Posts Tagged ‘Charles “Wick” Moorman’

Moorman Calls for Passenger Rail Investments

February 16, 2017

Amtrak President Charles “Wick” Moorman told a Senate committee this week that the United States needs a new era of infrastructure investment in order to ensure a healthy future for long-distance passenger rail travel.

Wick Moorman

Wick Moorman

Speaking to the Senate Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security, Moorman said, “The time is now to invest in our aging assets.

“More than ever, our nation and the traveling public rely on Amtrak for mobility, but the future of Amtrak depends on whether we can renew the cars, locomotives, bridges, tunnels, stations and other infrastructure that allows us to meet these growing.”

Noting that Amtrak posted a record ridership of more than 31 million passengers and ticket revenues of $2.2 billion in 2016, Moorman said. “I’m certain that we can get even better by relentlessly improving our safety culture, modernizing and upgrading our products and strengthening our operational efficiency and project delivery.”

Moorman called for additional support from Congress and the Trump Administration to upgrade aging assets in order to continue to provide reliable services and network operations.

Among the improvements that Moorman cited as urgently needed are construction of tunnels and bridges on the Northeast Corridor; expansion of stations in Chicago and Washington; construction of a fleet of new or rebuilt diesel locomotives; and construction of track, signaling, and other improvements to remove choke points on host railroads or restore service in key underserved markets, such as along the Gulf Coast.

Moorman said Amtrak is focusing on identifying ways to improve collaboration with the 21 states and various commuter agencies that it partners with to provide service on corridors across the country. He urged the federal government to explore different ways to support intercity passenger rail service.

This could include direct investments, public-private partnerships and innovative financing, streamlining of the environmental review process, and less bureaucratic red tape.

“Investments in these sectors can help spur the rebirth of America’s passenger rail manufacturing and supply sector,” Moorman said.

Amtrak Appoints New Financial Vice President

February 2, 2017

William N. Feidt has been named Amtrak’s executive vice president and chief financial officer.

Amtrak logoThe appointment is effective Feb. 6. Feidt, who most recently was vice president of financial operations at Cable & Wireless Communications in Miami, will report to Amtrak President Charles “Wick” Moorman.

Feidt will be be responsible for the company’s finance, treasury, accounting and control functions.

“Bill is an experienced and operationally-oriented financial executive with a strong technology background,” Moorman said in a statement. “He will be joining Amtrak’s executive team as we look to continue to improve our finance capabilities and lay the foundation for continued growth.”

Feidt will replace Gerald Sokol, who will leave the company after helping to transition Feidt into his new position.

Amtrak CEO Moorman Talks About His Vision For the Future of the U.S. Rail Passenger Carrier

January 30, 2017

Since taking over last fall as the CEO of Amtrak, Charles “Wick” Moorman has given hints here and there about his vision of America’s national intercity rail passenger carrier.

Wick Moorman

Wick Moorman

Columnists and editors of Trains magazine sat down with Moorman in December to discuss that vision.

Columnist Don Phillips was there and wrote about it for the March issue of the magazine that will be in subscriber mailboxes soon.

Phillips recently sent advance copies of his columns to those on an email list that he maintains. Presumably, there will be another report in the March issue written by the magazine’s passenger rail correspondent.

Moorman told the Trains representatives that he sees a future for long-distance passenger trains, but it is less clear if he sees any expansion of them.

He does see potential growth in medium-distance service, which is paid for by the states.

The proposed restoration of service along the Gulf Coast east of New Orleans has been gaining political support and may end up becoming an extension of the Chicago-New Orleans City of New Orleans.

But that hinges upon the federal government making a financial commitment to the service.

Moorman said during the interview that the new Viewliner equipment for eastern long-distance trains that is being built by CAF USA will be finished according to a new production schedule that the company and Amtrak have agreed upon.

