Anderson possible changes: Dismantling LD, Corridor, Etc.

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Anderson possible changes: Dismantling LD, Corridor, Etc.

Postby Tadman » Fri Feb 16, 2018 12:00 pm

How do you think Richard H Anderson has done as leader of Amtrak for six months?

I think he downright sucks. F-minus.

At Delta, everything happens on procedure. Boarding, cabin announcements, food service. MAINTENANCE. Little is left up to on-site judgment. After six months at Amtrak, the above functions still appear to be seat-of-pants. Why is it the flight attendants read a script while the conductor or lounge car attendant babble away on the PA? There has been six months to remedy this and all it takes is a few rides to notice the problem, and a memo to all VP's directing them that within 90 days, all common tasks shall be performed according to written plan. And you know why this is so good for crews? Because if something goes wrong, now they're doing it just how management told them to. This protects both passengers and crew.

With regard to PR, it's awful. Amtrak has been in a number of high profile accidents, some their fault, some not. For God's sake, man, get out in front of this stuff and make it clear that the truck driver fouled the crosssing, it was his fault, its a serious national problem, etc... and we lose 250 people every year in these accidents. But we have seen little PR effort. We have not seen any message that the train is 17x safer than the automobile (Northwestern University numbers).

WIth regard to PTC, it appears Anderson has decided Amtrak will suspend any trains not on PTC by end of the year. This may be the single stupidest thing I have ever heard. At this point, let's just all stay home and maybe even throw out our scissors, steak knives, and turn off the hot water. Maybe we should all wear clothing with elastic and Velcro so we don't hurt ourselves on buttons and zippers.

I had high hopes but this has been a big goose egg. I'm curious who was behind Delta's success because I love Delta.
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Re: Anderson Six Month Grade

Postby Ridgefielder » Fri Feb 16, 2018 12:51 pm

Tadman wrote:How do you think Richard H Anderson has done as leader of Amtrak for six months?

I think he downright sucks. F-minus.

At Delta, everything happens on procedure. Boarding, cabin announcements, food service. MAINTENANCE. Little is left up to on-site judgment. After six months at Amtrak, the above functions still appear to be seat-of-pants. Why is it the flight attendants read a script while the conductor or lounge car attendant babble away on the PA? There has been six months to remedy this and all it takes is a few rides to notice the problem, and a memo to all VP's directing them that within 90 days, all common tasks shall be performed according to written plan. And you know why this is so good for crews? Because if something goes wrong, now they're doing it just how management told them to. This protects both passengers and crew.

With regard to PR, it's awful. Amtrak has been in a number of high profile accidents, some their fault, some not. For God's sake, man, get out in front of this stuff and make it clear that the truck driver fouled the crosssing, it was his fault, its a serious national problem, etc... and we lose 250 people every year in these accidents. But we have seen little PR effort. We have not seen any message that the train is 17x safer than the automobile (Northwestern University numbers).

WIth regard to PTC, it appears Anderson has decided Amtrak will suspend any trains not on PTC by end of the year. This may be the single stupidest thing I have ever heard. At this point, let's just all stay home and maybe even throw out our scissors, steak knives, and turn off the hot water. Maybe we should all wear clothing with elastic and Velcro so we don't hurt ourselves on buttons and zippers.

I had high hopes but this has been a big goose egg. I'm curious who was behind Delta's success because I love Delta.

Corporate culture is a tough, tough thing to change. It takes time. Note I'm not making excuses for the man, just making an observation.
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Re: Anderson Six Month Grade

Postby 161pw165 » Fri Feb 16, 2018 3:45 pm

Way too harsh, Tadman - IMHO.
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Re: Anderson Six Month Grade

Postby Matt Johnson » Fri Feb 16, 2018 4:11 pm

I'm willing to give him more than 6 months, but I agree that getting in front of the accident epidemic (statistical anomaly or not) is paramount. (I would say even if you discount the grade crossing accidents, there's indication of some safety crisis at Amtrak.) It's a difficult job made more difficult by politics, but I hope that his goal is to improve the system rather than slowly dismantle it as part of the GOP agenda. I don't know his personal politics or ideology, and I assume he took the job to serve in the way he believes is best. I just hope that doesn't happen to be the way the Republicans want (i.e. starve the national network out of existence).
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Re: Anderson Six Month Grade

Postby Noel Weaver » Fri Feb 16, 2018 4:21 pm

Here is some interesting stuff that appeared on the BLE website today.

https://www.ble-t.org/pr/news/headline.asp?id=48538

https://www.ble-t.org/pr/news/headline.asp?id=48541

I think the jury is still out on how Anderson is doing at this point. The biggest point is money or the lack thereof.

