Alan Boyd Dies, Was Amtrak’s 3rd President, 1st U.S. Secretary of Transportation

Alan Boyd, 98, a former president of the Illinois Central Railroad and Amtrak and who was the first U.S. Secretary of Transportation, died on Sunday in Seattle.

Alan Boyd

He served as head of the IC between 1969 and 1972 and headed Amtrak between April 1978 and June 1982. He was the third president of the intercity rail passenger carrier.

During his time at Amtrak, the passenger carrier underwent a series of route and service reductions including a major route restructuring in 1979 that ended five long-distance trains.

More train and route cuts came in the early 1980s, including the temporary discontinuance of the Cardinal and permanent cancellation of the Shenandoah, among other trains. during a period that has some parallels with what is happening with Amtrak today.

However, during Boyd’s term as Amtrak’s third president the carrier transitioned from steam-heated equipment inherited from the freight railroads and replaced it with head-end powered Amfleet and Superliner equipment.

Shortly after leaving Amtrak, Boyd said in an interview with The Washington Post that public funding of the passenger carrier was a reality that was unlikely to change.

“I don’t see any particular reason why rail passenger service should operate without public support,” he said at the time.

“We have any number of programs in this country which deal with the redistribution of wealth in the public interest. Subsidy represents a judgment by the government that the expenditure of this money is in the public interest.”

Boyd was an undersecretary of commerce for transportation during the Lyndon Johnson administration and led a group that wrote the bill creating the U.S. Department of Transportation.

He was the first secretary of transportation but stepped down when Richard Nixon became president in 1969.

Boyd was born in Jacksonville, Florida, and served as a C-47 pilot in World War II.

He earned a law degree and also served as chairman of the Civil Aeronautics Board.

Until retirement, he was North American president of European aircraft manufacturer Airbus.

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