Other items of interest include Moorman’s view that something needs to be done about the quality of food service aboard Amtrak trains, and the aging diesel locomotives and passenger cars used by trains outside the Northeast Corridor.

In regards to food service, Moorman said the pressure that has come from Congress in recent years to cut the cost of food service is lessening and what Amtrak needs to do is sell more food.

Another high priority on Moorman’s list is the institution of a training program for on-board employees, including conductors.

But the top priority on Moorman’s list is rebuilding infrastructure in the Northeast Corridor. That includes replacing bridges, tunnels and catenary, as well as building a replacement for New York Penn Station.

The takeaway from the Phillips column: Look for a better on-board experience but with little to no expansion of the existing routes and levels of train frequency.

Amtrak Reorganizes Management Structure

January 6, 2017

Amtrak President Charles “Wick” Moorman announced this week a management structure change that will restructure the management team into six units that will report to him. They include:

  • Operations: Scot Naparstek, chief operating officer
  • Marketing and Business Development: Jason Molfetas, executive vice president
  • Finance: Jerry Sokol, chief financial officer
  • Law: Eldie Acheson, general counsel and corporate secretary
  • Administration:  D.J. Stadtler, chief administrative officer
  • Planning, Technology and Public Affairs: Stephen Gardner, executive vice president

Amtrak logoTrain operations will be managed regionally through three general managers and supported by mechanical, engineering, network support, police, and security organizations.

The marketing and business development group will be expanded beyond its traditional role to include product development, planning, and contract management functions of the current business lines.

A new administration group will manage administrative and support functions including human resources, labor relations, procurement, and enterprise project management.

Certain corporate planning, information technology, and station and facility functions, as well as the government affairs and corporate communications division, will be transferred to the new planning, technology, and public affairs group.

Amtrak’s Mooorman Favors Negotiations With Railrods Rather than Using Government Force

December 22, 2016

Amtrak President Charles “Wick” Moorman prefers negotiations with its contract railroads rather than government regulation or court action when it comes to improving the passenger carrier’s on-time issues.

Amtrak logoMoorman said during an interview with Politico that on-time performance is a sensitive subject, but he thinks the freight railroads are amendable to talking about how to improve Amtrak’s performance.

Moorman said he knows that delays caused by freight trains are hindering Amtrak’s long-distance trains, but he also believes the railroads are putting forth their best effort to give passenger trains good on-time performance.

In recent years, the on-time performance of passenger trains has been the subject of a U.S. Surface Transportation board rule-making proceeding and Amtrak has filed complaints with the STB about the dispatching practices of certain railroads, notably Canadian National.

The STB has said it will examine on a case-by-case basis situations in which a freight railroad is to blame if Amtrak is unable to meet an 80 percent on-time performance goal.

The STB also will implement new formulas for calculating on-time performance.

Moorman Looks to the Future at Amtrak

December 13, 2016

Amtrak President Charles “Wick” Moorman has said little in public about his vision for Amtrak since replacing former Amtrak President Joesph Boardman last September.

But Moorman and Amtrak Chairman Anthony Coscia gave a glimpse of the future in an interview with Progressive Railroading.

Amtrak logoCoscia said Amtrak plans to emphasize convincing stakeholders that the passenger carrier serves its passengers well despite having limited resources.

“This is not about being profitable, it’s about being well run,” Coscia said. “It’s about using our resources wisely, and looking for creative and intelligent ways to run the company . . .”

For his part, Moorman told the magazine,  “What we need to do at Amtrak is make sure that we are running an efficient company that provides a great product to the 30-plus million people who use our services every year. If we do that, I think we should be able to answer effectively to anyone on Capitol Hill — or anyone else — who has criticisms about us.”

Moorman said he wants to focus on building a stronger safety culture and then begin working on improving customer service.

He said Amtrak is, “not at the place that the class I carriers are in terms of a safety record and safety culture.”