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Re: Anderson Six Month Grade

Postby Mackensen » Fri Feb 16, 2018 5:49 pm

This strikes me as premature; Anderson has been sole CEO since the beginning of the year. It's unclear how responsibilities were divided between him and Moorman. Most news coverage I've read concerning Anderson's appearance before Congress is favorable. Here are examples:

https://www.bizjournals.com/philadelphi ... ansit.html
http://www.philly.com/philly/business/t ... 80215.html
https://nypost.com/2018/02/16/amtrak-we ... -controls/

An important part of Anderson's job is to cooperate with Congress, especially in the face of a hostile executive. Seems to me he's handling that part just fine.
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Re: Anderson Six Month Grade

Postby dumpster.penguin » Sat Feb 17, 2018 8:34 am

At Delta, everything happens on procedure. Boarding, cabin announcements, food service. ... Little is left up to on-site judgment. After six months at Amtrak, the above functions still appear to be seat-of-pants.


Seat-of-pants at best, and sometimes Keystone Cops.

It looks easy but it is a sprawling problem. Nearly 20 years ago, George Warrington brought in consultants to do a coordinated plan for the Acela Express and Acela Regional. Overall, it didn't quite hit the spot, and most of it went to seed.
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Re: Anderson Six Month Grade

Postby Tadman » Sat Feb 17, 2018 1:26 pm

It's the single biggest problem at the railroad.

As a passenger, I have plenty of time when I feel unhappy or even unsafe due to lack of procedure.

If I were an agreement employee or a union leader, I would want procedure to protect my guys. It's harder to get disciplined for following procedure than it is for winging it.

If I were a manager, I would want procedure for predictability.

Literally everybody would win from having more procedure here. Unions, management, passengers, etc...

And BS like the coupling separation last week would be far less likely. Procedure is a good way to engineer out avoidable accidents.

The only losers here would be lawmakers, as they wouldn't have anything to bellyache about. They'd have to find a new scapegoat. I'm ok with that.
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Re: Anderson Six Month Grade

Postby Woody » Sat Feb 17, 2018 3:59 pm

Tadman wrote:WIth regard to PTC, it appears Anderson has decided Amtrak will suspend any trains not on PTC by the end of the year. This may be the single stupidest thing I have ever heard.

Maybe I'm too cynical, and I hate to veer toward conspiracy theories ... But I do wonder if threatening to pull Amtrak trains from routes without completed PTC gives freight railroads of ill will a great motivation to divert their PTC installers to other lines and away from the Amtrak routes. Just sayin'.
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Re: Anderson Six Month Grade

Postby ThirdRail7 » Sat Feb 17, 2018 4:05 pm

Tadman wrote:How do you think Richard H Anderson has done as leader of Amtrak for six months?

I think he downright sucks. F-minus.


I think his grade is a solid incomplete. How can we judge him accurately when he's only been in full command since January? Additionally, he does not have a railroad background so there is a steep learning curve.


Tadman wrote:At Delta, everything happens on procedure. Boarding, cabin announcements, food service. MAINTENANCE. Little is left up to on-site judgment. After six months at Amtrak, the above functions still appear to be seat-of-pants. Why is it the flight attendants read a script while the conductor or lounge car attendant babble away on the PA? There has been six months to remedy this and all it takes is a few rides to notice the problem, and a memo to all VP's directing them that within 90 days, all common tasks shall be performed according to written plan. And you know why this is so good for crews? Because if something goes wrong, now they're doing it just how management told them to. This protects both passengers and crew.


