Amtrak Changes CEOs As White House Re-Nominates Some (Not All) Board Members

Amtrak announced this week that President and Chief Executive Officer Richard Anderson is stepping down, at the end of his three-year commitment to the passenger railroad. He will be replaced by William Flynn.

“Bill is the right executive to lead us into the future,” said Amtrak Board Chairman Tony Coscia. “We’ve never been stronger as a company than we are today. We are modernizing the customer experience and delivering our service to more people. Bill has a consistent track record of growing and improving complex transportation businesses. We are confident he will build upon the strong foundation of record-setting growth and improvement set by the Board, Richard and the entire Amtrak team.”

Under Anderson’s tenure, Amtrak has made operating costs its top priority, to the point that the elimination of net operating losses, while not yet achieved, actually seems possible in the near future.

Like Anderson, Flynn comes to the railroad immediately after being the CEO of an air carrier (Anderson was Delta Air Lines, Flynn was Atlas Air, a cargo and charter airline). However, while Anderson was an airline lifer (he joined Continental in 1987 and then went to Northwest from 1990-2004, then pivoted to a health care job, before going with Delta in 2007), Flynn actually had a railroad background before moving to aviation.

Flynn worked at CSX and its Sea-Land subsidiary from 1997 to 2002, culminating in being CSX Senior Vice President for Strategic Planning. Per a bio he submitted to the House T&I Committee for a hearing several years ago: “Mr. Flynn had a 23- year career at Sea-Land Service, and as Senior Vice President of Asia he was responsible for the company’s business in Asia including liner shipping, marine terminal management, logistics and joint ventures in terminal development in Hong Kong and China. He led the development of key joint ventures in Tianjin and in Shanghai port operations. Mr. Flynn had several overseas assignments including Venezuela, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, Japan and Hong Kong.”

While Anderson served as Amtrak CEO as a public service (taking one dollar per year salary), the Wall Street Journal reported that Flynn will earn $475,000 per year.

Also, President Trump on March 2 re-nominated two of his proposed candidates for the Amtrak Board of Directors – Joseph Gruters and Lynn Westmoreland. Those nominees were originally made last year, and were approved by the Senate Commerce Committee, but a Senate rule forced them to be sent back to the White House at the expiration of the First Session of the 116th Congress at noon on January 3.

However, President Trump has not re-nominated his other two nominees for the Amtrak Board, Rick Dearborn and Todd Rokita. It is not at all clear if either man wants to be re-nominated, or if they somehow fell afoul of the ongoing loyalty tests being promulgated by the White House personnel office.

We have updated our list of Amtrak Board members accordingly. (By law, members of the Board can serve indefinitely after their fixed terms expire, until a successor is nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate.)

Current Members of the Amtrak Board of Directors
Member Tenure
Elaine Chao Ex officio as Secretary of Transportation
William Flynn Ex officio as Amtrak CEO (non-voting)
Christopher Beall Term expired Jan. 2018.
Yvonne Braithwaite Burke Term expired Jan. 2018.
Thomas C. Carper Term expired Aug. 2018.
Anthony Coscia Term expires Dec. 2020.
Albert DiClemente Nominee: Joseph Gruters
Jeffrey Moreland Term expired June 2015. Former nominee: Rick Dearborn
vacancy (was Derek Kan) Term expires Jan. 2021. Former nominee: Todd Rokita
vacancy Nominee: Lynn Westmoreland

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