Customer service may also need some attention. “One of the things we’re going to pay a lot of attention to going forward is the customer experience,” Moorman said. “We’ll balance the customer service needs with our ability to be more efficient and effective, particularly in those areas that don’t directly affect the customer.”

Moorman is activity seeking to recruit new members to his management team, including retired NS executives.

Already, Moorman has discussed with those executives the areas where Amtrak needs improvements.

One former NS manager, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Mark Manion, has agreed to work with Amtrak.

Moorman also plans to work to improve Amtrak’s relationships with its contract railroads.

Those became strained during a Surface Transportation Board proceeding pertaining to on-time performance standards and regulatory authority.

“The relationships with the class Is are not terrible by any means. I think we can work through a lot of the issues around things like on-time performance,” Moorman said.

“We need to make sure the class Is see us an ally in creating a positive public image; in working on issues that are important to both of us on Capitol Hill; and as a card-carrying member of the railroad industry,” he said.

Moorman will be getting a first-hand look at Amtrak’s service because he rides the Crescent between his home in Charlottesville, Virginia, and his office in Washington.

Although he did not offer any concrete plans for service expansion, Moorman said there are opportunities for expansion, primarily on the state routes.

“I think there will be a ton of opportunity to continue to come our way as the years go by, and we at Amtrak need to be a company that understands that, is prepared for it, and operates that service effectively with our state partners,” he said.

Moorman Likens Amtrak to an Old House That Just Needs Improvement, Not Reconstruction

November 22, 2016

Although he has been in office less than three months, Amtrak President Charles “Wick” Moorman doesn’t expect to be around for a long time.

Wick Moorman

Wick Moorman

“My wife has told me that,” Moorman said at the Rail Trends 2016 Conference last week.

In his speech, Moorman said he is attempting to make Amtrak highly efficient, develop a stronger safety culture, and find the right person to lead the passenger carrier over the long term.

He also is seeking to build relationships with Amtrak’s host railroads.

He cited as an example his desire for Norfolk Southern chief dispatchers to get to know Amtrak operating officials so that they can solve problems together.

Moorman said that developing better relationships with its contract railroads is critical to being able to expand regional services.

He sees growth opportunities for regional trains and state-supported services in shorter corridors because they are attractive transportation alternative when compared to the hassle of flying and dealing with airport security.

“Amtrak’s bag fees are very low,” Moorman said. “And, you’ll hear this in our marketing, ‘there’s no middle seat.’ ”

Moorman described the long-distance trains as the “political glue” that holds Amtrak together and which play an essential role in providing transportation to underserved regions of the United States.

The Amtrak president said that although replacing Amtrak’s tired fleet of P42DC locomotives could be done relatively quickly, there is no fast solution to replacing Amfleet I and II equipment

That will require a source of funding as well as a new design. “We want to nail down what the cars should look like first,” Moorman said.

In the meantime, Amtrak has announced the replacement equipment that will be built to replace the Acela Express train sets with Moorman calling that a game-changer for high-speed rail in the Northeast Corridor.

“It’s going to be a better product in every way,” Moorman said about the equipment that will be delivered starting in 2021.

Moorman sees Amtrak as having similar characteristic as an old house. It needs some attention, but not radical reconstruction.

“Amtrak’s not broken. There are things to be fixed,” Moorman said. “Think of me as the plumber.”

Moorman retired as head of Norfolk Southern in 2015 and initially spurned Amtrak’s overtures to replace Joseph Boardman as president.

He changed his mind after the Amtrak board of directors persisted in seeking him.

“I am not doing this for the money,” Moorman said. “I am doing this because the future of Amtrak is important to this country.”

He has brought on board some fellow retired NS executives, including Chief Operating Officer Mark Manion

Moorman said it will be easier to get legislators and others to support Amtrak if they can see that is is efficient and well-managed.

He said increasing efficiency means reducing operating losses while providing better service.

Although he sees Amtrak as safe and getting safer, Moorman said there is still work to be done to create a stronger safety culture.

