Posts Tagged ‘Wick Moorman’

Moorman Upbeat on Passenger Rail Future

July 18, 2017

Amtrak President Charles “Wick” Moorman gave an upbeat assessment of the future of passenger rail even as he acknowledged that the passenger carrier faces challenges fixing decaying infrastructure in the Northeast Corridor.

Speaking to the National Press Club in Washington, Moorman said Amtrak’s need for federal funding was no excuse for not operating “like a great company.”

Moorman

Nonetheless, Moorman said that getting pressure from government officials and tight budgetary resources have taken their toll.

He said that in the 1990s and 2000s Amtrak lost sight of its customers as a result. As an example he cited carpet cleaning.

Amtrak saved $1 million by not shampooing the carpets in its passenger cars as often, but passengers noticed the dirty carpets.

“That’s not the experience we want to create for our customers,” he said.
Providing a better customer experience has been one of four focuses that Moorman has brought to Amtrak after becoming its president last year.

“The customer experience is ticketing, the station, our employee interactions, and our equipment,” he said.

The equipment used by Amtrak is, in Moorman’s words, starting to look “stale,” but the carrier has taken steps to improve it. “It’s old, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be good,” he said.

Moorman said rail passenger transportation in general is not a particularly good business model.

The creators of Amtrak chartered it as a for-profit corporation even though they knew it was not a good business model.

However, Moorman said, they sold it to President Richard Nixon and the Congress at the time as a concept of “create this and [it] will become profitable.”

In essence, Moorman said Amtrak is a government contractor that unlike other contractors can’t always present to government officials a bill that factors in the costs of doing business plus a profit to benefit shareholders.

“We rely on what are in effect user fees – passenger fares,” he said. “And because the marketplace doesn’t sustain the passenger fares we need to make that profit, we ask the government to make up the difference.”

Among Amtrak’s many challenges Moorman said the one that worries him the most is the aging Northeast Corridor infrastructure.

He said the NEC has eight major bridges and only one is younger than 100 years old. The B&P Tunnel in Baltimore is 127 years old and well past its “sell-by date.”

Moorman expressed confidence that the idea of having a national rail passenger network is taking hold and predicted the development of more corridors offering rail passenger service between urban areas.

He also circled back to the need to provide good customer service.

“For 46 years, a lot of people [at Amtrak] were there trying to keep the flame alive, understanding that someday the world would come to the point where people started to say, ‘We really need to have passenger rail as an option.’ I think that day has come,” Moorman said.

“The better we run Amtrak, the better we deliver on projects, the more people understand how good our company is, the easier every funding conversation is,” he said.

In a related note, Moorman said disruptions at New York’s Penn Station may extend into the fall.

He told the New York Post that Amtrak has the ability to finish the remaining work at Penn Station with subsequent weekend outages extending beyond the planned July to early September work curfew.

“We’ve done an exceptional and extraordinary amount of planning on the material side and we know it all fits, and we have a lot of skilled people,” he said.

After those repairs are concluded, Moorman said Amtrak will need to to schedule signal and power system repairs at a later date.

Advertisements

Amtrak Makes Forbes Best Employers List

May 11, 2017

Forbes magazine has named Amtrak a top U.S. employer, the third consecutive year that the carrier has made the list.

Amtrak was listed under the transportation and logistics category. The honor was based on Forbes’ independent survey of 30,000 workers throughout the United States to see which companies were the best.

Amtrak is a great company because of the people who continuously keep our customers safe and make the railroad the smarter way to travel,” said Amtrak President and CEO Charles “Wick” Moorman in a statement. “We want employees to find a safe workplace, challenging work, and receive the reward of competitive pay and benefits in a performance-oriented culture.”

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 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.