I'm not sure anyone has made a FOIA for the latest service standards manual, but the "babbling" on the PA is gleaned from the service standards manual. If you followed the announcement protocol (which I'm reasonably sure is on this board somewhere), it would probably take 20 minutes to spit out everything that is required, particularly on a long distance with sleepers. The deviation you hear is crew members attempting to paraphrase, cover the basics and emphasis the main points, often for that particular train before people start stabbing themselves in the ear drums.

Tadman wrote:
With regard to PR, it's awful. Amtrak has been in a number of high profile accidents, some their fault, some not. For God's sake, man, get out in front of this stuff and make it clear that the truck driver fouled the crosssing, it was his fault, its a serious national problem, etc... and we lose 250 people every year in these accidents. But we have seen little PR effort. We have not seen any message that the train is 17x safer than the automobile (Northwestern University numbers).


I agree to a certain extent. He didn't say enough about the truck collision, probably thinking trains hit cars and trucks all the time and it is barely newsworthy. After all, I was amazed that 3 was in grade crossing fatality just prior to the incident and no one said a peep, even though it took a 5 hour hit. Hell, 20 took a 5 hour hit after some juvenile allegedly PUSHED another juvenile in front of a NS train and the police commenced a homicide investigation. I waited and waited for it to appear in the news..or any of the boards.

Not a peep....just another day in paradise.

So his fault was not knowing his audience and passengers. Meanwhile, he came out swinging at CSX after 91 collided....even though the investigation wasn't anywhere finished.

So, on one occasion he sat on his hand and the other, he jumped the gun and will likely pay for it when something occurs on Amtrak territory. Again, this is part of the learning curve, which will take time. Even Wick Moorman didn't typically spend a large time in front of Congress or the press until he came to Amtrak.

Do you really think 2 months on your own is enough?

Tadman wrote:WIth regard to PTC, it appears Anderson has decided Amtrak will suspend any trains not on PTC by end of the year. This may be the single stupidest thing I have ever heard. At this point, let's just all stay home and maybe even throw out our scissors, steak knives, and turn off the hot water. Maybe we should all wear clothing with elastic and Velcro so we don't hurt ourselves on buttons and zippers.

I had high hopes but this has been a big goose egg. I'm curious who was behind Delta's success because I love Delta.


I'm not sure his message is being understood but let's take the worse case scenario and say he intends to stop running trains where PTC (for whatever reason) doesn't exist. From a business point of view, that would appear to be suicidal. The freights would love this, I'm sure. However, he was brought in to "run it like
a business." I've heard that term for years and asked what kind of business? Well, we finally have an answer: We're going to run it like an airline! :) Well, Amtrak is financially responsible for its mistakes....and the mistakes of others as well. I'm sure when he saw that, his eyebrows went up into what is left of his hairline! From a business perspective, the lives of your passengers, your crews, your reputation, your equipment (which is dying a slow death anyway) can be wiped out based upon the indifference of others hosts that are having trouble keeping up.

All he suggested is taking a hard look to see if there is a business case for it. is it worth it for maybe 10,000 passengers a year? Would that equipment be better used elsewhere? If the hosts do intend to stick Amtrak with the full costs of PTC and signal improvements, is it worth the costs from a business perspective? I'm not talking about making a business case for keeping a national network and all the trappings that come with it. He's talking about a pure dollars and cents point of view. While I personally believe I can find a dollars and cents point of view to get rid of every train in the country, some are given a pass (cough cough NEC cough cough). Remember, there hasn't been any sort of enthusiastic endorsement of the national network from him. He's made mention of corridor and state sponsored services but he hasn't really said much about the LD network. Does he REALLY believe in it? Not having PTC and having to pay for it may just be the edge that is needed.

This is why he was brought in. He doesn't have a railroad background, doesn't really care about the history of the Lake Shore, the name of the Cardinal or while the Palmetto is named the Palmetto. What is the business case, particularly since PRIIA says we are to attempt to cover our expenses.