Moorman’s Letter to Amtrak Employees

September 2, 2016

Charles “Wick” Moorman became president of Amtrak on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016. He wrote the following letter to Amtrak employees. Make of it what you will.

Wick Moorman

Wick Moorman

My name is Wick Moorman and it is a pleasure and a privilege for me to be joining you as your new CEO.

I want to start my time at Amtrak by saying how honored I am to follow Joe Boardman. I’ve known Joe for many years, and his work at Amtrak and FRA has left us a strong and useful legacy to build on. During his eight years in leading the company, Amtrak delivered record ridership and revenue levels, while making critical investments in our assets and our people to prepare for future growth. That success is a testament to the strength of the entire Amtrak team, and to Joe’s commitment to leaving Amtrak stronger than when he arrived. That’s what I hope to accomplish myself as your new CEO, as we work together to make Amtrak a safer, more efficient, and modern company, that’s growing our business and delivering increasing value to our customers and the nation.

Let me tell you a little bit about myself, and why I have chosen to come to Amtrak.

The first thing you should know about me is that I am a life-long railroader, and from childhood I have been fascinated by the technology and romance of our business. After high school, I studied civil engineering at Georgia Tech and was fortunate enough to obtain an engineering co-op position with the Southern Railway, one of Norfolk Southern’s predecessors. 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. Over the next 10 years, our company went through a period of significant change. Together, we continued to improve our safety culture. We introduced new technology and found new ways to become more efficient. And we completed several rail corridor projects that would help us grow our service capabilities and revenue levels for a long time to come.

I retired quite happily last year, with no intentions of working full-time again, but then was approached about the possibility of leading Amtrak. I started my career in the summer of 1970, not long before Amtrak started to operate. It is not an exaggeration to say I have followed Amtrak since Day One – and while my background is in freight, I have a deep appreciation for passenger rail and have ridden passenger trains all my life. Amtrak provides a great and necessary public service. It keeps people moving and businesses strong in the Northeast Corridor, and it provides connectivity and mobility to 46 of the 48 contiguous states throughout our National Network. Furthermore, as our country’s transportation needs continue to change and grow, there is more and more public interest in passenger rail service everywhere. Together, we can continue to transform Amtrak. We can expand and grow our company in ways that will help us meet these new demands, and make Amtrak the leading rail passenger carrier worldwide.

As I have talked to people over the years about my life and career, I have always stressed how extraordinarily fortunate and blessed I have been! The opportunity to become CEO of Amtrak is another chapter in that story of great good fortune, and I am excited to be starting today.

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.

I will be communicating more with you as we close out fiscal year 2016 and kick-off fiscal year 2017. For now, thanks for everything you’re doing to keep Amtrak rolling, and I look forward to seeing you somewhere out on the railroad.

Sincerely,
Wick Moorman

Moorman to be Next Amtrak President

August 19, 2016

Former Norfolk Southern head Charles W. “Wick” Moorman has agreed to become president of Amtrak effective Sept. 1.

Moorman, who retired as president and CEO of NS in 2015, will replace Joseph Boardman.

Amtrak logoIn announcing Moorman’s appointment, Amtrak said he had agreed to take a $1 yearly salary but will be eligible for a $500,000 annual bonus if meets specified performance goals.

Moorman would be the third Amtrak head to take over after serving as president of a Class I railroad.

Graham Claytor Jr. served as Amtrak president from 1982 to 1993 after having previously been president of the Southern Railway.

Alan Boyd was president of Amtrak between 1978 and 1982 and had been president of the Illinois Central Railroad.

“I view this as public service,” Moorman told Railway Age Editor-in-Chief William C. Vantuono. “Amtrak is important to the freight rail carriers, and to the country. This is something I really want to do, and I believe I can contribute to making Amtrak a better railroad. I’m sure the work will be interesting, and I hope it will be fun as well.”

