginning to surface in public. Only had a few predictable questions: The new trainsets for NEC, PTC. Infrastructure investment, and security. No surprises and no mention of LD network.
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palmland
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Moorman spoke at a conference and had some comments about work at Amtrak, as reported on Trains' newswire today.

A few excerpts:

"Replacing the railroad’s worn fleet of P42 locomotives can be done relatively quickly. But there’s no quick solution to replacing Amfleet I and II equipment, which needs a funding source and a new design. “We want to nail down what the cars should look like first,” Moorman says.

The replacement for Acela Express train sets, announced in August, will be a game-changer for high-speed rail in the Northeast Corridor when delivery begins in 2021. “It’s going to be a better product in every way,” Moorman says.

Long-distance trains are the system’s “political glue” and are essential for underserved areas of the country, Moorman says.

The railroad understands the growth opportunity of its regional trains as well as state-supported services in shorter corridors, Moorman says. They are particularly attractive compared to the hassle of flying and dealing with airport security. “Amtrak’s bag fees are very low,” Moorman quipped. “And, you’ll hear this in our marketing, there’s no middle seat.”

Adding new regional service will require cooperation from Class I host railroads. Moorman aims to improve the partnership and dialogue between Amtrak and each of the Class I systems. Moorman wants, for example, NS chief dispatchers to know Amtrak operating officials so that they can solve problems together."

What a novel concept, having the dispatchers talk to Amtrak's front line operating officers. Another good sign: "Moorman has brought in a few fellow NS retirees, including former Chief Operating Officer Mark Manion, to help him make the company more efficient."

The bad news - Moorman made it clear his tenure will be short. He's there to right the ship and pick a long term successor.

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PullmanCo
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How many years have I said it...

218+51+1

quote:
Long-distance trains are the system’s “political glue” and are essential for underserved areas of the country, Moorman says.

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Gilbert B Norman
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That has to be the most tacit acknowledgement by an Amtrak official ever printed regarding what the LD's are all about.

However, while I recognize there is some merit to the "underserved" line, say it too often and someone in North Platte will start saying "there's a train in McCook, why haven't we one here?"

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palmland
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Here is an article from Progressive Railroading about Moorman. No surprises but reveals a little more about his path to Amtrak and his priorities there.
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palmland
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Amtrak president, Wick Moorman, announced comprehensive organizational changes this week. As he said, this is not a 'silver bullet' but just a first step. I can't imagine how Boardman accomplished anything with 12 direct reports. I believe most organizational gurus say the maximize number is 7 for effective management.

It also sounds like marketing is now beefed up and includes activities that were in operations. It also appears that operations is now just focused on making the railroad run.

Railway Age

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Gilbert B Norman
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Also reported in that article is that Amtrak will be "relocating" the HQ from Union Station to "elsewhere".

According to Wiki, Washington Union Station is owned by the non-profit Union Station Redevelopment Corporation, but an 84-year lease of the property is held by New York-based Ashkenazy Acquisition Corporation and managed by Chicago-based Jones Lang LaSalle. The physical plant is owned by Washington Terminal Company, which is 99.99% owned by Amtrak (some minority interest is playing "stick in the mud").

Amtrak owns outright the Chicago Union Station Company, and their building has six floors of vacant office space. While there are plans to redevelop CUS with a 25 story atop the so-called Great Hall (it was built with caissons that can support such a structure; as that what was planned during 1920 until "politics got in the way"), those seem to be going slow at present. So who knows, maybe Amtrak HQ could come out here - and maybe get Washington out of their hair (well, a little bit).

Now so far as the organizational shake up goes, there's a new Sheriff in town writing a new script for the "Who's On First" skit.

Finally, lest we forget WGC once proposed such a move to Chicago. Now maybe the second "real railroader" to take the throttle will follow through.

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palmland
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Mr. Moorman is a busy man these days. This is a link to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Sub Committee hearing with Mr. Moorman as a guest.

The subject is Rail Subcommittee Hearing to Focus on Intercity Passenger Rail Service

This would be interesting to hear. Hope someone can find a transcript. I think it's safe to say Amtrak's president is earning his exorbitant salary.

Leaving for the lands of good rail service on Sunday (well, maybe not so much the part in Greece). Hopefully our trip won't make the news hour on TV.

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