Meanwhile, he's inherited an old fleet, which is in the process of being refreshed because there are no funds for replacement. He's started the first attempt at passenger seat selection in many years. Phase II should kick in soon. Mr. Anderson and Mr. Moorman cut through layers of management and are actively attempting to prioritize training and accountability. A major reorganization was just completed in January and positions are still being filled. He is attempting (at Wick's urging I'd bet) to push forward with capital repairs to the infrastructure. All of this while the cost cutting and priorities set by the previous administration is rearing its ugly head and catching up.

How can you build a road to your future when you're still attempting to put out the fire that is burning behind you...and getting closer?

Things don''t happen instantly and priorities need to be set. It is still a work in process. Besides, wait until later this year. You may have other things to complain about.
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Re: Anderson Six Month Grade

Postby Matt Johnson » Wed Feb 21, 2018 3:59 pm

Since he said that Amtrak was retiring the Pacific Parlour cars due to a need to focus on bilevel fleet renewal, how soon can we expect to see a fleet of new Superliner IIIs from the money saved by not running the Parlours?
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Re: Anderson Six Month Grade

Postby StLouSteve » Wed Feb 21, 2018 6:08 pm

Rode the Eagle last weekend. Total babble on the PA. Sometimes two people at same time, often just pa checks, sometimes single car announcements made to entire train, other times too low to hear—definitely an area to improve.

Also heard something about only one water spout working at new St Louis station, requiring Eagle to make multiple stops so hose to rewater can reach. Really?
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Re: Anderson Six Month Grade

Postby David Benton » Wed Feb 21, 2018 6:29 pm

I think the real disappointment was Wick Moorman.
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Re: Anderson Six Month Grade

Postby charlesriverbranch » Thu Mar 01, 2018 8:13 am

He's talking about cutting service, so F: F for feathers, as in tar and.
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Re: Anderson Six Month Grade

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Thu Mar 01, 2018 10:43 am

Tadman, I'm glad you were never a professor of mine; for I would not have been a drop-out who returned and graduated after four years of military service and ultimately became a CPA, but rather would have been a "flunk out" bouncing from one menial job to the next.

First and foremost, both Messrs. Moorman and Anderson came on to a property in which the safety culture was either deficient or non-existent. Adding insult to that injury was the former came from a road that had consistently won Harriman Awards (an industry award for exemplary safety) or from an industry that has not had a passenger fatality on US soil since '13 (a foreign flagged carrier; last US carrier was '09) and during '17 no fatality Worldwide (that's off the table this year - fatalities within both Iran and Russia). But with both gentlemen having arrived on the Amtrak property - and this one handles PEOPLE, and not coal and containers!!! "What in God's name did we get into", both must have thought. Passenger and employee safety can only be considered priority one, for with either an improvement or further deficiency can only be tied to the level of public funding received ("Congressman, I'm afraid to ride Amtrak". "Well constituent, we can take care of that easily enough when we Zero them out").

Even if the "Summer from hell" turned out only to be a "Summer of inconvenience" (and X-ing the Hudson aboard a ferry during the Summer can make for a nice diversion), the deferred maintenance exemplified by Penn Station was front page nationally. While I recognize that the "political football" of new "North River" tunnels is beyond Amtrak's immediate control, guess who will be blamed when one of 'em "springs a leak".

Now to close addressing the subject that has generated the most postings to this topic, but that I hold is subordinate to the matters of safety and maintenance - the on board passenger experience. First, let it be said "I don't fly all that much (eight flights during '17; '18? two "in the books", two more booked)" and I can't think of when was the last time I flew Delta - they don't hub in CHI, but I've likely had my one and only Amtrak ride for the year (Auto Train Voyage 24). Yes the beef dish served on AT was better than that vile hockey puck from '16, yes the public contact personnel were adequately courteous, and yes we were on time. Me and my auto got to "Bee (LOR)" on time and without incident. So the travel experience to me is really not "top of the pile" at this time.

So all told, I concur with Mr. Third Rail's thought on Mr. Anderson's report card - incomplete.
Last edited by Gilbert B Norman on Thu Mar 01, 2018 2:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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