Moorman said he did not take the job for the money or because he had been unhappy in retirement.

In a news release, Moorman said he agreed to take the position because, “it is an honor and privilege to take on the role of CEO at Amtrak, and I look forward to working with its dedicated employees to find ways to provide even better service to our passengers and the nation. At Norfolk Southern, our team fostered change by placing a solid emphasis on performance across all aspects of our business, which helped develop a stronger safety and service culture throughout the company. I look forward to advancing those same goals at Amtrak and helping to build a plan for future growth.”

Moorman has more than 40 years in the railroad industry with NS and the Southern.

He began his railroad career working on a track gang during college and became a management trainee after graduation.

Moorman is a graduate of Georgia Tech University and the Harvard Business School.

He serves on the boards of Duke Energy Corporation, Chevron Corporation, the Virginia chapter of the Nature Conservancy, and the Georgia Tech Foundation.

He had held the post of NS executive chairman until late 2015.

“Wick Moorman is a proven railroader whose track record of success demonstrates his commitment and adherence to rail safety, efficiency and service to customers,” said Association of American Railroads President and CEO Ed Hamberger in a statement. “His contributions and leadership in the freight rail industry, I believe, will advance the working partnership the freight railroads have with Amtrak. The AAR and its freight rail members recognize the importance of Amtrak as a reliable U.S. passenger rail service and look forward to working with Wick in his new capacity.”

Amtrak Board Chairman Anthony Coscia said in a statement, “We are very pleased that someone with Wick’s experience and vision will lead Amtrak during this critical period as the company charts a course for future growth and improvement.”

Coscia expressed optimism that Moorman would improve Amtrak’s relationship with its host freight railroads.

“He clearly understands both worlds, and he’s going to be in a position to try to get us all to a much better place,” Coscia said.

CP Issues White Paper Making the Case for ‘Precision Railroading’ at Norfolk Southern

April 9, 2016

Canadian Pacific has given Norfolk Southern stockholders a reading assignment in advance of the NS annual meeting on May 12.

In a white paper, CP seeks to make the case for how its “precision railroad philosophy” would improve NS operations by transforming it from an “industry laggard to leader.”

“Politicians, shippers and others are calling for a strong, healthy and high-performing rail system yet no one has the stomach to challenge the status quo,” said CP CEO E. Hunter Harrison in the paper. “Clearly, moving goods reliably and efficiently is top of mind for everyone in the industry; we believe precision railroading and a CP-NS combination address those challenges.”

Canadian PacificThe white paper, which was part of a series that CP has issued over the past few months to make the case for its proposed takeover of NS, said that precision railroading has enabled CP to reduce its operating ratio, improve service, reinvest record amounts of dollars in its network and create “significant shareholder value.”

A PDF version of CP’s latest white paper can be downloaded at http://www.cpconsolidation.com.

CP described precision railroading as a tried and tested approach that has already transformed two of the worst-performing Class I railroads into top performers.

The latter was a reference to CP and Canadian National, where Harrison was CEO for several year. Harrison also applied his precision railroading approach at the Illinois Central when he headed that railroad before moving to CN.

“Over the last 20-plus years, Mr. Harrison’s execution of precision railroading has transformed three Class I railroads into the best-run railroads in the world,” CP’s white paper said. “The likelihood is high that, under his leadership and guidance, NS can achieve similar success and perform far better than its management currently believes possible.”

The white paper noted that the previous management of CP had claimed during a 2012 proxy fight with Harrison and financier Bill Ackman of Pershing Square Capital Management that precision railroading would not work at CP.

“But precision railroading is a set of non-discriminating principles that can be effectively applied to any railroad in the world,” the white paper asserts. “Geographic, network, and business mix differences are irrelevant in the application of the underlying principles that guide day-to-day decisions.”

Harrison has stated that his operating philosophy has five foundations of improving customer service, controlling costs, optimizing asset utilization, operating safely, and valuing and developing employees. “These five foundations can be applied to any railroad with the same result,” the paper said.

