WASHINGTON — Charles "Wick" Moorman will be Amtrak's next president.
In a release sent to employees mid-morning on Friday and announced publicly by Noon Eastern time, Amtrak officials say that Moorman will take over from President Joe Boardman on Sept. 1.
Positive comments about Moorman and his abilities flowed from railroad organizations and agencies within an hour of the announcement.
“This is a great choice. He’s an experienced railroader who knows how to work with the industry, employees and the host railroads," Sean Jeans-Gail, National Association of Railroad Passenger government affairs vice-president tells Trains News Wire. "We were looking for someone who would be a chief visionary, and he fills that role.”
Moorman is best known as the recently retired Norfolk Southern chairman, president, and CEO. He rose through the company's ranks during a 40-year-career capped by a massive publicity campaign involving an entire fleet of locomotives painted in heritage liveries. Moorman was also critical in restoring Norfolk & Western 4-8-4 No. 611 to operating condition in 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," says Association of American Railroads President Ed Hamberger. "His contributions and leadership in the freight rail industry, I believe, will advance the working partnership the freight railroads have with Amtrak."
Congratulations also came from Surface Transportation Board Vice Chair Deb Miller and Member Ann Begeman. Begeman called Moorman's selection "great news for the future of passenger rail service in this country."
Ed Ellis, founder of the Iowa Pacific private railcar and passenger empire, and operator of the Hoosier State passenger service (that Amtrak once served) says he too prefers Moorman as Amtrak president.
"I think Wick is an excellent choice. He was one of my top two picks," Ellis says. "He's somebody who understands railroads, understands passenger trains. He's an excellent people person, and I'm really excited about it."
More praise came in from Jim Souby, Colorado Rail Passenger Association president, who says Moorman can offer Amtrak more credibility with freight railroads.
After Moorman's own 2015 retirement from freight railroading, he became Norfolk Southern's most vocal defender as Canadian Pacific and it's, CEO E. Hunter Harrison, tried to takeover the railroad with unsolicited bids. Those bids were unsuccessful.
"With Wick onboard, Amtrak and its passengers, employees, and business partners will benefit from forward-looking, customer-focused, and innovative leadership. We value the excellent working relationship that we enjoy with Amtrak, and we look forward to the opportunities ahead for both freight and passenger railroads,” says James A. Squires, Norfolk Southern CEO.
Other Class I railroads Trains News Wire contacted declined to comment.
Moorman, 64, succeeds Boardman, who has served as Amtrak president for eight years.
UPDATE: New lead sentence. Comments from National Association of Railroad Passengers and the Association of American Railroads. Aug. 19, 2016 10:55 a.m. Central time. Comments from Surface Transportation Board members, Ed Ellis, Jim Souby, and James A. Squires. Aug. 19, 2016 3:45 p.m. Central time.