The white paper said that after implementing precision railroading practices, CP was able to slash transit times, increase system velocity and reduce terminal dwell times.

By increasing efficiency, CP cut its locomotive fleet size by 40 percent and saw its operating ratio fall from 81 percent to 61 percent.

“The prevailing view in the rail industry is that more locomotives, more cars and more crews allow for the movement of more volume,” CP said. “Precision railroading challenges this view.

“Because track and yard capacity is finite, adding more equipment creates congestion and slows down the system. While it may sound counterintuitive, reducing fleet size actually enables a railroad to move more volume. By running fewer and heavier trains, faster and on schedule, assets can be utilized far more productively and can yield significant savings.”

As an example of how precision railroading has worked, CP said it has increased domestic intermodal traffic by 19 percent between 2012 and 2015.

CP claims it could achieve $1.2 billion annual savings at NS by shifting it to the precision railroading model.

Among other things, Harrison has suggested that NS would be able to mothball up to a third of its locomotive fleet.

NS CEO James Squires, though, has described precision railroading as a “short-term focused operating model” that would result in service deterioration, diversion of traffic to trucks, and a loss of service-sensitive customers.

Squires said that the CP approach would mean unacceptably deep reductions in capital spending and employment levels.

NS has begun to implement its own five-year strategic plan to gain $650 million in annual savings by 2020 by reducing expenditures, seeking new traffic and increasing profitability.

CP interests are sponsoring a resolution to be voted on by NS shareholders that would direct NS management to discuss a merger with CP.

The resolution is non-binding and the NS board of directions is opposing it. The NS board also has rejected three offers from CP to buy NS stock.

Trains magazine interviewed a former CP executive who said that Harrison deserved some, but not all of the credit for improvements since he took over after the 2012 proxy fight.

The executive, who Trains did not name, said that under CEO Fred Green, CP had begun making progress by cutting $80 million from equipment rental payments, saving $150 million for the pension plan, closed intermodal terminals, reduced fuel consumption and begun operating longer trains with the use of distributed motive power.

“We were a lot further along the curve than people realize,” the former executive said.

The executive, though, did give Harrison and his team credit for being more aggressive through such moves as shutting down humps in several yards.

“Hunter’s a good railroader. He gets it,” the former executive said. “He drives the assets.”

The former CP executive operational efficiency and cost-cutting were not the sole drivers of CP’s rebound.

“Fundamentally the franchise needed top-line growth,” the former executive said. “CP needed to flex its muscles in terms of pricing. It’s done that well.”

Even before Harrison had arrived, CP management has discussed whether it was being aggressive enough with above-inflation pricing.

After Harrison arrived, CP’s total revenue increased by 18 percent between 2012 and 2015 although its total carloadings fell by 1.5 percent.

During that same period, CN saw its total revenue rise by 27 percent and its traffic grow by 8 percent. Last year CN led North American Class 1 railroads with the lowest operating ratio at 58.2 percent.

Whether the success of CN and CP in using precision railroading would translate well at a U.S.-based Class 1 remains an open question.

Trains magazine quoted railroad analyst Anthony Hatch as saying that it is not possible to draw conclusions about the growth rates of CP and CN due to their different traffic mixes, particularly their bulk and carload business.

“But you can say that CN has done a terrific job leveraging the precision railroading legacy of EHH into the New Model Railroad — one that combines efficiency, productivity, and marketing to grow faster than the rails as a whole, transports as a whole, and the continental economy,” Hatch said.

A former NS executive, though, is not enthusiastic about precision railroading as it might apply to NS.

In an interview with Trains, former NS CEO Charles “Wick” Moorman called precision railroading a recipe for disaster.

“If Hunter puts out an order to park 700 locomotives, I don’t even give it a week,” Moorman said. “The service would collapse. It’s just that easy.”